There’s no doubt that harvest is a busy time for orchards and vineyards. With ripe fruit ready to pick and pack and only a short time available to do the work, there can be lots of additional people and machinery at work.
From dealing with the likelihood of more incidents and risks to juggling endless tasks and managing biosecurity threats from unwanted pests and diseases being brought on the properties, this period comes with a lot of challenges for farm owners, property managers, and people responsible for managing the harvest season.
In this blog, we'll cover how Onside can be a useful tool to help you improve your operations and get more done during harvest season.
Let's dive in.
1. Knowing who’s on your properties in real-time
During harvest, most rural properties have a lot of people coming and going whether that’s your visitors, contractors, or staff.
Keeping track of the harvesting crews with text messages, phone calls, physical registers or in-person takes a lot of time, especially when they’re spread out across multiple properties.
How do you fix this problem?
A digital solution that simplifies the process and gives you instant notifications when people check in and check out. It gives you real-time visibility of everyone on your property, including what company they're from and what job they're doing. Most of the process can even be automated.
You can make it simple for seasonal workers and contractors to move around your property with the most up-to-date information —from points of interest to hazards—with easy-to-share digital property maps on their phones when they check-in.
Learn more about digital check-in.
2. Empower your harvesting crews to report hazards and incidents
Harvest season is the busiest time of the year, which means the risk of incidents is the highest due to time constraints and many tasks in motion.
So, how can you handle the health and safety of your properties to lessen the likelihood of incidents?
With Onside, you can create a safer work environment by giving workers a simple way to:
- See risks and hazards pinned on the property map
- Report a potential hazard, like ruts, wombat holes, or broken wires while working in the field
- Report unforeseen incidents or near-misses, such as a quad bike rollover
This not only reduces paperwork and saves time but also makes sure you get to know of any hazards and incidents without delay. When hazards and incidents are reported promptly through mobile devices, you can take timely action to resolve hazards and prevent incidents from recurring.
Timely incident reporting not only streamlines your operations but also fulfils legal responsibilities outlined in Australia’s Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and New Zealand’s Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, which mandate employers, including farm, vineyard, and orchard owners, to take all necessary steps to provide and maintain a safe work environment.
Even when your contract harvesters maintain their health and safety policies, it remains your responsibility, as per PCBU (Person Conducting Business or Undertaking) requirements, to ensure a secure work environment and keep them informed of the overall site risks and hazards.
Learn more about managing hazards on rural properties.
3. Pre-qualify contractors and keep them informed
With harvest season, you'll most likely be engaging with contractors during harvest season, whether it be seasonal workers or machine harvesters.
This means you have to make sure all your contractors are prequalified to do the job and have the right information to make sure they harvest the right blocks.
With Onside, you can take the stress out of managing your contractors:
- Even before a contractor gets to your property, you can share access to Onside where they can upload needed documents in advance, so you know they are licensed or qualified to operate and to undertake their role safely.
- Share live, digital maps of your properties with contractors so that they know where to go to harvest and can clearly see how many hectares are in each block to plan their time and resources accurately.
Learn more about contractor management.
4. Protect your rural properties from biosecurity threats
As footfall increases during harvest, biosecurity concerns rise. People who come into production areas to pick fruit can pose a risk. Harvesting machinery and equipment might be brought in at this time too, which are also potential carriers of unwanted pests and diseases.
You can still maintain a high level of biosecurity without slowing down the day-to-day harvest operations by taking small steps to protect your properties.
For example, Onside helps you:
- Create custom biosecurity questions to include in the check-in process. It's simple and quick to complete.
- Get alerts if an unwanted response to a biosecurity question is identified.
- Share information about biosecurity to educate visitors about common pests and diseases to protect your property from potential threats.
Biosecurity pre-screening and education are also important for people visiting properties as recreational visitors or looking to buy produce.
5. Stay organised and manage tasks in one place
When harvest season is in full swing, you are likely juggling many tasks at once. For example, you could be assigning blocks to be harvested, fixing broken irrigation and filling in ruts all at once.
With Onside, you can keep tasks organised and help your team do their tasks more efficiently. For example, you can easily:
- Assign tasks to everyone working on your property, be it your staff or seasonal workers.
- Share detailed instructions for tasks related to harvesting.
- Set due dates to ensure you don’t miss any key timelines.
- Get a 360 view of all tasks in progress and not yet done.
See how Onside can help you manage tasks better.
6. Keep your lone workers safe at all times
Harvest season can involve some people working alone or at odd hours. It can be hard to keep track of where they are or that they’re safe.
You can get your workers to set an expected departure time when they check in. If that time expires and they’re unresponsive, an automated call checks up on the worker to see if they’re okay.
If they don’t answer this call, or pick up and say they’re not okay, the automated dialler will call through a call tree you’ve assigned to that worker, making sure someone checks up on them to ensure their safety and well-being.
Sharing emergency contact information during the check-in process is recommended as a best practice by Worksafe Victoria.
If you are an orchard or vineyard owner or a person responsible for keeping people safe on a property, you can make sure people working remotely can:
- Call an emergency contact directly from the app without needing to have their phone number.
- See first aid contacts and evacuation points at a glance.
By using a digital tool like Onside, you can take charge of your harvest season. A successful harvest doesn't just happen; it's cultivated by great people and made more efficient with smart tools.
Onside takes the hassle out of admin tasks and lets you focus on what matters—maximising efficiency in your vineyards and orchards during harvest time.
Book a free demo and see how Onside can be your harvest partner.