Why sensors make sense

There are many factors that can affect the outcome of a successful crop. Mother Nature likes to throw all sorts of challenges our way, but we at Okanagan Specialty Fruits have installed sensors in our Arctic® apple orchards to try and stay one step ahead of her and, in turn, be more environmentally friendly!

Measuring soil moisture is an important factor in helping farmers manage their irrigation needs more efficiently. Our soil probes can analyze soil conditions and notify our farm managers exactly when it’s time to water. Plus, our irrigation system is automatically adjusted to distribute just the right amount of water in specific regions of the orchard, which means watering is occurring only when absolutely necessary, resulting in less water use. Improving soil conditions allows us to generate even more of our delicious apples and the quality of our crop during critical growth stages. Check out this infographic from Waterwise on how we can all do our part to help conserve water and how we can all benefit.

Better yet, there’s an app for all that! All the water and soil data, in addition to leaf wetness and climate and frost monitoring data, can be sent right to our phones from these sensors, making farming very different from what it used to be!

The sensors are also equipped with pheromone dispensers as an environmentally friendly alternative to using insecticidal sprays. The codling moth is a common pest to our favorite fruit, and if left uncontrolled its larvae can make its way deep into an apple and destroy the majority of a crop. The female moths release a sex pheromone into the environment, and the male moths are able to find them by following their pheromone trail. The pheromone dispensers trick the male moths by saturating the orchard with synthesized pheromones and preventing them from finding the females. This means mating is disrupted in the areas where the dispensers are located and reduces the need for insecticidal spray.

“Making sure our Arctic® apple orchards are run in a sustainable manner is a definite priority,” explains Neal Carter, President of OSF. “We certainly strive every day to make sure we are doing our part so future generations can enjoy Arctic® apples as well.”

We’re not sure if the male moths think these sensors are as amazing as we do, but we’re sure you can “sense” that our Arctic® apples and the environment enjoy all the benefits this innovative technology offers!




About Denise Briggs

Denise Briggs is the Communications Specialist for Okanagan Specialty Fruits. She resides in the beautiful Okanagan Valley with her family and values working for a company that promotes a healthy lifestyle.


  1. Most people will be totally surprised how technologically advanced modern horticulture/agriculture is. The smart use of smart technology to save water is a really good thing. And so is the replacement of pesticide use with pheromone saturation. However, I would also think that as more and more growers use ever more effective technologies for orchard pest management, insect populations, in this particular case the codling moth, will go more and more into decline. Is this something to be concerned about?
    For example, in Germany, a significant decline in insect biomass and diversity (fewer species) has been observed in the past 35 years. It is mostly attributed to the intensification of agriculture, which, of course, also includes increasing dominance of fewer varieties and more effective pest mansgement. The decline in bird and bat populations that feed on insects is a clearly visible consequence.

    • Denise Everett

      Hi Andreas. We couldn’t agree more – technology can definitely have some amazing benefits! In regards to your question, yes, pheromone dispensers do disrupt the mating of the codling moth, but the population does not decrease as much as it would if solely pesticides were used. This practice has actually been around for quite some time now – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the first registered pheromone in 1978. Thanks for your interest and have a great day!

  2. John Rankie

    Dear Denise, I’m certain that you (or your company) have investigated the consequences of reduced bird and bat populations, I’m sure that in rural areas it’s more apparent when you visually see less birds and to a lesser degree, the same can be said of bats. My question is other then a reduction in both population, what other species are effected due to a lessen amount of both birds and bats on the food change, if any.

    • Denise Everett

      Hi John. Thank you for your question. There are no species that are impacted by Arctic® apples. Multiple regulatory reviews have concluded that Arctic® apples are just as safe and have no different impact on the environment than any other apple.

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