Advancing technology within the processing side of the industry is helping to improve grower efficiency. Vice President of Operations for Custom Almonds and Sequoia Nut Company, Bikram Hundal said they have been steadily adopting robotic technology and artificial intelligence within the sorting process. The data that is collected can then be translated back to individual growers to optimize their production practices. Hundal noted that optical sorters have been one of the major technological upgrades that is demonstrating significant value.
“They capture real-time pictures of the almonds. We can record how much defects are going through the sorters and from there, we can quantify that data and relay back to which field it came from and how much is coming out,” said Hundal. “Each and every single almond we can see as good or bad. That’s the beauty of the technology right now. It’s not just based on some random sampling, it’s 100 percent.”
The real-time data collected on every almond helps identify where there may be some issues in particular orchards. Information about defects can be traced back to the individual grower who can take a closer look at their practices. The data can be helpful when comparing practices from year to year.
“So, this year you only got like half a percent of serious defects, and last year you had like four percent of serious defects. You definitely did something right this year. What changes did you do?” Hundal explained. “Or, let’s say this year he got like four percent of serious defects and we can kind of tell him, ‘Hey, so this year, insect damage is really high, so maybe you skipped some sprays or maybe something happened.’”
Overall grower efficiency can be improved through the more in-depth information collected in the sorting process. Hundal said the benefits of the advanced sorting process also allow them to incentivize growers to make those improvements. “We are willing to pay an extra cent or extra dollar for your product because it makes our processing faster, easier, and smoother. So, we do not incur any production losses while we are processing it,” Hundal noted.
You can find the latest episodes, including the one with Bikram Hundal, by searching “Almond Journey” wherever you get your podcasts and online at Almonds.com.
Listen to the segment below.
Ag News Director / AgNet West