This customer story focuses on Wonderful Orchards, the world’s largest grower of almonds, pistachios, and pomegranates. Wonderful Orchards is part of The Wonderful Company, a $4 billion worldwide company that includes FIJI Water, Wonderful Halos mandarins, JUSTIN Wine, and Teleflora. Wonderful Bees, a national beekeeping operation, also falls under the Wonderful Orchards umbrella.
Maintaining 85,000 acres of almonds, pistachios, and pomegranates in California’s San Joaquin Valley.
With 85,000 geographically dispersed planted acres, the folks at Wonderful Orchards spent a lot of time and effort getting information from their ranches back to their offices.
“We had people driving really long distances to turn paperwork into an office because our ranches are so spread out,” said Ranch Support Analyst Sophie Frohmader. “We were doing things like taking pictures of pieces of paper when we couldn’t get that paperwork in somebody’s hands.”
Not only did this create a delay in communication, but the growers were using a staggering amount of resources and manpower to share valuable, time-sensitive information between their ranches.
“Our food safety team was collecting a large quantity of paperwork during the months of harvest,” Sophie said. “And then they were trying to file that away and scan those papers in to keep a record of them.”
There had to be a better way to collect and share data from the field. Wonderful Orchards was about to discover it.
“The growers decided to leave pen and paper behind and move to an electronic data collection platform. They built some in-house apps that worked really well but as their processes evolved, they found it time consuming to make changes to those custom apps.
“We were inspecting some devices in the field and each farming division was collecting the data a little differently,” Sophie said. “When it came time to consolidate all of the information, it was a mess of paper and some Excel sheets.”
They needed something flexible that they could deploy and make changes to quickly — and it had to work offline, since there often isn’t a great signal under the tree canopies.
When they first started using Fulcrum, they were exporting CSV files, which was a bit of a hassle with the amount of data they were collecting. “But once our IT team started connecting through the API, it made things so much easier,” Sophie said. “That’s when our use of Fulcrum really exploded.”
Wonderful Orchards uses Fulcrum in a myriad of ways. Sophie explained just a few:
Irrigation: The team collects moisture readings out in the field, and Fulcrum allows them to get that data in near-real time. “That gives our irrigation schedulers access to that information right away so they can adjust the schedule based on the information collected in the field,” she said.
Daily harvest inspection: They also use Fulcrum to make sure an area is ready to be harvested, that there are no hazards or residues, and to check in quickly with their crew to make sure no one is feeling ill.
Mummy removal counts: In order to reduce pests, the company tries to eliminate as many mummy nuts (nuts that remain on the trees after harvest) as possible. They use Fulcrum to count how many mummies are left in the trees and determine whether they should hire another crew to remove them.
Water meter inspection and maintenance: During the irrigation off-season, the team uses Fulcrum to make sure the meters are working correctly and do repairs and replacements.
Food safety compliance: During harvest, Wonderful Orchards has several hundred portable toilets on their ranches, and they are constantly being moved around. They use Fulcrum to tag the location of each toilet and ensure they are being inspected and that they are clean and operational.
Bee hive inspections: In the Wonderful Bees offices, crews can look at a monitor that shows all the logged activity, including what yards have been visited and the health of the hives, 24 hours a day. That way, any issues can be addressed right away.
Fulcrum has allowed the Ranch Support department to provide support to many different parts of the company, but the benefit that stands out the most to Sophie is the timing aspect: “If we need information collected quickly, we can do that with Fulcrum,” she said.
“We love the data events feature,” she continued. “If during a bee hive inspection they find mites, we’re able to create notifications that we need to treat.”
They also appreciate the ability to standardize data collection across divisions, and the noticeable reduction in data-entry errors. And with Fulcrum, they can easily show management the status of operations on a map.
“I think one of the big things you can’t really measure is buy-in from employees in the field,” Sophie added. “People that didn’t want to go away from pen and paper and the old way of doing things now come to us and have ideas for apps.”
“They really embraced this as a tool to help them, so that’s kind of priceless.”
Fulcrum has changed the way Wonderful Orchards collects and shares data from the field, saving the company valuable time and resources that they can now dedicate to producing healthy crops.