Apple inventory control for apple packers processors: manage apple storage, reduce apple shrinkage, full inventory control, packing, sales, shipping, and apple export.

Apple inventory control for apple packers processors: manage apple storage, reduce apple shrinkage, full inventory control, packing, sales, shipping, and apple export.


[Apple inventory control app] 

[Flower packing] 

[Food manufacturing]  

[Meat packing]  

[Farm management]  

[Fresh produce RFID]

99% less fresh produce packing waste

Accurate fresh produce & food inventory management reduces fresh produce waste through better FIFO stock rotation, stock-takes, and inventory alerts. RFID pallet control (optional) for precision inventory tracking. 

Save time packing fruit & vegetables

Increase the efficiency of fresh produce inventory using options like scanning incoming bar-codes to reduce data entry & errors, integrate with scales for automatic weighing, ore RFID for automatic fresh produce inventory tracking.

Better fresh produce quality control

Guarantee quality fresh produce packing with flexible fresh produce inspection  testing systems from your cell or tablet. Customer feedback management, supplier quality control and more...

Reduce fresh produce packing errors

Project required inventory (and potential shortages to ensure correct fresh produce raw materials), schedule orders to be packed in batches, automatic alerts to production line managers for waste and batch analysis.

100% accurate fresh produce order shipping

Shipping teams are guided through the dispatch process.  Pick orders using a cell / tablet, PC, (optional bar-code scanning), automatic picking, auto email or print bill of lading, invoice, send automatic shipping notifications for customers, transport, and sales teams.

Reduce fresh produce packing administration costs by 40%

Automatic generation of fresh produce labels, pallet labels, bill of lading, invoice, picking documents, export documents, and more; reduces administrative burden.

Easy audit & mock recall systems reduces compliance costs.

Faster fresh produce inventory storage  inventory

Accurate fresh produce & food inventory management delivers reduced waste and increased employee productivity. Manage FIFO, improve stock-take accuracy, scan harvester data, and keep a watchful eye on your inventory... Easy stock-take identifies shrinkage and helps reduce waste from ageing. 

100% accurate fresh produce inventory control

Maintain strict fresh produce inventory control and high food safety standards always. Perform recalls based on lot/batch, pack date, invoice #, inventory #, pallet #, delivery date, purchase order #, or perform a recall on your own user defined data. Perform instant recalls both up and down the supply chain. Makes audits easy and instant. COVID-19 food safety & auditing available. 

Reduce fresh produce waste by 99%

Inventory control ensures there is no 'shrinkage', food inventory is FIFO managed, and expiring inventory always monitored.

Increase customer satisfaction

From increase fresh produce quality control systems, to online portal for customer orders, shopping carts, and quality feedback.

Better fresh produce quality now

Quality control and food safety has never been easier with built in industry standard quality tests, food safety checklists; or ask your consultant to  configure inspections to match your requirements.

100% accurate orders!

Guarantee only the correct inventory is shipped for each order, on time, every time.

No more rejections from deliveries to customers because a pallet has some incorrect inventory on it.

Apple inventory control for apple packers processors: manage apple storage, reduce apple shrinkage, full inventory control, packing, sales, shipping, and apple export.

Farmsoft fresh produce inventory control is for fruit & vegetable packer, processor, import/export.  Full fresh produce inventory control, auditing, inventory control, and fresh produce business management app.

Quality inspection for fresh produce

Consistent and accurate quality inspection ensures higher customer satisfaction and adherence to industry, de-facto, and in-house quality control standards. Track supplier quality performance, customer feedback & complaints, create QC tests for any part of the fresh produce & food manufacturing process (incoming goods, raw materials, finished goods, expiry test, export/shipping tests), daily factory hygiene, machinery calibration, employee checklists... 

Fresh produce logistics

Manage orders, pack to order, picking and auto picking, dispatch & shipping process. Generate invoices, bill of lading, pick slips, export documentation and other sales documents... Dispatch teams are guided through the dispatch process ensuring every order is filled perfectly, and on time. Paperwork such as BOL, freight documents, export documents are automatically generated based on the customer and destination to guarantee no rejected shipments or issues at borders.

Fresh produce labels

Generate fresh produce SSCC pallet labels, GS1 case & PTI labels, bin labels, batch labels, traded unit labels, harvest labels and more. Use the built in industry standard labels for Walmart, Woolworths, Aldi, Tesco, Loblaws etc - or design your own with the built in label & report designer. Our team can design all of your fresh produce documents (including export documentation) to ensure farmsoft matches your requirements perfectly.

Fresh produce packing control

Sales, Quality, Profit, Dispatch, Pack, Farm...... Dashboards for sales teams provide instant impressions of customer orders and current inventory levels. The dispatch dashboard helps plan shipments, order of loading, and transport companies & drivers... The Profit analysis dashboard shows margins per unit and most profitable customers. Use our API to access your data however you like.

