Vivid Machines, founded in Toronto in 2020, has developed the X-Vision system, designed to capture the quantity and quality of fruit crops from blossom to harvest, said CEO Jenny Lemieux.
The X-Vision system has three components: a high-speed multispectral camera with a vehicle-mounted housing system, a camera control and real-time analytics app, and a cloud-based analytics platform. Mounted on a tractor or ATV, the camera captures images as it moves through the row, and the data can be viewed in real time via mobile device, Lemieux said. The X-Vision system can get accurate crop counts moving at a speed of up to 7 miles per hour, she said.
Jonathan Binas, Vivid’s chief technology officer, said growers can mount the technology on existing equipment and scan their trees while spraying, cutting grass or performing other tasks. They can use the data to estimate fruit count and size on every tree in the orchard, he said.
The X-Vision system can help growers with every step of crop load management, from blossom thinning to harvest estimation. The technology’s fruit count predictions, with greater than 90 percent accuracy, will help growers know how many bins, how many trucks and how much packaging to order, which will help their bottom lines. If a grower increases the volume of marketable fruit by four bins per acre, for example, it could boost grower profits by $800 per acre, Lemieux said.
Vivid’s first paid trials will start this season, with six growers in Ontario and New York, she said.
Vivid personnel spent time perfecting their equipment in the orchards of Ontario grower Kirk Kemp. Kemp said the technology’s accurate counts of blossoms and fruitlets help him better determine the amount of chemical and hand thinning required.
“The sooner we can get the crop load to levels the tree can handle, the better fruit size we get and the better return bloom we get for the next year,” Kemp said.
The X-Vision system can also count buds when the tree is still dormant. That helps with winter pruning — getting the crop load closer to what the grower wants before the tree starts putting energy into it, Kemp said.
“Maximizing crop load and fruit size, while maintaining optimum tree health, will assist in consistent crop loads from year to year, and ultimately improve profitability,” Kemp said.
Eventually, the company plans to monitor tree health and pests as well, but specifics on these approaches were not yet available.
Ontario orchard manager Gerbe Botden has also worked with Vivid Machines. He said gathering data points about crop volume, crop quality, tree health and pattern recognition on a tree-by-tree level, and integrating those data points into real-world precision agriculture systems, has limitless potential.
—by Matt Milkovich