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Support horticultural crop harvesting

Unit Descriptor This competency standard covers the process of crop picking and related tasks such as routine assessment of crop readiness for harvest, basic sorting, bunching and grading, and transportation of the crop from the field. Work is likely to be under routine supervision with intermittent checking. Responsibility for some roles and co-ordination within a team may be required. Crop harvesting is usually carried out within established company procedures. Competency at this level is demonstrated by the application of knowledge and skills to a range of crop harvesting tasks and roles.

1 . Perform routine assessment of plant products for harvest
  1. Crop maturity is determined according to supervisors instructions and enterprise work procedures.

  2. Analysis is reported to the supervisor according to enterprise work procedures.

  3. The crop selected for harvesting conforms to enterprise market requirements.

2 . Prepare equipment for harvesting
  1. Tools, equipment and machinery appropriate to the task being undertaken are selected.

  2. Pre-operational and safety checks are carried out on tools, equipment and machinery according to manufacturers specifications and enterprise work procedures.

  3. OHS hazards are identified, risks assessed and reported to the supervisor.

  4. Suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) is selected, used and maintained.

3 . Harvest the crop
  1. Harvesting practices employed minimise plant damage and reflect efficient use of time, resources and labour as per enterprise work procedures.

  2. Harvesting the crop is undertaken according to OHS requirements.

  3. Basic sorting and grading of the crop is carried out according to enterprise work procedures.

  4. Harvesting tools, equipment and machinery are cleaned and maintained according to enterprise work procedures.

  5. Problems are reported to the supervisor.

4 . Transport the crop
  1. Safe manual handling techniques are employed when handling containers.

  2. Containers are moved and stacked in such a way that minimises damage to the crop.

  3. Temperature of the crop is maintained at the levels set by industry and enterprise work procedures.

  4. The crop is transported from the field to the processing or storage area.

  5. Containers are maintained in good working order.

Key CompetencyExamples of ApplicationPerformance
How can information be collected, analysed and organised?Ideas and information about crop selection, crop maturity standards, harvesting procedures, grading requirements and transportation methods should be discussed with other members of the work team and the supervisor.1
How are ideas and information communicated within this competency?Enterprise work procedures should be consulted, interpreted and applied to crop harvesting activities with further clarification sought from the supervisor where necessary.1
How are activities planned and organised?Tools, equipment and machinery, harvesting schedule, own work activities and co-ordination in the work team should be organised according to enterprise work procedures such as supervisors instructions and production schedules.1
How are problem solving skills applied?Crop harvesting usually involves co-ordination and participation with other members of a production team to complete specified tasks and maximise production schedules.1
How are mathematical ideas and techniques used?Mathematical concepts may be used in counting; tallying and calculating individual and team harvesting output or hours worked.1
How is use of technology applied?Problems relating to harvesting techniques, processes, the crop, workplace safety and other team members may arise during the harvesting of a crop.1
How is team work used within this competency?Technology may be applied in the preparation, use and maintenance of harvesting tools, equipment and machinery.1

Range Statement

How is the maturity of a crop determined?

Maturity parameters may include size, weight, length, shape, colour, ripeness, texture, skin condition, ease of removal and moisture content. These characteristics may be measured by observation and maturity testing tools and equipment such as knives, sizing rings, colour charts, refractometers, and penetrometers and produce firmness testers. The results are interpreted and analysed by comparison with specification charts and enterprise and industry maturity standards.

What enterprise work procedures may apply to this standard?

Work procedures will be based on sound horticultural principles and practices and may include supervisors oral or written instructions, harvest program or production schedule, enterprise standard operating procedures (SOPs), specifications, routine maintenance schedules, work notes; manufacturers service specifications and operators manuals; waste disposal, recycling and re-use guidelines; and OHS procedures.

What types of crop may be harvested?

Fruit, vegetable, flower, foliage and bulb crops may be included.

What enterprise market requirements may influence the crop being harvested?

Enterprise market requirements may include variety, size, weight, length, shape, colour, health and quality depending on seasonal and market forces.

What tools, equipment and machinery may be used to carry out crop harvesting procedures?

Tools, equipment and machinery may include secateurs, knives, machetes, rubber bands, string, callipers or sizing rings, specification charts or aids, gloves, bags, ladders, tractors, trailers, forklifts, powered ladders, containers, buckets, dip tins and bins.

What OHS hazards may be associated with harvesting a crop?

Hazards may include solar radiation, noise, dust, pollen, pests, sharp hand tools and equipment, manual handling, ladders, slippery or uneven surfaces, potholes and moving machinery and vehicles.

What personal protective equipment (PPE) may be required to support crop harvesting?

Personal protective equipment may include boots, overalls, gloves, goggles, face mask, hearing protection, and sun hat and sunscreen lotion.

What harvesting practices may be employed to harvest a crop?

Harvesting practices may include correct use of equipment, select picking, reporting or recording tallies, removing out-of-type plants and removing rotten or immature fruit. Plant and crop damage may be minimised by wearing gloves, cutting fingernails, maintaining sharp tools, placing rather than dropping the crop into containers, observing fill heights or packing instructions for containers, and correctly stacking containers on transport.

What OHS requirements may be relevant to this standard?

OHS requirements may include identifying hazards, assessing and reporting risks, cleaning, maintaining and storing tools, equipment and machinery; appropriate use of personal protective equipment including sun protection, drinking to avoid dehydration, safe operation of tools, equipment and machinery, correct manual handling, basic first aid, personal hygiene and reporting problems to supervisors.

What does sorting and grading of the crop involve?

Sorting and grading may include removing out-of-type plants, or physically damaged, unhealthy, rotten or immature fruit and vegetables. The crop may be graded according to variety, size, length, colour, maturity, blemishes, bud count and quality, which are subject to seasonal and market forces. Crop in doubt is checked with the supervisor. Any out-of-standard produce should be disposed of according to enterprise policy.

What problems may arise when harvesting a crop?

Problems may include hazards, pests, tools, equipment and machinery, crop quality, other team members, climate or plant health.

What types of containers may be used in crop harvesting?

Containers may include boxes, trays, crates, bulk bins or net bags.

How is the temperature of a crop maintained in the field and upon delivery at the processing or storage area?

Crops may need to be stored in the shade, in water-filled or covered containers in the field. In the shed storage may occur in a temperature-controlled environment such as a cool room. These may include forced air cool rooms for table grapes, hydro cool rooms for stone fruit and vacuum cool rooms for mushrooms.

How is the crop transported from the field to the processing area?

Produce is picked into containers and transported by tractor, trailer, truck or forklift. Team members involved in the operation of vehicles should comply with operators manuals, and enterprise work and OHS procedures.

Evidence Guide

What specific knowledge is needed to achieve the performance criteria?

Knowledge and understanding are essential to apply this standard in the workplace, to transfer the skills to other contexts, and to deal with unplanned events. The knowledge requirements for this competency standard are listed below:

What specific skills are needed to achieve the performance criteria?

To achieve the performance criteria, appropriate literacy and numeracy levels as well as some complementary skills are required. These include the ability to:

Are there other competency standards that could be assessed with this one?

This competency standard could be assessed on its own or in combination with other competencies relevant to the job function.

Essential Assessment Information

There is essential information about assessing this competency standard for consistent performance and where and how it may be assessed, in the Assessment Guidelines for this Training Package. All users of these competency standards must have access to the Assessment Guidelines. Further advice may also be sought from the relevant sector booklet.