Fresh produce batch packing

Project required raw materials needed to pack/manufacture orders, potential shortages, schedule multiple orders to be packed in batches on selected production lines with a few clicks, automatically send new job alerts to managers, schedule additional harvests, analyze outstanding orders. Manage entire packing and manufacturing process with ease.

Fresh produce alerts monitoring

Automatic alerts for shipments can be sent to customers, transport providers, or even team members. Every time a batch is finished processing, receive an alert with the pack-out breakdown and percentages of grades & quality and waste. Alerts can include simple shipment notifications, or even invoices and original order details. Other alerts include order changes/modifications, yield reports, new order alerts, and low inventory alerts... 

Farm app option

Implement the farmsoft Farm Management suite to provide a comprehensive integrated business management solution from seed to plate. Includes automatic task management, best practices, budgeting, farm inventory, PHI enforcement, audits, residue reporting, USDA reporting, dashboards, farm profitability,  unlimited farms & companies, inventory control, recalls and more... 

Fresh produce supplier quality control

Suppliers must know that your business measures & tracks their fresh produce quality at all times. Any trends that effect the quality of fresh produce can be quickly detected, automatically traced back to the fresh produce supplier (especially if a result of a customer complaint / feedback), management and purchasing teams are automatically alerted when a supplier quality issue occurs. Quantify and analyze your suppliers performance using the Supplier Quality Dashboard. 

Fresh produce finance apps

Share fresh produce finance data by direct integration with Xero finance app, or export AP & AR to Quickbooks, MYOB, SAGE, Multiview, Saasant, from the interface, or use our API to integrate with any finance or other app through inhouse or outsource, or request our team perform a custom integration for your fresh produce company. This is an optional module, please ask your consultant for additional details and discuss your specific requirements, additional costs apply for integration with new apps.

Fresh produce RFID

Automatic tracking of each pallet’s exact location. Makes loading orders accurate and easy, stops errors during shipping. Very low costs to setup your hardware using farmsoft’s innovative RFID for fresh produce solution. Pallets put onto truck are auto added to order, and checked for accuracy. Pick up a pallet and its RFID instantly selected. Add pallet/bin to production line and its auto added to batch for inventory control.

Fresh produce API

Integrate with virtually any other app or software solution, or hardware using the farmsoft API. It's open! Anyone can use it. Your in house I.T. team, or any external I.T. vendor you want to help you with integration. Add your own reports, extract special data, or even create new interfaces between farmsoft and any app such as accounting, payroll, B2B, B2C. Other integration in farmsoft includes the ability to integrate with selected weigh scales to capture fresh produce net delivery weights.

Fresh produce bloch-chain

Increase customer confidence and prove the credentials of your inventory control integrity and transparency with block-chain ledger technology.   We use the blockchain solution. (Optional module not included with standard Packing / Food Manufacturing ERP solution - please discuss your requirements with your fresh produce farmsoft consultant).

Improve fresh produce production planning

Efficient management customer orders, and the ability to analyze orders gives you new production planning tolls in farmsoft. Ensure each order is filled to exact specifications, on time, every time. Increase customer satisfaction and retention, and reduce stress in the packhouse with confident production planning using work orders/batch orders, sales contracts, sales orders, and sales order items. Are you manufactruing or processing chili products? Try farmsoft for chili processing. 

Accurate fresh produce inventory control

Quality officers are guided through the quality control process, presented with images and instructions for each test, ensuring they know what to look for at all times, corrective actions are presented if a quality issue is detected. This makes training new fresh produce quality control officers fast, and ensures consistency in the quality control management processes for incoming fresh produce, post pack/post processing, storage, and dispatch. 

Efficient use of fresh produce cold stores

Maximize your cold store use and rotation of stock using farmsoft's pallet maps, and precision inventory control tracking with expiring inventory reminders.

Cold store management software for fruit importers, exporters, packers, cross docking, and short and long term fruit storage.

Map cool rooms in 3D including row, column, and optionally level for stacked pallets.

Apple inventory control for apple packers processors: manage apple storage, reduce apple shrinkage, full inventory control, packing, sales, shipping, and apple export.

The farmsoft inventory control app provides business wide quality management inspection systems for fresh produce, food manufacturing, seed processing, meat packing & processing, and flower packing.

Tesco food safety compliance food packers
Tesco food safety compliance for food manufacturers, packers, import, export, wholesale.  Tesco customers expect us to only sell products made to the highest quality and that are responsibly sourced. They trust us to ensure that all our products are safe and comply with all the applicable laws and regulations.

