Tracking System for Agriculturally Produced Crops

Technology #ua09-084

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Joel Spencer
Kurt Nolte
Director, County Extension, Yuma County
Managed By
Tod McCauley
Sr. Licensing Manager (520) 626-7916


Title:  Tracing System for Agriculturally Produced Crops

Background:  Leafy vegetables such as Iceberg lettuce are packed into cardboard cartons in the field at the harvest site.  This reduces mechanical damage during handling and subsequent transportation to market, and also allows quality attributes – such as field efficiency or postharvest quality – to be identified early in the supply chain.  Consumer demand for minimally processed fresh produce heightens the risk of produce contamination by pathogens which can heighten the decay process and, in some cases, make consumers seriously ill.  The ability to trace contaminated produce back to a specific field location is critical to the rapid and effective control and mitigation of a food-borne illness outbreak.  U.S. food producers have developed sophisticated systems to track the flow of food along the supply chain, for example, tracking food from the retailer back to the farm or a key point in the production process.  Researchers at The University of Arizona (UA) College of Agriculture and Life Sciences are extending the Tracing System for Agriculturally Produced Crops by adding the ability to georeference (at the carton-level) cut and packed Iceberg lettuce to a precise field location at the Yuma County Cooperative Extension in Yuma, AZ.  The system uses RFID and integrated GPS technologies to provide a field georeference for the carton containing the freshly cut and packed produce.

• Food harvesting, e.g., Iceberg lettuce production.
• Tracing agriculturally produced crops to the field
• Field-level yield monitoring of leafy greens.

• Real-time, GPS tracking of agriculturally produced commodities from the field to the customer, for improved supply change management.
• Integrates GPS, RFID and commodity traceback to precise field locations (to within 10-feet of exact harvest location), to improve accuracy of traceback.
• Web-based system for instantaneous tracing of commodities.
• Field level yield monitoring of agricultural products (e.g., leafy greens) to optimize produce and assets.

Stage of Development: A proof-of-concept system has been built and successfully tested in the field to demonstrate the first field-level, georeferenced, carton tracking system for the leafy green industry.

Lead Inventor: Prof. Kurt D. Knolte

Status: Provisional patent application filed; seeking commercial partner to license.

Refer to Case No. UA09-084