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growers-feeling-blue-blueberries

For many, 2021 has presented more obstacles to navigate as a farmer. Extreme weather in many parts of the country has taken a toll on crop production, some growers losing fruit that was close to harvest. COVID-19 vaccines are not yet widely available to reach all farmworkers which means growers must plan for another harvest of masks and social distancing. For many US blueberry growers, news that the International Trade Commission voted that no injury has occurred to the domestic blueberry market from imports was unwelcomed. And the “cherry on top” may be Washington State’s looming decision whether agricultural workers are entitled to overtime pay for working more than 40 hours a week.

Now that the bad news is out of the way, here are some 2nd Sight solutions to address these challenges.

Crop Insurance
Using electronic farm labor tracking systems provide accurate yield data per field location. Having searchable, digital records with a few button clicks makes it easy to show just how much crop you lose when bad weather hits your farm. Generating totals by year and specific blocks can help prove your case when you file a claim.

Socially Distanced Harvest
Ditch the punch cards that must be passed back and forth between field boss, picker, and office staff during harvest time. Employees can scan their RFID badges to log pieces or weight with little person-to-person contact with electronic punch card systems.

Decrease Labor Costs
Labor is more expensive in the US compared to many other blueberry producing countries in the world. Boost your bottom line by investing in ways to decrease your labor costs. Start by capturing accurate hours, counts, and weights in the field to minimize overpayments. Continue saving labor in the office with minimal manual data entry and reports that simplify and streamline the payroll process. Although there may be an upfront cost to upgrade and adapt your process, think about it as an investment and analyze the ROI. If you can pay for a system in one to two seasons with the savings, it may be time to adopt new tech.

Recordkeeping
Could you produce accurate records of employee timesheets and hours? How long would it take for you to get these numbers together? Could you identify which workers would be owed back-pay for overtime for the last three years? This is the nightmare that many growers may be facing in Washington State. It is becoming more important to have and maintain records of farm labor. Many know that California is often the first state to adopt more stringent labor laws. For those who do not have to track pieceworker time to pay rest breaks at average piecework rates, you may not be far behind this headache. Start better recordkeeping now to ensure you have all the data you need to meet the labor laws and pay your employees correctly.

Still feeling the blues?
Remember, even Plato realized that, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” The creativity in the specialty crop industry combined with new technology will enable growers to overcome these obstacles. Face 2021 with an attitude of progress and resiliency, and let us know when we can help.

 


 


2nd Sight Video Blog

The pandemic has emphasized the need for most, if not all businesses to have a strong online presence. Would I be able to find your farm, orchard, nursery, or greenhouse online? Do you have a website? Facebook page? Twitter account? With so many online channels from which to choose, it can be overwhelming to keep up. However, a blog post from Jain Irrigation, a video posted by one of our nursery customers, Foothills Nurseries, and a virtual tour of J Frank Schmidt & Son Co. all reminded me that video is an important tool to help tell a story.

Even if your farm has a one-page website and Facebook page (both of which are now quite easy to create and manage), you can upload and post pictures and videos. I look around to see what our customers and other ag tech suppliers are doing to tell their stories. Consumers not only want to know what you do, but who you are, and why you are doing it.

The Jain Irrigation blog post, “A 5 Point Checklist to Shoot Better Video” is an easy read that can get you going in the right direction if you are looking to grow your online video content. Start capturing who you are, what you are doing, and why you continue to choose the honorable profession of feeding the country, and for some, the world. Through video, you can explain and show how your nursery plays an important role in making neighborhoods, parks, and cities beautiful and green. Invest some time and money into this type of marketing because online is the new marketplace. Consumers and buyers start with the internet so you must create a good first impression for your future customers with your content.

Through the pandemic, we have found a couple of additional helpful tools to generate more video. Wideo is an online software platform that provides video templates. Is is as simple as selecting a template and plugging in your colors, pictures, and text. Wideo offers free and paid plans that help you produce professional-quality video quickly at a great price. Here are sample Wideo’s we created that explain our Pay by Weight, Pay by Piece, and Pay by Time electronic labor tracking solutions.

Many of you have joined at least one Zoom call over the last week, or maybe at least one call already today. Recording Zoom sessions is another easy way to capture product demos, speakers, interviews, and screen sharing. It is easy to convert the recording, save, and upload the video to your preferred platforms.

And finally, another great tool we discovered at 2nd Sight is Adobe Premiere Rush. For more experienced video editors, Adobe Premiere offers feature-rich software for video creation and editing. For the less experienced, or those who are simply in a time crunch, Adobe Premiere Rush is a perfect program that simplifies the video creation and editing process.

When I come across a really good product or company video, I remember it. When a farm has a nice website that not only says what they are doing, but why they are farming, I remember it (Bow Hill Blueberries and Major League Blueberries are a couple of blueberry farms and our customers that have done a great job at this). Marketing is all about top-of-mind awareness. Today, we all have the tool right in our pockets to start capturing pictures and video. It’s time to unlock the potential for your business.

 


 


Over six years ago, the concept of a pay by weight, in-field harvest scale sparked the foundation of 2nd Sight. Six years later, our flagship product, the "FairPick Pro" is a simple, reliable system that offers growers the benefits of fair and accurate pay. Along the way, we developed additional labor tracking systems that would satisfy the needs of our current and future customers to have one complete labor tracking solution.

The 2nd Sight engineering team began development of the second generation FairPick model only a year after the commercial release of our original FairPick system. We decided to call the original model the “FairPick Pro” because it was a pro at being a rugged, user-friendly harvest scale. The name made sense.... at the time.

The inspiration behind the new FairPick model was to develop a tabletop scale system. Instead of an integrated computer, it would utilize a handheld computer that could be removed and run other 2nd Sight labor tracking apps outside of the often-short harvest window. For growers, the cost of the system could then be spread over several months of use instead of just a couple. The name “FairPick Lite” stuck because of its portability, not thinking it would be attached to the mobile, metal frame like the “Pro” as well as the portability of the handheld that could be removed from the box.

The “brain” of the FairPick Lite system is in the rugged handheld computer that runs the app. Because of this, our engineers can more easily modify and add features to the software which has transformed the FairPick Lite into a feature-rich app. Before implementation, we work with a grower to determine whether a “Pro” or “Lite” system would be a better fit for the farm. During these conversations, I often find myself explaining that there is always a tradeoff between simplicity and flexibility. If you want something that is extremely user-friendly, you will have to sacrifice some features and data flexibility. However, if you are not afraid of working a smart phone out in the field, you can have more options to customize the software to your process.

We have also always referred to the electronics box of the FairPick Lite system as the “FlexHub”. This was a name that reflected another new gadget on the market at the time of development, the Nintendo "Switch". This console was designed to offer both stationary and portable options for gamers as well as standard hardware to make game development easier for programmers. Sound familiar?

Although the “Pro” is an excellent solution for a farm that seeks simplicity, the “Lite” is a better fit for a farm that wants to maximize the hardware and software possibilities. The names have become counterintuitive and do not best represent each system's strengths. Sometimes, you must admit that a product has outgrown its moniker. Moving forward, the “FairPick Pro” will be referred to as the “FairPick", going back to its roots as the machine that fully-embraces reliability and simplicity. And, to make a long story short, the word flex keeps coming up when we talk about the “FairPick Lite”. So, we would like to introduce to you the same great system rebranded as the "FairPick Flex"!

For most of us, 2020 has been a year of change and adaption, so what better time to embrace a little rebranding!

 


 


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