Within Tesco we have a number of highly skilled teams and colleagues across the globe that are dedicated to ensuring our customer expectations are not only met but exceeded. They manage the quality of products from the original product concept right through to our stores and customers.
Although this page is based on our UK business, a similar approach is taken across our international markets whilst ensuring all legal and cultural differences are acknowledged and catered for.  
Fresh Produce Bar Code Scanning

Fresh produce bar code scanning in agriculture easily delivers improved inventory control in the fruit boxing and fresh produce packing space.  The FarmSoft team has add new features to the FarmSoft packhouse mobile (smart phone, iphone, tablets, and PDA’s) interfaces and new interfaces for in line bar-code scanning to allow rapid recording of packed fruit and vegetable via bar-code systems. Implement FarmSoft to make your fresh produce fruit packing easier and more efficient. FarmSoft delivers bar code scanning for packing sheds, packhouses, and fruit packers, exporters, importers and wholesalers.

Bar-code inventory control

FarmSoft bar code inventory control is rapid to implement, and easy to maintain. Implementing FarmSoft bar code inventory control for fresh produce processing delivers increased accuracy of inventory control, easy inventory management, and can result in reduced fresh produce waste.
FarmSoft bar code inventory control provides multiple fruit labeling solutions which can be tailored to meet client inventory handling requirements.

Case level inventory control

Case level inventory control brings fresh produce processors, packers, and marketers easy and rapid inventory control. Implement FarmSoft in no time at all, and start reducing processing waste!  Easy to deploy, farmsoft case level inventory control is the best friend of any company looking to improve inventory control in their food / fresh produce processing enterprise. 

Farm to fork inventory control for reliable food safety and best handling practices for fresh produce – while reducing waste and increasing efficiency!  FarmSoft’s farm to fork inventory control solution delivers bullet proof fresh produce inventory control management in every way. FarmSoft’s farm to fork inventory control solution channels staff through the correct farming and fresh produce handling processes ensuring maximum food safety and inventory control is being maintained at all times.

Combine both FarmSoft Farm Software AND FarmSoft Fruit inventory control to create a complete farm to fork inventory control solution.

Fresh Produce inventory control India – FarmSoft’s fresh produce management software brings new levels of inventory control and efficiency to Indian farming and fresh produce packing, processing, and exporting.  FarmSoft guides users through the fresh produce handling procedures to ensure the safest, highest quality fruit and vegetables with minimum waste. From quality control, waste analysis, to fresh produce labeling – FarmSoft delivers for professional fruit and vegetable processors and packers. Download FarmSoft’s Fresh Produce inventory control India specifications here.

FarmSoft India
Professionally manage and monitor all post harvest processes including quality control, storage, inventory, sorting, grading, washing, packing, sales, invoice, and dispatch.
Traceability requirements matrix fresh produce

Traceability requirements matrix fresh produce packing, processing, value adding.   Traceability requirements matrix fresh produce
Traceability requirements matrix in fresh produce

EASY inventory control
Makes fresh inventory food safety compliance & audits easy.
Traceability requirements matrix fresh produce
Traceability requirements matrix fresh produce.
Blockchain for fresh produce inventory control

Visit our official fresh produce blockchain site for the latest fresh produce blockchain information.
Ask your farmsoft consultant if your chosen block-chain protocol or format is supported.
Blockchain – Essential for Fresh Produce inventory control
The Produce inventory control Initiative, was designed to help the Produce Industry maximize the effectiveness of current traceback procedures, while developing a standardized industry approach to enhance the speed and efficiency.
Food inventory control Software

FarmSoft food inventory control software delivers bulletproof food safety and reduces business risk.  The FarmSoft is built on a solid platform of food inventory control and safety standards. FarmSoft guides users through the food processing and manufacturing phases. The FarmSoft food inventory control software suite specializes in processing and manufacturing involving fresh produce, fruit, and vegetables. Dried, cured, juiced, pulped, or even made into value added jelly and jams. Click here to download food inventory control software specifications.

Fresh Produce inventory control Bar-code

Fresh Produce inventory control Bar-codes for fruit & vegetable packers, processors, and food manufacturers.  Fresh Produce inventory control is much more than applying a label to the packed fruit or vegetable. FarmSoft delivers strict fresh produce inventory control guidelines for supply chain end to end food safety & transparency.

Ensuring that the inventory control chain has no gaps in it is important to reduce the risk exposure of your business. If there is a breach in the inventory control chain, then the whole inventory control enforcement system has failed and becomes a pointless expense. FarmSoft ensures 100% accuracy of inventory control throughout the entire life-cycle of fresh produce, from pre-planting, to post sales inventory control guideline adherence. FarmSoft ensures your business is not unnecessarily exposed, while minimizing compliance costs. 

GS1 inventory control for fresh produce

FarmSoft GS1 inventory control system does much more than just print labels! Manage your inventory, maintain inventory control, pack, process, and store fresh produce. Perform sales and dispatch and invoicing. Reduce fresh produce waste.  FarmSoft GS1 inventory control system does much more than just print labels! Manage your inventory, maintain inventory control, pack, process, and store fresh produce. Perform sales and dispatch and invoicing. Reduce fresh produce waste.
farmsoft makes fresh produce GS1 inventory control easy!

