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Thanks to the International Society of Precision Agriculture (ISPA), farmers and ag equipment and service provides now have a way to define Precision Agriculture:

“Precision Agriculture is a management strategy that gathers, processes, and analyzes temporal, spatial, and individual data and combines it with other information to support management decisions according to estimated variability for improved resource use efficiency, productivity, quality, profitability, and sustainability of agricultural production.”

This definition incorporates a lot, so let’s break it down by some of the key words and explain why capturing labor data electronically falls within the scope of Precision Ag.

“Temporal, spatial, and individual data”

This definition emphasizes the importance of knowing what, when, and where activities and processes are happening on the farm. Time stamps are a key data point that can provide useful information about trends over time. Information like how long it takes employees to perform specific tasks and how long it takes for pickers to hand-harvest a specific field of fruit can help a grower predict the labor needs for future seasons. The where is critical. Without data about where things are happening, you’re unable to evaluate the specific inputs, expenses, and profitability of different fields or blocks. Yield mapping relies on specific data points that are tagged with time and place. Every badge scan, weigh, piece log, or barcode scan with a 2nd Sight device is stamped with a date and time—the when. With the flexibility of lists, growers can input their fields, blocks, or even row numbers to pinpoint location. Behind the scenes, GPS coordinates are captured and ready for custom yield mapping.

Precision farming is about improvement.

Efficiency

Efficiency means minimizing waste of time, money, or resources and requiring minimum effort to perform a task. Becoming more efficient means doing more with less. In today’s ag environment, labor is a topic that is discussed frequently. Why? Because good labor can be hard to find and difficult to keep.
Implementing technology that allows one person to do two jobs is a huge labor savings. Do you still have a crew of checkers or office staff staying late after harvest to count and transcribe punch cards into a spreadsheet program? What if you could have only one person spending only 15 minutes at a computer reviewing harvest data at the end of the day? That’s using your labor resources more efficiently.

Productivity

It’s challenging to monitor and improve employee productivity if you don’t know how productive your crew is right now. This relates back to the necessity of having accurate “temporal” data to analyze. Collecting employee data and having the ability to monitor employee performance in hourly and piecework jobs is a powerful tool that can guide your decisions as a manager.

One of the stories we like to tell here is from the first year of testing the FairPick Pro in a cherry orchard in Mattawa. After a full day of picking Rainiers, data uploads from the scale via Wi-Fi to the online Customer Portal. Running the Daily Report quickly revealed the employees that did not make minimum wage with their piecework. The two employees under minimum wage were identified as new pickers. The ability to quickly see and analyze the data made it clear to the grower that these pickers needed to learn how to pick from a more senior employee. Over the next two days, productivity of these two employees increased dramatically.

The QuickPick was a result of needing to eliminate a bottleneck in the process of picking and logging tomatoes in California. The checker punching tickets was the bottleneck and often caused a line to form at the truck where the produce is dumped. Every second in line means a second that is spent picking. Implementing a system that increased productivity was an easy way for the contractors to maximize picker productivity. The QuickPick also increased efficiency since the machine removed the puncher job from each crew. They could manage harvest with one fewer body out in the field.

Quality

Unexpected feedback from a customer growing cherries in the Tri-Cities area of Washington was that the cherry bins were cleaner than they had ever been. Why did quality improve? Pickers knew that if they are paid by precise weight, branches and leaves weren’t very heavy and were just taking up space in their lugs. This space could be filled with fruit that would earn them more money.

Profitability

At 2nd Sight, our vision is to make farming more profitable and fun again. Profitability should be the end goal. To reach that goal, you need to implement everything that is outlined in the definition of Precision Ag including: temporal, spatial, and individual data, improved efficiency, and improved productivity. A profitable farm or orchard means a farm that is more resilient to the challenges that the future brings like rising input costs, uncertain markets, and increased competition. Gather, process, analyze, and make managerial decisions based on the wealth of information you can capture digitally. 2nd Sight offers a suite of hardware and software solutions that can get your business moving in the right direction.


There’s a great article on GrowingProduce.com called, “Ways to Keep Your Farm Data Safe.” It is worth a read for any farmer jumping on-board with AgTech. I’ll explain some ways that 2nd Sight ensures that your harvest labor data stays secure too.

