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An interview with: Logiclabs Crop Counter

We caught up with Tayah Ryan from Logiclabs to find out more about how their Crop Counter software has provided a specific solution for their customers in the horticulture industry.

Logiclabs Crop Counter is designed for kiwifruit growers who conduct winter bud, flower and fruit counts during the season. The Crop Counter software allows data collection in the field and intuitive real-time display of orchard information.

Lincoln Hub (LH): Where did the idea for Logiclabs come from?

LoglicLabs (LL): If we are perfectly honest, Logiclabs Crop Counter was our customers idea! My husband (managing director of Logiclabs) works for a leading kiwifruit packhouse in the Bay of Plenty. His work knew he was developing software specifically for the horticultural industry and they came to him with a problem… yield estimation. They wanted software that could help them to better predict their yield across their orchard portfolio, therefore helping with optimising quality, yield and assisting with logistical planning.

At the time we had just been accepted into the Agritech Accelerator program “Sprout”. Our mentor encouraged us to drop our original idea and run with what our customers were asking for now. So that’s what we did. After a bit more market research, and discovering there was a real appetite for this product in the wider market, we set about designing and developing an easy to use tool for the kiwifruit industry.

LH: What is your background?

LL: Logiclabs is headed by Matthew Ryan as Managing Director. He currently works as an orchard manager for some of the Bay’s top orchards, looking after 110ha of Green and Gold kiwifruit. Matt has worked in the industry for the last 6 years, and prior to that completed an Honours degree at Massey University. He has a keen interest in technology, particuarly process automation and practical solutions that help with everyday decision making.

Tayah Ryan is the other half of Logiclabs. Her day job is with a leading horticultural merchant as Senior Technical Advisor, responsible for field research and staff/grower extension. Tayah also completed an Honours degree at Massey University. Her passion lies in simplifying complicated issues for primary producers, and plays a key role in ensuring the processes within the product are thorough and technically correct.

LH Was it difficult to get uptake for your idea or was the market reasonably open to your product?

LL: As mentioned previously, we developed a custom solution for our clients, so that it made it relatively easy! Our strategy was to develop a minimum viable product that quickly got our app into the hands of our customers. We found that for some of our clients, this simple solution was all they needed and were happy to commit. Other larger customers were interested, but needed more complexity and some customisation to get them across the line.

We have yet to release the product to growers (we primarily deal with large post-harvest facilities at the moment), so we will be interested to delve into this market segment for the coming counting season starting June 2017.

LH: Who does your market consist of primarily?

LL: Our market at the moment focuses within the kiwifruit industry, although we have plans to expand into other horticultural crops in the near future. Within the kiwifruit industry, we have two levels of customers – growers, and post-harvest entities. Post-harvest companies collect a massive amount of data over the season, and then want the ability to perform analysis on that data to form predictions and see trends. Growers on the other hand require a more operational tool which helps them with their day to day decisions. Both customers see a real need for an easy to use but sophisticated solution for getting this information.

LH: How do you think Logiclabs can solve some of the challenges that growers face today?

LL: Growers are becoming increasingly interested in the application of technology on their orchards. But they want beautiful software that’s nice to use and saves them time – rather than adding it! That’s where Crop Counter fits in. On the face of it, Crop Counter is a very simple app that immediately saves double entry of data. Once the data is collected, our product performs a series of sophisticated calculations and displays some key metrics for them on the web portal. As an example, flowers per m2 is a common metric which gives growers an indication of whether they are holding the optimal number of flowers to achieve the best fruit size and quality at harvest. With increasingly difficult export standards to meet, management decisions through the season have a huge impact on a growers bottom line.

LH: Do you think the development and adoption of products and services like Logiclabs signal a changing approach to the agriculture industry?

LL: I think in general the horticultural industry has been slower to develop and adopt technology solutions when we compare ourselves to the agricultural industry. But in the last 5-10 years there has been a definite change in the ownership structure of orchards – things are moving toward a corporate format, and with it seems to bring managers that are more often educated, and future thinkers. These are the customers we are seeing more and more of, and they want solutions like ours to help them run their operation more efficiently. They want more information, more analysis and on-site access to all this to enable quick but educated decision making.

LH: Do you think technologies like LogicLabs can help to increase the sustainability of agriculture?

LL: The primary industries are demanding increasing levels of sophistication to meet the pressures of producing in todays world. We are expected to produce more from less, while still maintaining a quality product that consumers want to pay for. Technology not only creates efficiencies in the day to day operation of farms and orchards, but it also enables high level analysis of readily available data. Logiclabs believes this is where the value is truly added. Having hoards of data is one thing – what you do with it is another. By paying close attention to what information drives positive change by the grower, the technology sector can better target what metrics they display on their user interface. This stands true for any facet of growing – from environmental considerations to compliance to productivity targets.

LH: Where do you hope to see LogicLabs in the future?

LL: Logiclabs is working towards an automated counting product. That is, technology that is capable of counting kiwifruit without the manual labour cost the industry currently relies on. We have had some exciting developments in this field, but still have a bit of work to do to validate the technology.