Increase the efficiency of fresh produce deliveries using options like scanning incoming bar-codes to reduce data entry, save time, and reduce errors. Scan incoming fresh produce deliveries or use "one touch" rapid inventory creation screens to increase accuracy & reduce data entry time.

FarmSoft track and trace provides end to end supply chain transparency for fresh produce inventory control. Implement FarmSoft to guarantee the highest level of inventory control both up and down the supply chain!  FarmSoft track and trace is a comprehensive fresh produce business management solution that caters for all operational processes from quality control, inventory, sales, dispatch, and orders. FarmSoft even provides food manufacturing, good manufacturing management, and value adding features. FarmSoft track and trace software provides many innovative features to bring easily maintained benefits to the fresh produce processor, packer, and marketer.

Using the FarmSoft inventory control code, customers, and end consumers can track and trace fresh produce simply by scanning a QR code with their smartphone. The track and trace system will then present the customer/end consumer with the inventory control or marketing information as chosen by the packer. This helps to improve customer confidence and provides supply chain transparency to promote the concept of food safety.
Produce inventory control Initiative PTI

Produce inventory control Initiative (PTI), HACCP, GlobalGAP, CanGAP, EuroGAP, BRC, Bio-Terrorism, ISO and more…Simple PTI solution - software for fruit and vegetable processing

Farmsoft delivers opportunities to reduce waste during the packing, processing, storage, and distribution phases. By enforcing best practices, FIFO (when practical), inventory expiry monitoring, and easy stock takes - your company has every opportunity to minimize waste and maximize profit. From bar code managed inventory, inventory labeling, to 3D pallet storage, farmsoft delivers on reduced waste.
Perform recalls in seconds, with the full confidence of accuracy and reliability. Minimize risk by ensuring accurate inventory control is automatically captured. Pass audits with ease & reduce compliance costs using farmsofts inventory control guidelines. 

Inventory inventory control software for reduced post harvest waste

Inventory inventory control software
The purpose of the Fruit & Vegetables implementation guidance is to provide best practice guidelines for industry-wide adoption for New Item Listing and update of existing assortment. This guide provides support to companies seeking to electronically exchange fruit & vegetable product information in accordance with GS1 Standards. The guidance applies to the full range of fruit & vegetable trade items. The guide outlines which attributes should be used for fruit & vegetable items and recommends best practices for the use of these standards to exchange static fruit & vegetable data between suppliers and retailers. Today, different platforms as well as different means to item identification exist when it comes to data sharing. inventory control case study for Paramount Citrus, inventory control case study for Mother Earth Organic Mushrooms, SunFed visibility of produce throughout supply chain with case and item level inventory control. 

Simple inventory control solution

Simple inventory control solution - software for fruit and vegetable packing
Processors and packers involved in the fresh produce industry deal with a lot of compliance and inventory control issues. If the worst happens and a product recall needs to be effected immediately, they have to be able to trace where the raw ingredients of fruit and vegetables came from, what was done to them, when and where the finished products have gone.
Fresh produce processors and packers manufacturers are subject to quality audits and they can often practice recalls and food safety incidents. From a business perspective, these activities often can be expensive and cumbersome to comply with, without the use of a simple inventory control solution that is integrated into the businesses fresh produce handling processes and guidelines.

Less waste, more inventory control

Less waste, more inventory control: Full featured software for fresh produce processing, packing, sales, export/import & distribution.  MINIMIZE FRESH PRODUCE WASTE

For handlers of perishable goods, reduce waste during packing, processing, cold store, order picking and dispatch phases. Enforce GMP and best practices, FIFO (when practical), inventory expiry monitoring, and easy stock takes to help minimize waste and maximise profit. Receive detailed alerts when waste is encountered through quality issues, or possible human error.

Fresh produce export documentation

Farmsoft makes fresh produce export documentation easy with new features that generate international standard fresh produce export documentation for fresh produce producers, processors, and packers.   Rapidly generate fresh produce export documentation on demand!

Farmsoft makes fresh produce export documentation easy with new features that generate international standard fresh produce export documentation for fresh produce producers, processors, and packers. The modern packing and processing facility is busy environment. Dealing with the excess of export regulations and paperwork requirements can often be a headache.

Reduce fresh produce waste, Orders - Quality - Production - Sales & shipping - Recalls & audits - Dashboards, analysis, business intelligence.   Reduce fresh produce waste, make production and shipments 100% accurate

Strict inventory management ensures FIFO and no orphaned fresh produce inventory, no loss of inventory due handling processes.
Production management ensures every order is filled accurately, dispatch is planned in advance, and correct shipments dispatched on time, every time.

