Developing a grower-centric online software prototype to enable vegetable producers to collect accurate and timely crop harvest information
Department of Agriculture
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Small Business Information
3003 VAN NESS ST NW #523, Washington, DC, 20008-4701
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractConsumers are now demanding more information about farm production processes and their resulting harvests. Harvest records, although difficult for farmers to capture, can contain rich product data such as grading information and macro and micronutrient content, allowing farmers to differentiate themselves from competitors and market their produce effectively, as in organic farming. Harvest records also play a key role in food safety and traceability as they are often at the top of a chain of records describing the inputs in multi-step food production processes that combine the products of many harvests into a single food product. By linking harvest information to crop production plans, one can obtain more in-depth information about the quality and safety of harvested produce, which in turn could improve food safety and traceability initiatives. Our solution to the problem of harvest record capture for vegetable growers is an online software module that enables growers to capture information about their harvests including a variety of information such as quantity, quality, and time to availability. This software solution will be integrated into AgSquared, our online software for farm production planning and management. AgSquared is designed to use a farm's crop production season plans as the basis for operations management and record keeping during the course of the growing season. This integrated approach vastly simplifies the process of keeping comprehensive, organized and meaningful farming records, and we anticipate that this benefit can be extended to the capture of information about harvests as well. AgSquare's software is available on a subscription basis and is already being used by a diverse group of U.S. farmers several thousand strong. The objective of this study is to identify the optimal approach for enabling farmers to collect, organize, and utilize detailed information about their vegetable crop harvests to enhance their marketing efforts. Our research will shed light on the specific harvest quantity and quality metrics that are of greatest business value to both growers and produce buyers. It will yield a prototype software module optimized to enable vegetable crop producers to effectively capture those metrics as part of their farm management processes. Our approach involves first researching the harvest attributes that are of greatest value to buyers and producers. Next, working with growers in a structured brainstorming process, we will develop prototype software interfaces that enable the capture of harvest information within the context of the existing farming workflow. Finally, we will integrate the resultant prototype software interfaces into AgSquared and test the new software for its efficacy in improving harvest information capture. The impact of this study will be the creation of a farmer-friendly harvest data collection system that seamlessly integrates valuable information from seed purchase, through farm operations, and harvest, all accessible through an online database. This will enhance the livelihood of U.S. specialty crop producers by expanding marketing opportunities and simplifying produce traceability.
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