The English Apple Man logo

The English Apple Man


7th Jan 2022 - Science and Technology dominates our lives, and the Fruit Industry is no different

As we pray COVID-19 can be brought under control, the science and technology behind vaccines have given us hope of returning to some form of normality.


In the fruit industry science and technology are more important than ever! We have always battled diseases and pest control, but now as changes in society land on us at an exponential rate, we rely on science and technology allied to a better understanding of the challenges we face!


A recent planned demonstration on the use of drones in early December became a ZOOM event due to concerns about Omicron.


Agri-EPI Centre is accelerating the adoption of precision agriculture and engineering technologies to boost productivity across the whole agri-food chain. It does this by exploring how to optimise performance of the highly complex agricultural production and processing systems.


Drone Technology and Artificial Intelligence: Utilisation for High value Crops/Top Fruit Growers


In this online event, we heard about drone application and the use of artificial intelligence in supporting high-value crops and top fruit growers.


With a focus on the use of remote sensing methods platforms, such as UAVs (drones), which have opened up a wide selection of sensing options for use in agriculture. What are these options, what do they tell us about our farms and how can we use them to make good decisions? An expert panel of speakers included:

This event was organised by Connected Places Catapult as part of their Drone Pathfinder Catalyst Programme


The Drone Pathfinder Catalyst Programme is a UK government-funded programme to increase the adoption of drone technology in the UK. The aim of the programme is to rapidly drive progress in drone technology and regulation enabling industry and the public sector to fully exploit the drone market.


The programme is led by Connected Places Catapult sponsored by the Department for Transport (DfT), and in collaboration with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Agriculture has been identified as one of the key industry sectors in which increased adoption in drone technology can drive benefits including improving land management, increasing farming efficiencies and improving the wider bio-economy.


Industry expert speakers included:




- Sarah Calcutt, Fruit Industry Expert

- Karthik Ramalingam, Connected Places Catapult

- Elliott Dixon, Agri-EPI Centre

- Oli Hilbourne, Outfield Technologies


This event was carried a great deal of data and The EAM includes only the video by Karthik Ramalingam, Connected Places Catapult which demonstrates the breadth of drone assisted technology. (2 minutes 27 seconds long)




Sarah Calcutt reviewed the current dilemma facing apple growers in face of rising costs, labour shortages, inadequate financial returns.


Sarah reminded the attendees Quote by: Albert Einstein! "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results "



So, we have to stop and do something different


- We are now in a new farming revolution

- Consolidation of the sector

- Labour challenges = staff efficiencies

- Costs, we can no longer produce Class 2 fruit

- Productivity heat maps

- A range of AI and tech..


Knowledge is power


We have so many changes in society coming towards us: Climate change, Government environmental policies, healthy eating, sustainable production, a lot of consolidation of the industry as financial pressures bear down on us, labour issues are not going to go away, we need to 'work smarter' utilise available labour efficiency better by using technology and data gathering to maximise the potential of our orchards and the workforce.


Sarah highlighted British Apples & Pears market research which identified the premium apple size (by demand) as 63mm - 68mm a narrow band which delivers the best financial return. She said the price (return to grower) differential between 55mm - 60mm and 65mm - 70mm was 21%


The English Apple Man Comments


This event delivered an overview of the areas of science and technology now available to the top fruit (and other farming) industries and assisted by government funding.


Far to much detail for The EAM to cover in one Journal, but hopefully giving an insight into the ongoing development of scientific and technological assistance capable of making a huge difference to the survival of our top fruit industry.


For a wider understanding; Click on AGRI-EPI Centre


That is all for this week


Take care


The English Apple Man