Trends in the fresh apple inventory industry indicate that apple quality will be a more significant determinant of the apple packing firm's ability to retain market share during the next decade. Because apples are perishable, the firm's ability to accurately coordinate orders and apple supplies enhances the firm's ability to compete in this quality, oriented market. This paper presents a computer simulation model designed to analyze alternative inventory control policies for an apple packing firm. A firm located in the State of New York, USA, is used to illustrate the model's usefulness.

Apple inventory as one of the fresh fruit commodities, needs specific treatment in material handling to keep the freshness of the product from farm to the consumers. One of the critical process to maintain the quality of the product is the inventory system. Inventory is one of the significant cost components in the production system. Therefore, the inventory system must be controlled to propose the optimal inventory level at the minimum cost. The objective of this paper is to minimise the inventory costs of fresh apple inventory in one of supermarket in Indonesia by using a multi-supplier Basnet-Leung formulation model since the retailer replenishes his inventory from several suppliers. This model allows the system to apply multi-products, multi-periods lot sizing and multi-suppliers. The result shows by comparing the costs components between the existing company inventory system and the proposed Basnet-Leung inventory system; the total cost is reduced up to 40.26%. It results in the total saving in purchasing cost, ordering cost, and holding cost up to 43.20%, 1.17%, and 44.31% respectively. To sum up, controlling the inventory level by using Basnet-Leung model will result in a more effective way of purchasing management.

Apple Inventory Eat food, not profits — with food industry inventory management
Say goodbye to spoilage. Using this article, you will learn how to optimize food industry inventory management and the ultimate tools for optimizing this process.

In the United States, the food industry inventory management is worth $1 trillion.
Last updated: 15.07.2022

And although it applies to the observation of how one thing can corrupt another, it too applies to us manufacturers handling food goods. One literal bad apple can spoil the literal barrel. If your livelihood depends on apples to make your apple pies, it doesn’t take much imagination to realize how this scenario isn’t good for you.

So, how do you ensure that your perishable inventory stays fresh?

Introducing food industry inventory management.

In this article, you’ll learn all about proper inventory management in food industry, tips for improving it, why it’s important, and the best tools for the job.

Farmsoft food traceability software
When handling perishable goods, it’s essential for end-to-end traceability. Farmsoft gives users the power to implement batch and expiry date tracking, ensuring industry compliance and giving manufacturers total visibility.
Read more about it here
There is approximately 1.8 million inventory management in food industry establishments in the United States.
What is food industry inventory management?
Food industry inventory management is the process of monitoring and maintaining stock levels of food company items in a commercial setting.

It includes:

Distributing food products
An effective food industry inventory management system helps businesses keep track of their food stocks, minimize waste, and ensure fresh and safe products.

An important part of inventory management in food industry is knowing how to store food items properly. This includes keeping track of expiration dates and using proper storage methods to ensure that products do not spoil or become contaminated. Additionally, businesses must regularly check their inventories to ensure enough supplies are on hand to meet demand planning.

Food industry inventory management systems can be manual or automated.

Manual systems typically involve paper records like inefficient spreadsheets and manual stock-taking, while automated systems like food inventory management software use computer software to track and manage stock levels. Automated systems can provide businesses with real-time data on inventory levels, which can help them make more informed decisions about ordering and stocking food items.

Effective inventory management process in the food industry is essential for running a profitable food manufacturing business.

It helps businesses keep track of their stock levels, minimize waste, and ensure that products are fresh and safe for consumption. Additionally, proper storage methods and regular inventory checks can help businesses avoid potential problems associated with food spoilage or contamination. Automated inventory management systems can provide businesses with tools for improving efficiency and accuracy in managing their food stocks.

Inventory management process in food industry in the United States generate about $200 billion in annual revenue.
What is food industry inventory management Software?
Food industry inventory management software is a tool that helps food businesses keep track of their stock levels, orders, and sales.

It can monitor trends and optimize order sizes to reduce waste and save money.

This type of software can be used by restaurants, grocery stores, caterers, and other food-related businesses. These programs offer many different features, but they all share the same goal — to help food businesses run more efficiently. Some common features of food industry inventory management software include:

The ability to track stock levels and sales data
The ability to generate reports on trends and inventory levels
The ability to set up reorder point alerts for when stock levels are low
The ability to create and manage orders
The ability to track supplier information
Food industry inventory management software is a valuable tool for any food business. Food software allows companies to save time and money while ensuring that their operations run smoothly.

Role of Transport FreshUp is a hypothetical company having apple...
Role of Transport

FreshUp is a hypothetical company having apple orchards in Shimla and Srinagar. The company supplies fresh apples to its retail clients in big metropolitan cities such as Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi. The shelf life of apples is five to seven days. The company currently uses road as a mode of transport, which takes around 72 hours to transfer the apples to the above-mentioned cities. On average, it takes 24 hours for apples to be picked up by the consumers from the retail stores. Thus, four days (of their five to seven-day shelf life) are wasted until the apples reach the consumers.

