From appraising the quality of freshly picked apples by hand to capturing a snapshot of the crop in second, a new AI tool is changing the horticulture industry.
The new tool comes from Hectre, a New Zealand startup delivering orchard technologies to the fruit industry.
Research and development manager Luke Butters explained their new tool, Spectre, uses computer vision AI run on AWS to deliver fruit size and colour data within seconds from a mobile device.
He said regardless of the hours put in, manual assessments didn't produce particularly accurate results.
"Everyone was doing everything on paper.
"They are good at growing things. We are good at developing software.
"We wanted to create a really simple to use orchard management tool."
The smart technology captures a snapshot of crop data from the top layer of the fruit bin, providing growers with early size data to quickly and accurately assess how well pickers are picking to the brief.
This improves decision making in fruit packhouses regarding storage, packing, and sales, and reduces waste.
With hundreds of different apple varieties, Butters said they had to log different data sets for each, with the AI learning as it collects more information.
"We had to put in a lot of work to set out all of those unique conversions for different varieties.
Hawke's Bay-based Rockit Global was one of the early adopters, with Spectre now expanding to other fruits including the citrus industry.
Similar AI technology has been employed by Cropsy, a monitoring system for vineyards and orchards, which maps the plants as they grow.
Both systems operate using Amazon Web Services.
Head of small and medium business for commercial sales Haren Samarasekera said emerging technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence and data analytics deliver significant benefits to New Zealand's agricultural sector.
"These startups help contribute to New Zealand's economy, job creation and also create new and innovative offerings that help local farmers, growers, ecologists, and other customers challenge the status quo.
"We're proud to support them and our local agricultural sector."