Attention to detail is key for high quality and yields in pineapples

Attention to detail is key for high quality and yields in pineapples

Paul Vergara is Chief Farm Operations Officer at La Donna Fruit Company in Panama. He manages over 160 ha of land including Pineapple production, natural forests, and lakes. Paul has a team of 50 people including two people monitoring the agronomy of the highly valuable crop.  Pineapples are Panama’s second most exported product, only behind bananas (source). According to Panamanian government figures from April 2016, the country’s pineapple production generates 77 million dollars and provides direct jobs for 60,000 people.

It takes a lot of space to grow pineapples and La Donna Fruit Company uses an area the size of 224 football pitches to grow them. Paul uses fieldmargin’s integration with DroneDeploy to plan drone flights and view maps. Being able to view the maps from his drone flights on fieldmargin makes it easy for him to share them with his team and view maps in the field using his tablet. 

“Using the drone I can image all my land amazingly quickly, it takes less than one afternoon.  I use the drone imagery as a scouting tool for finding problems in the fields. I can spot areas of weeds, disease, and monitor irrigation. This means that when I go on my field walks I can look at the imagery and go straight to the problems. This saves a lot of time and a lot of walking.”

“fieldmargin and DroneDeploy work very well together. I plan my flights with DroneDeploy and convert the images from them to maps. The maps are then automatically transferred to fieldmargin. In the next few years I plan to take precision farming further by using an IR camera with my drone and starting to detect issues with disease and drought earlier. I would also like to start mapping some fields to create localised treatment plans. I am also starting to use Satellite imagery using fieldmargin Pro. It will be very interesting to compare all the data.”

Pineapples take 12-14 months to produce in Panama and on the farm many different growth stages of the fruit are split across 20 blocks. Paul has used fieldmargin mapping features to draw and measure these blocks and identify new areas for production.

“Using the walking tool I can draw shapes by walking around them using the GPS on my phone. This means that I can very precisely measure new areas of land available for planting. It is handy that all the information is saved alongside all my other maps.”

Paul and his agronomists conduct regular audits of his farm. For the last 6 months they have been using fieldmargin to record key information. This includes any disease or pest occurrences, signs of nutrition deficiency and plant growth stage information. As the vast majority of treatment for pineapples is preventative, spotting and addressing issues as early as possible is vital. They also add photographs to share observations with others in the team and store as a permanent record. Over time, Paul will be able to look back at this data to see which treatments were the most effective. All of these notes and tasks on fieldmargin are attached to the blocks so the team will build up a block by block history of the La Donna Fruit Company.

“Overall producing quality pineapples with good yields is down to attention to detail, a strong team and making the most of all the tools available to you. I have really enjoyed using fieldmargin so far and I think it is the future. I am looking forward to building up my field history and including more technology in my farming.”

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