During the 2023 maple sugaring season, Fuller’s Sugarhouse began using a new (to us) technology, H2O Innovation Smartrek, which provides accurate intel on our tubing and tank systems and allows us to have eyes on the sugarbush and sugarhouse around the clock.
There are many advantages to this new monitoring system. Not only does this save time and manpower, but it is also helping us be better stewards of the land we are working on. The technology is tracked through apps on our cell phones. Each member of the woods crew has downloaded the app and enthusiastically embraced the system – often checking in on things before they even clock in for the day!
Here are a few examples of the ways we have utilized this new technology to offset our workload and better plan for busy days during the sugaring season.
Isolation of Trouble Areas
This year, we were able to look on our phones to identify potential trouble spots in the sap lines. At times, we are working in over 400 acres of woods, and with this new technology, we were able to isolate an individual mainline and only walk 2-3 acres, rather than the whole plot of land. Not only did this save us time but also allows us to leave less of an environmental impact as we go out to fix issues that arise.
When we are sugaring, once the snowpack is pretty-well gone, even though we leave the tracks on our 4-wheelers, it is still mud season. We are churning and by having this system, chances are we can stay out of some of those more fragile areas of the woods, save on fuel, and be a little kinder to the land.
Efficient Vacuum Levels
With this new technology, we can now look at individual main lines, which helps keep our vacuum higher and identify where there may be problem areas. Through the course of the 2023 sugaring season, we gained an average of 1-inch vacuum throughout the course of the season – which means 5-7% more sap was produced. That may not sound like much, but when you think about over 500,000 gallons of sap coming through, that is quite an impressive statistic!
We tap trees at a variety of elevations, and we often have situations where there are temperatures inversions; it might be colder at the Sugarhouse than it is out in the woods, for example. This tells us that while lines may freeze up around the sugarhouse, the wood lines will stay active, and we can estimate how many miles of piping that may be full on a particular day. This allows us to better prepare in the sugarhouse and know what’s coming our way.
There are still many tools we haven’t had a chance to figure out yet, but all the features we have utilized so far have allowed us to be greener and greener and that’s important to us. We are out in Mother Nature, the less impact we have, the better. This year, we boiled over 11,000 gallons of pure NH maple syrup, which Dave describes as an “incredible vintage crop.”