APP-solutely a breeze

A growing number of Australian banana growers have discovered just how quick and easy record keeping can be thanks the specially-designed BetterBunch app, launched last year.

Developed by the Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) and funded by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP), the app allows growers to easily store and retrieve on-farm data, while also helping them to reduce their environmental footprint.

The BetterBunch app has some handy features, including a budgeting tool where a grower can set a nutrient budget with an alarm that will sound when the grower goes over their allocated budget. The information stored in the app can also assist with Freshcare compliance and other food safety audits.

The app was designed to complement the banana industry’s Best Management Practice (BMP) Guidelines. It allows growers to easily record data relating to their BMP, including application and calibration schedules for fertilisers and chemicals, weather conditions, irrigation scheduling and planting records. All, in the palm of their hands.

The new mobile phone technology can be easily downloaded onto smartphones, computers and tablets.

ABGC Extension Officer Robert Mayers, who was instrumental in the development of BetterBunch said he was pleased with the number of growers using the new technology since its launch last September.

“Growers covering more than 2700 hectares of banana farming area have learned how to use the BetterBunch app,” Mr Mayers said. “The response has been great. One grower said, “I’ve been wanting something like this for a long time’.”

“We are still tweaking the program, as we see changes that are needed. But the things that we are modifying will make it even easier to use.”

Mr Mayers said he’d like to see more growers making use of the app so they could see the benefits of the program and how easy it was to use.

“Some growers may think it is too hard to use, but that was the idea, to make it simple and easy to use to save the growers time, and we definitely have achieved this.”

Michelle McKinlay, Industry Strategy Manager with the ABGC said the app had multiple benefits for growers, significantly taking the guesswork out of how much fertiliser they applied.

“We are extremely confident that this free app can save growers some money by reducing fertilizer costs and also improve the quality of water leaving their farms,” Ms McKinlay said.

“This app can help banana growers reduce their impact on the Great Barrier Reef, by assisting in the management of environmentally-sustainable farming practices.”

Growers who would like to use the app must have first completed their BMP. If you don’t have mobile service on your farm, you can still use the BetterBunch app. You simply record your data in the field and then once you are back in range you sync the phone to your computer.

Mr Mayers is available to assist growers if they need help with their BMP or the BetterBunch app. A BetterBunch instructional video can be viewed on the ABGC’s website — For further information please contact Mr Mayers via email or phone 0447 000 203.