One Labor Tracking System to Fit Them All

The article, “You’re not in Kansas anymore” in the Capital Press highlights the importance of crop diversification in the Northwest farm economy. Even though I’m a born and raised Washingtonian, I did not realize how many different crops the state produces until I started working for 2nd Sight almost five years ago. The following infographic does a great job comparing the Northwest to the Midwest in terms of types of crops. Growing specialty crops can be a challenge but can also lead to higher profits. Growing more than one type of crop can be a great way to diffuse risk in more uncertain economic times. Let’s hope the tariff situation cools down between the US and China…

This diversification of specialty crops is one reason why our labor tracking products developed the way that they did. For example, the FairPick scale’s mobile frame worked great when we tested it during cherry harvest, but when we moved to blueberries, the large flats would get caught on the joints supporting the scale platform. In Eastern Washington, many larger farms grow both blueberries and cherries. We had to build a “one frame fits all” model. So, we changed the joints so that they attached to the bottom of the weighing platform to accommodate picking lugs, flats, containers, bags, boxes, and any other container that might be used for harvesting fruits and vegetables.

The FairTrak was developed to accommodate farms that pay by the piece for some tasks and pay by time for other activities. Paying by weight makes sense for cherries but paying by weight for apples does not. The FairPick Lite was another step forward in meeting the needs of Northwest growers. Growers can utilize the scale during cherry or berry harvest, then remove the handheld from the scale system for scanning barcodes on bins for apple harvest. It is easier to justify an expense when one system can be used for four months versus four weeks.