Integrated Horticultural Practices for Improving Apple Supply Chain Sustainability: A Case Study in the North China Plain
by Shan Jiang,Chen Yang,Yu Guo andXiaoqiang Jiao *
National Academy of Agriculture Green Development, Department of Plant Nutrition, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Riccardo Testa, Giuseppina Migliore, Giorgio Schifani and József Tóth
Agronomy 2021, 11(10), 1975;
Received: 2 August 2021 / Revised: 16 September 2021 / Accepted: 19 September 2021 / Published: 30 September 2021
(This article belongs to the Topic New Trends in Agri-Food Sector: Environmental, Economic and Social Perspectives)
Download PDF Browse Figures Citation Export
Apple production provides smallholders with low economic benefits, while high environmental emissions limit the sustainability of the apple supply chain. Furthermore, coordination to achieve greater economic benefits and environmental protection, thereby improving the sustainability of the apple supply chain, remains underdeveloped. Here, we have analyzed the current status of the economic benefits and environmental emissions of the apple production process and explored the level of collaboration within the apple supply chain, based on an analysis of farmer horticultural practices for high production, high economic benefit, and low environmental emissions, in combination with substance flow analysis. Our study showed that compared with traditional practice, high-yielding, high-efficiency practice allowed fruit yield, partial productivity of nitrogen fertilizer, and economic benefit to increase by 33%, 61% and 49%, respectively, while soil nitrogen residue levels decreased by 13%. The improvement and adoption of technology in the apple-planting process significantly improved the sustainability of the apple supply chain: the economic benefit increased by 63%, while the nitrogen footprint decreased by approximately 68%. Additionally, the application of integrated nutrient management technology in the apple planting process significantly improved the sustainability of apple production, thereby synergistically improving the economic and environmental impact of the apple supply chain.
Keywords: high yield and high efficiency; apple; supply chain; substance flow analysis (SFA); nutrient management; N flow; economic benefits
1. Introduction
The apple tree is a perennial deciduous species of the genus Malus, within the subfamily Malus of the Rosaceae family. Apples are rich in a variety of minerals and vitamins and have a high nutritional value. Furthermore, they are one of the four major fruits (apples, bananas, citrus, and pears) produced in China. Thus, Chinese total apple output in 2019 was 42.4 million tons, accounting for 36.2% of the total output of these major fruits [1,2]. Indeed, China is currently the largest apple cultivator and producer in the world, as well as a significant apple exporter. Consequently, apples are one of the most important cash crops in China [3] and play a vital role in the endeavors of smallholders to overcome poverty and become economically independent, improving rural economic conditions, and increasing the level of industrialization [4]. However, in pursuit of raising the output of apple cultivation, smallholders tend to use excessive amounts of fertilizers to maximize economic benefit. This extensive management strategy has led to a wasteful use of nutrient resources, causing a series of environmental problems that have severely limited the sustainability of the apple supply chain, such as groundwater nitrate pollution and soil acidification [5]. As in many others, the apple supply chain consists of many different links, including apple planting, apple processing, apple selling and distribution. Fruit supply-chain management is more complex than other food supply chains because it has unique characteristics, including storage-life considerations, the security and volatility of demand and price, inventory, production, and distribution [6]. Previous research on the apple supply chain mainly focused on post-harvest handling; however, the agricultural input and production process thereof, before harvest, have rarely been analyzed to any detail [7,8]. Thus, for example, in one the few previous studies available, Soto-Silva et al. (2017) proposed an optimization model for decision-making related to the purchasing, transportation, and storage of fresh agricultural products [8]. In turn, Paam et al. (2019) studied the impact of inventory management optimization on fruit loss, inventory, and processing costs in an apple supply chain [7]. Lastly, Khan et al. (2016) determined that the income of producers in the Pakistani apple supply chain was 27%, while that of intermediaries was as high as 73% [9].
While apple production is the main stage in the apple supply chain, apple production in China currently faces many difficult challenges, such as low yields, poor quality, low export volume, over-large scale, irrational variety structure, and significant variation in yield and resource utilization efficiency among orchards [10,11]. As the main players in apple production, smallholders have limited resources, low educational levels, and a low availability of technological inputs; such that they often resort to insurance strategies for nutrient management due to the limitations imposed by poor training, the influence of traditional concepts, the lack of agricultural extension services, and the misleading influence of fertilizer retailers. Together, these factors have led to excessive fertilization, such that nutrient input is much greater than crop requirements, whereby, improving the capacity of smallholders for apple production and rational nutrient management are key issues for increasing the economic and environmental benefits of the apple supply chain [12].
