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Manage the harvest of agricultural and horticultural crops

Unit Descriptor This competency standard covers the process of planning for and implementing the harvest of agricultural and horticultural crops. It includes the estimation of the crop yield and value, the planning for resources that will be required, the negotiation of both insurance and equipment supply contracts, as well as planning for any emergencies that may occur. It requires the need to assess crop quality, and to budget and organise for the resources to arrive at the appropriate time and place. Managing the harvest is likely to be undertaken without supervision, with only general guidance on progress sought from others. This unit requires a detailed practical knowledge of some areas such as crop measurement techniques and parameters, and market information and sources.

1 . Determine crop quality
  1. The potential crop yield is assessed by measurements made in the field.

  2. The potential quality of the crop is assessed by testing the quality parameters before harvest.

  3. The value of each crop is estimated using the measurements taken and assessments made before harvest.

2 . Determine crop readiness
  1. Pre-harvest samples are sent to the laboratory/marketing agent to determine the potential quality of the crop.

  2. Weather patterns are monitored to assist in estimating the rate of ripening.

  3. The crop maturity is monitored to anticipate when the crop will be at its optimum, and thus when the harvest will begin.

  4. The incidence of pests is assessed to determine the requirement for, and the type of, pre-harvest treatment.

  5. Pre-harvest treatments are selected to ensure that the crop meets market requirements.

  6. All OHS and environmental requirements are adhered to throughout the application of pre-harvest treatments.

3 . Assess the need for insurance
  1. If the crop is estimated to be of sufficient value, and where commitments were made to insure the crop, these commitments are honoured.

  2. Strategies to manage financial risk are analysed and assessed, and implemented where they are found to be appropriate

4 . Plan harvest strategy
  1. The commencement date and the time span for harvest are estimated, so that the crop will be maintained in optimum condition.

  2. The equipment and labour resources required for harvest are calculated from the size of the crop and the time limitations on the harvest.

  3. The equipment and labour resources required are analysed against those available within the enterprise, and the amount of labour and equipment to be contracted is determined.

  4. Any equipment preparation that is required prior to harvest is planned for, in order that it is ready at the appropriate time.

  5. Where pre-harvest pest control treatments are to be applied, these are planned for according to the recommendations of the manufacturer and the legislative requirements.

  6. Any requirements for licenses, permits and notifications are determined, and arrangements are made for these requirements to be met.

  7. The order in which the harvest is to occur is determined, planned, and described in the plan.

5 . Plan for OHS hazard management
  1. All people involved in harvesting are made aware of the OHS hazards that may be present, their responsibilities for action, and the systems that are in place to deal with such hazards.

  2. Suitable controls are put in place to minimise or eliminate the OHS hazards, and so reduce risks.

  3. At each stage of the harvesting process, OHS hazards are monitored, identified and the associated risks are assessed.

6 . Plan for fire prevention and control
  1. The property is evaluated and the fire risks and hazards are identified where appropriate.

  2. A fire prevention and control strategy that addresses the identified risks and hazards, and includes the measures to be taken, is prepared where appropriate.

  3. The fire prevention and control strategy, and the specific measures to be taken are assessed to ensure that they meet legislative requirements where appropriate.

  4. Fire breaks are prepared in the manner, and locations identified in the strategy, where appropriate.

  5. Arrangements are made to ensure that firefighting equipment that is serviceable and meets appropriate fire authority standards and/or guidelines is available in the quantities prescribed by the strategy, where appropriate.

  6. Community fire control practices are understood and put in place where appropriate.

7 . Decide on storage and delivery requirements
  1. Storage facilities for the crop are allocated and arrangements are made for the immediate delivery of the crop to packing sheds, the bulk handling system, or other purchasers.

  2. Silos, storage bins and other containers are located to enable harvesting and transport operations to be as efficient as possible.

  3. Any OHS hazards presented by silo operation are identified and practices put in place to reduce risk to the health of operators.

  4. Storage is planned in such a way that it enables flexible marketing and distribution initiatives.

  5. Resources required for crop transport are evaluated, and where contractors are required, they are engaged.

  6. Where crops are to be dried, the strategies and resources for doing so are identified, ensuring safe working practices are enabled at all times.

8 . Implement the harvest strategy
  1. Where the weather patterns permit, pre-harvest pest control treatments are applied in the manner, and at the time, scheduled in the harvesting plan.

  2. All OHS and environmental requirements are adhered to throughout the application of pre-harvest treatments.

  3. All labour and equipment that is required for the harvest is organised to be ready and available at the scheduled place and time.

