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With bee pollen costing upwards of $3,000/kg, it’s disheartening for kiwifruit orchardists to see a large percentage of the precious commodity settle on the ground during artificial pollination.

So it won’t be surprising to see orchardists lining up at Northland Field Days to see the innovative machine that promises to increase kiwifruit yield, reduce costs and optimise timing.

The Pollensmart artificial pollinator is the brainchild of Bay of Plenty innovator and kiwifruit orchardist David Horwood.

Tired of watching pollen go to waste when pollinating his own kiwifruit vines, Horwood dreamt up a machine that would use the pollen much more efficiently - enabling growers to use less pollen and increase fruit size and quality.

Pollen is placed into the dispenser, which can be programmed to release the exact quantity required. The fan then blows the pollen onto the open flowers - not once like traditional machines, but four times, via a vacuum intake which recycles the fallen pollen.

The Pollensmart, which underwent research trials on several Bay of Plenty orchards in the 2015/16 season, was proven to increase yield, reduce costs and optimise timing.

Research showed that multiple, light applications of pollen gave superior results compared to a single pass with a heavy rate of pollen, and the more often a flower was pollinated, the bigger and better the fruit.

The machine, which is manufactured by The Wrangler Limited in Whakatane, won the National Fieldays Innovations Launch NZ top award in 2016 and has since been in full production.

The Pollensmart will only be exhibited at Northland Field Days at The Wrangler (site 168) and with artificial pollination due to take place in spring, it’s a great opportunity to see the machine that enables a smarter way to pollinate.

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