The first and most simple way to keep your data secure is to keep your facility locked. This also applies to keeping your 2nd Sight products locked up or in a secure location while being stored or during charging. It is important to know that nobody can add additional badge scans while you’re not looking, or, tamper with the FairPick scale. The article made a great point: “Before you begin to think about digital security, it’s a good idea to make sure your physical facility is secure.” If you are concerned about employees adding extra badge scans during lunch, you can attach a physical lock to the FlexHub or FairPick Pro box to make sure that an employee cannot open the lid, power on the device, and start using it without supervision to cheat.

“Levels of security” is another way to prevent others, including employees, from editing or manipulating your farm payroll data. Not all your employees need to access the same amount of information. We addressed this concern by allowing a customer to create as many Customer Portal user accounts as necessary. A user can be assigned a different role which grants access to more or less of the Portal functions and features. If the user can add, change, or edit data, the “Event History” will always show the username of the person who made the changes. As stated in the article, it is important to “set up custom passwords and permissions about what they can see and what they can do with that software.” As a 2nd Sight customer, you can follow this advice.

If you use a system with the RHC (Ruggedized Handheld Computer) you can also add an additional layer of security by setting a password to unlock the device—just like you would on your personal cell phone. If you want to take it a step further, these handhelds have a feature called AppLock. Applock allows an administrator to “lock down” certain functions on the phone to prevent misuse. Even the field boss couldn’t start watching Youtube videos out in the field burning up your data or bogging down your Wi-Fi. With AppLock, you define which apps can open and run. Accessing the administrator section requires a password that you’ve set. This often makes operating the device simpler by automatically opening the 2nd Sight app whether it’s FairTrak, QuickPick, or FairPick Lite.

“Watch your system” is another recommendation in the article. We designed our standard Daily Report to make it easy to review uploaded employee data on a daily basis. Taking 15-20 minutes each afternoon or evening to skim this report will make it easy to identify outliers. Quickly see who may be cheating or manipulating data to boost their times or piece counts. Catching these situations early can save you a lot of time and money.

Another point in the article is to “Ask before you buy.” We would be happy to answer any additional questions you have about the security of your 2nd Sight data. Learn why your Customer Portal account is secure.

Finally, the article hits it home, “We shouldn’t let security be the fear factor that halts adoption, but it should be a part of the conversation about how we secure these smart devices so that they won’t cause a failure.” Think about how your data may be vulnerable and find a solution before it’s too late. Taking 10 seconds to login with your unique ID and password is worth it to keep your data safe, secure, and accurate.


Congratulations on your purchase! The InstaCaliper is a powerful tree inventory tool, providing continuing benefits year after year. The InstaCaliper is more than a measuring device. It provides information to value your trees, enables you to create strategic work orders to pick trees from the field, and offers push button tree grading capabilities.

To prepare for the season, fully charge the handheld computer. Leave the device charging and connected to Wi-Fi. Leave the device “on” and “awake” to download app updates. The updates will include new InstaCaliper software releases and various Google app releases. The update process can take an hour or more; depending on your internet connection speed and how many apps require updates.

Use the Customer Portal to add or update task and list information. An example would be adding new tree varieties or locations. Sync the InstaCaliper app on the handheld computer to load the new information.

Many inventory software programs allow data imports. Contact us early for custom downloads that will “play nice” with your existing nursery inventory system to save even more time. There can be a line during tree inventory season, so get your request in now so that you aren’t waiting to get your report when you need it this summer and fall!

Things to know:

  • What’s new in 2019? Nothing! If we don’t have the feature you want, you probably don’t need it. But if you want it, we can make it. Software is billed hourly. Contact us for a quote.
  • Find our free help site at http://help.2ndsightbio.com. Phone support is billed hourly, with minimum of 15-minute increments. Standard support hours are 9am to 5pm PDT.
  • We rely on our customers and word of mouth to sell more units. When you send someone our way… have them mention your name. You will both be rewarded.
  • The annual fee pays for basic support, updates, data storage, and enables you to add and remove information. If you want to grow a great apple tree, expect to pay continuous costs for fertilizers and sprays.
  • We have limited stock. We sell out every year. We are unable to rent or offer free testing.
  • You will need to have basic computer skills or find someone who does. We will teach you how to surf the digital wave; but we ask you to please know how to find the beach.

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