  4. The harvest is begun at the scheduled time when the crop will be at its optimum.

  5. All OHS practices are monitored throughout the harvest to ensure that staff and contractors work safely at all times.

  6. The order of the harvest described in the harvesting plan is followed.

  7. Harvesting operations are monitored regularly and adjusted to allow for weather, contracting and equipment maintenance needs.

  8. Truck, tractor and harvester operators are instructed on procedures to deliver each crop load at maximum quality.

9 . Segregate crop for quality
  1. As the crop is harvested, it is monitored for quality and assessed against the quality expectations in the harvesting plan.

  2. The quality of the crop is assessed throughout the harvest and segregated into the various marketing grades.

  3. Each grade is located and stored in the appropriate place as determined by the harvesting plan.

10 . Monitor moisture content
  1. Where relevant, crops are monitored for moisture content against classification standards.

  2. Weather patterns and forecasts are monitored to determine impact on moisture content.

  3. Harvesting operations are adjusted, as required, to control moisture in stored crop.

  4. When the ambient conditions cannot bring moisture to market standard, the crop is dried according to the prepared plans for drying and storage.

11 . Implement harvest schedule
  1. The schedules for harvest are reviewed in light of the weather and other conditions immediately before and during the harvest.

  2. Operating hours are managed to suit the resources available throughout the harvest.

  3. Equipment operation is co-ordinated for maximum efficiency, including allowances for downtime, maintenance and servicing requirements.

  4. Operator diaries are collated regularly throughout the harvest to identify any actual, or potential maintenance or operator issues.

  5. Any changes that are made to the initial plan are noted and a report made for input to subsequent harvest review and planning.

Key CompetencyExamples of ApplicationPerformance
How can information be collected, analysed and organised?By discussing and explaining the harvesting operation with the full range of field staff, contractors, bulk handling authority, insurance and stock agents.3
How are ideas and information communicated within this competency?In evaluating and assessing crop yield, value and resources.3
How are activities planned and organised?In selecting, scheduling and putting people and equipment to work.3
How are problem solving skills applied?In working with groups of people to complete specified activities and operations for the harvest.2
How are mathematical ideas and techniques used?In evaluating and assessing crop yield and quality, and subsequent value.2
How is use of technology applied?In recognising where amendment is required to the harvesting plan, and in contingency and emergency situations.3
How is team work used within this competency?In operating any necessary equipment prior to, and during, the harvest - communication technology, calculating equipment and measuring equipment.2

Range Statement

What crops may be subject to the yield assessment?

All crops harvested for the business may be assessed for yield. These may be agricultural crops such as wheat and coarse cereals, pulses, legumes, cotton, sugar, oilseeds, pasture seeds, and horticultural crops such as tree crops, vine crops, field crops, fruit and vegetables.

What kind of measurements are taken in the field?

Measurements are primarily objective and may include sampling, transects, past records, and visual assessment.

Which aspects of crop quality will be tested before harvest

Crops may be tested for moisture, protein, colour, size, ripeness, skin defects, sugar content, and size.

How might the order of harvesting be arranged?

Time of maturity, which may be influenced by soil type and crop variety and value, might affect order of harvest.

How is crop value determined?

This is done using current and forward market information.

What might be covered by any insurance taken out?

Crop insurance is likely to cover events such as fire, hail and transport.

What are the OHS hazards during a crop harvesting process?

Hazards that may arise include dust, extreme weather conditions, working in confined and enclosed spaces, working in the vicinity of pesticide residues, working with, and close to vehicles and plant, and applying pre-harvest chemical treatments.

What measures may be taken to prevent and control fires?

As part of the strategies that are put in place, the following issues and equipment might be considered: fire vehicles, portable equipment such as knapsacks and personal protective equipment, fixtures such as dams, tanks, pumps and water mains, communication devices, and constructions such as fire breaks.

There are a variety of ways in which crops can be stored. What might they include?

Storage facilities include portable field bins, boxes and containers, silos (temporary or fixed), horizontal storage, and direct delivery to bulk handling authority.

What resources might be required for haulage?

Equipment and vehicles will be required, and these could include trucks, trailers, tractors, augers, and/or field bins.

What OHS issues might impact on the harvesting operations?

Throughout the planning and operations for harvesting, precautions should be taken for fire prevention and control, dust protection, working in hot weather, working in confined and enclosed spaces, and working in the vicinity of pesticide residues. There are also issues concerning the use of vehicles and of pre-harvest chemical treatments.

What might the evaluation of fire risks and hazards cover?

Fire risk evaluation covers the possible nature of fires started on the property, equipment suitable to manage these fires, potential losses, capital available to purchase and maintain equipment, and range of possible fires that could enter the property.

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, some complementary skills are required. These skills are 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.