Numerous studies have shown increased production efficiency of apple trees. For example, Ge et al. (2017) reviewed currently available technologies for reducing apple fertilizer input while increasing fertilizer-use efficiency, mainly focusing on obstacles in soil improvement and fertility enhancement, optimal nutrient management, root layer nutrient regulation, and new fertilizers and “large formulas, small adjustments” [13]. In turn, Sun et al. (2018) conducted field trials over three consecutive years and found that the optimum depth for manure application was 20–40 cm, and that the optimum application rate was 75 m3∙hm−2, as it had the best effect on the growth, yield, and fruit quality of new apple shoots [14]. Most current research focuses on the effect of horticultural practices on a single stage and a single goal of and for the apple supply chain, while research on the multi-objective coordination of the apple supply chain is lacking, especially on how to achieve economic and environmental synergy within the supply chain. The disclosure of this information, while determining the localization technology of sustainable apple production, can also be of significance for smallholders in terms of optimizing resource utilization, improving resource utilization efficiency, achieving greater economic benefits, and reducing environmental emissions throughout the apple supply chain.
Therefore, in this study, we analyzed 66 smallholders in Quzhou County, a typical apple production area in the Bohai Bay region of the North China Plain. Our goals were: (1) to analyze the economic benefits and environmental emissions generated during apple planting/processing/sales, and (2) to clarify comprehensive horticultural practices to synergistically increase the economic benefits of the apple supply chain while reducing environmental emissions associated, and ways to sustainably improve the supply chain based on the analysis of different types of farmers.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Overview of the Research Area
The study area is located in Xianggongzhuang Village, Quzhou County, Hebei Province (36°46 N, 115°1 E). The site is located in the Heilongjiang Basin of the Haihe Plain on the eastern foot of Taihang Mountain in the southern Hebei Province. It is in the upper Zhanghe alluvial fan in the Heilonggang area at the intersection of the alluvial plains of the Zhang and Fuyang rivers and the alluvial plains of the Yellow River. The region is characterized by a warm temperate, semi-humid, continental monsoon climate and an annual average temperature of 13.1 °C and an annual average rainfall of 556.2 mm. Precipitation is concentrated in July–September, and rain and heat arrive simultaneously, which is beneficial for agricultural production; however, it is dry and windy in spring. The soil is mainly composed of clay. Xianggongzhuang Village is the largest apple-growing village in Quzhou County. There are >120 ha of apple planting land, accounting for approximately 52.9% of the total apple-cultivated area in the county, and 64.0% of the arable land in the village. Apple cultivation in Xianggongzhuang Village has promoted the development of the apple industry in the surrounding areas and, indeed, in the entire county. However, owing to the different characteristics of farmer types present and their different agronomic training, among other reasons, apple yield and quality vary substantially among different local farmers.
2.2. Farmer Survey
Our survey included the following five aspects. (1) Sample selection: 70 growers were randomly selected for questionnaire surveys among more than 210 apple growers in Xianggongzhuang Village, Quzhou County; 66 valid questionnaires were obtained, covering an area of 15.0 hm2, which accounted for approximately 12.5% of the local planting area. (2) Questionnaire design: this mainly included gathering basic farmer information, such as gender, age, educational level, apple variety planted, tree age, orchard tree-population density, etc., orchard management practices, such as fertilization application, fertilization period, fertilization type, irrigation frequency, time and frequency of pesticide application, use of a swelling agent, the amount of reflective film used, bagging period, number of bags, and other information items. (3) Implementation of the survey: the survey was conducted from July to September 2020; surveyors completed the questionnaire while asking questions; (4) Data revision: Due to the limited knowledge of farmers, their understanding of fruit tree management, and the degree of cooperation in research work, the data and information obtained in the survey may be different from the actual situation. To obtain information on yield and details on horticultural practices, the question-and-answer approach was utilized. After conducting the survey, the data were standardized and revised, and if necessary, a return visit was conducted via telephone. Through visits with 10 apple purchasers and three supermarkets in Quzhou County, apple wholesale and retail prices were collected.
The distribution of the indicators of the 66 smallholders in this survey is shown in Figure S1. The surveyed orchard trees were 5–30 years old. Forty-five smallholders (68.2%) possessed orchards < 15 years old (Figure S1a). The orchard area was 0.05~1.33 hm2, of which 40 smallholders (60.6%) possessed orchards < 0.20 hm2, and there were only five (7.6%) orchards >0.40 hm2 (Figure S1b). The distribution of organic N application rates of smallholders showed a U-shaped trend; 27 (40.9%) smallholders use an application rate of 0–200 kg∙hm−2, and 11 smallholders use > 1200 kg∙hm−2. There were 9, 3, 4, 3, 9, 11 smallholders who use application rates of 200–400, 400–600, 600–800, 800–1000, 1000–1200, and >1200 kg∙hm−2, respectively (Figure S1c). However, the application of N fertilizer by smallholders is mainly concentrated in the range of 200–800 kg∙hm−2, accounting for 71.2% (Figure S1d) of all growers surveyed.
