Seeding Food Innovation - Awarded Project 2019

Intelligent Orchards: Redefining the Production and Management of Tree Fruits

Project Description

We live in a time with rising costs of production, less available and increased labour costs to harvest our agricultural crops, competition for limited arable land, and a changing climate. Global trade issues and food insecurity cause us to reflect on how Canadians will feed themselves as well as other countries that depend on our food. Fostering innovative tools for farmers to remain economically and environmentally sustainable is key to prevent disruptions in our food system and to maintain food sovereignty.

Food Innovation

The primary goal of this innovative project is to advance and automate several processes in the apple orchard using an intelligent system to estimate flowering, yield, and quality parameters of tree fruit crops spatially in the orchard. This will be accomplished by using advanced machine vision and estimation strategies to identify the number of flowers and developing fruits in an orchard on an individual tree basis. Moreover, mathematical models to estimate yield and fruit size at harvest based on the flower and fruit counts will be developed to improve yield estimation and economic forecasting for growers and the tree fruit industry. The intelligent system by virtue of counting developing fruits, will improve the predictability of chemical thinning strategies, thereby reducing the need for hand-thinning leading to greater economic orchard sustainability.


Project outcomes include greater economic and environmental sustainability and higher quality produce that meets retailer/consumer requirements. Estimated labour will be reduced by 25%/ha and orchard revenue increased by 10% per hectare, associated with reduced need for hand-thinning and improved fruit quality, respectively. Other benefits include improved ability to estimate yields early in the growing season. The entire solution is systematic, efficient, and cost-effective. Knowledge transfer and training will ensure the system is easily integrated into best practices for the tree fruit industry.


John Cline

Dr. John Cline is a professor in the Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph where he teaches and conducts research in tree fruit pomology. John holds a B.Sc. in soil science (University of Guelph), M.Sc. in horticulture (Michigan State University), and a Ph.D. in Horticulture (University of London, UK). » More Info

Andrew Gadsden

Dr. S. Andrew Gadsden is an associate professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Guelph. He completed his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering and Management (Business) at McMaster University in 2006. In 2011, Andrew completed his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at McMaster in the area of » More Info

Mohammad Biglarbegian

Dr. Mohammad Biglarbegian is an associate professor with the School of Engineering, University of Guelph, and adjunct professor of the University of Waterloo, Canada. He is the director of the Advanced Mechatronics and Robot Control (AMRC) research laboratory where he and his students conduct » More Info

Haipeng Xie (Dr. Robot),

Dr Haipeng Xie is an Adjunct Professor at Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto; Chief Technology Officer of Dr Robot Inc. (; Founder of Dr X Academy, Canada ( Dr. Xie completed his Ph. D degree in Electrical & Computer Engineering at University of » More Info

Amanda Green (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture)

Amanda Green is a Tree Fruit Specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs in which works on extension of apple and pear production knowledge and transfer of technology; conducts applied orchard research trials, collaborates with university researchers and acts as a liaison » More Info

Andres Hurtado (Terranova)

Andres Hurtado is the co-founder of Terranova UAV, a Canadian company based in Toronto that provides precision agriculture services using drones. Andres is an entrepreneur with more than 12 years of engineering and project management experience. He attained his Bachelors in Chemical Engineering » More Info