2.3. Composition of the Apple Supply Chain in Quzhou County
The research framework and system boundaries of this study are shown in Figure 1. The apple supply chain is divided into three stages: pre-production, production, and post-production. Commercial agricultural inputs (chemical fertilizers, commercial manure, pesticides, reflective films, etc.) and livestock manure produced in the breeding process are transported into the orchard, and the producers follow a series of horticultural and soil management practices to obtain better planting procedures. Finally, apples enter the market through acquisitions, retail, or picking gardens, while bad fruit is returned to the fields or disposed of.
Agronomy 11 01975 g001 550Figure 1. Research framework and system boundaries.
2.4. Data Calculation
2.4.1. N Flow, N Loss, and N-Use Efficiency
The substance flow analysis (SFA) method is used to analyze N flow, N loss, and N use efficiency (NUE) in the apple supply chain system.
N flow: The source of N was determined according to the research situation, and the relevant parameters of the location of ammonia volatilization, denitrification, and soil residual were determined by referring to the literature (Table S1). N input, N loss, and N output were calculated. A Sankey diagram was used to clarify the source and location of N entering the system. The N footprint and NUE were then calculated using the following equations:
Ninput = I1 + I2 + I3 + I4 + I5, (1)
Noutput = O1 + O2, (2)
Nloss = Ninput − Noutput, (3)
N footprint = Ninput/(O1 − E5) (4)
NUE = (O1 − E5)/Ninput. (5)
Supplementary Table S1. Where N input is the total nitrogen input, I1 is the N input as chemical fertilizer, I2 is the N input as manure, I3 is the biologically fixed N, I4 is the atmospheric deposition of N, I5 is the irrigation water N, N output is the total output of N, O1 is the N content in the apple fruit, O2 is the N content in the apple tree (trunk, branches, and leaves), N loss is the loss of nitrogen, E5 is bad fruit, and N is low-quality apple yield.
2.4.2. Partial Productivity of Fertilizer
Partial Productivity of Fertilizer (PFP-N) is one of the indicators for smallholders’ classification, and the other is yield.
PFP-N = Y/FN (6)where, PFP-N is the partial productivity of N fertilizer (kg∙kg−1), Y is the apple yield (kg∙hm−2), and FN is the N input (kg∙hm−2).
The nutrient content of chemical fertilizers was calculated according to the standard nutrient content of the fertilizer, or the nutrient content marked in the fertilizer bag; meanwhile, manure was converted according to the manure nutrient content in Appendix 2 of the Guide to Fertilization of Major Crops in China (2009) [15], and expressed by the amount of converted pure nutrient.
2.4.3. Data Processing and Statistical Analysis
Data were collated, calculated, and plotted using Microsoft Excel 2010, e! Sankey (Version 4.1, Hamburg, Germany), and Origin 9.1 (Version 12.0, Systat Software Inc., San Jose, CA, USA). We conducted an independent sample t-test analysis of the test results using IBM SPSS statistics (Version 25, Chicago, CA, USA) and compared the significance of differences among treatments (p < 0.05).
3. Results
3.1. Classification and Screening of Smallholders
Our study was based on 66 smallholders, among whom, 17 high-yield and high-efficiency (HYHE) apple growers were selected using the quartet method, i.e., farmers whose fruit yield and PFP-N were both above the average of the 66 smallholders (Figure 2). The remaining three categories of farmers were high-yield, low-efficiency smallholders, low-yield high-efficiency smallholders, and low-yield low-efficiency smallholders, with sample sizes of 16, 8, and 25, respectively. We defined these three types of farmers as those following traditional practices (TPs).
Agronomy 11 01975 g002 550Figure 2. Distribution of the surveyed smallholders as per yield and partial productivity of the fertilizer (PFP-N). The dotted line in the figure represents the average yield and PFP-N.
In the planting stage, average apple yield of HYHE farmers was 50.3 t∙hm−2, PFP-N was 29.3 kg∙kg−1, and the economic benefit was 78,262.5 184 CNY∙hm−2, and the N footprint was 3.06 kg∙kg−1, which were 33.4%,61.2% and 48.8% higher than those of TPs. The N footprint was 3.06 kg∙kg−1, which was 67.6% lower than the average TP level (Figure 3).
Agronomy 11 01975 g003 550Figure 3. Comparison of indicators between traditional producers (TP) and high-yield high-efficiency (HYHE) farmers. (a) Yield, (b) PFP-N, (c) economic benefits, and (d) N footprint. ** p < 0.01.
3.2. Differences in Horticultural Management
On comparing the horticultural practices of the two groups, fertilizer N, P2O5, and K2O input among farmers in the HYHE group was lower than those of the TPs group by 48.6%, 52.8%, and 45.1%, respectively, and the fertilizer application was more concentrated. The N and K2O inputs of the two groups differed significantly (p < 0.01); similarly, P2O5 input was also significantly different (p < 0.05). The frequency of pesticide use in the HYHE group was 9.7% lower than that in the traditional farmer group, and the amount of reflective film was 36.3% higher among farmers in that group than among their counterparts in the latter (Figure 4).