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2020 Winter Future Orchards Walks – The Future is now


Bringing it all together: where are we now and where are we going?

The 2020 winter Future Orchards® walks continue to deliver a strong and engaging program to bring the latest technology and orchard management techniques to growers.

Future Orchards is going virtual

In keeping with current travel and social distancing guidelines, we are taking Future Orchards online. The June 2020 orchard walks will be streamed to each region. While this style of orchard walk is different to the usual way, the online streaming does give us an opportunity to try out different delivery technologies while still sharing information and ideas. Please note that registration is essential.

What you will learn

AgFirst horticultural consultants Jonathan Brookes and Steve Spark will review the Future Orchards topics of the last four years: labour, trees, quality and climate to discuss what has been adopted, what has changed and what it will take to be globally competitive.

Dr Nigel Swarts from the University of Tasmania’s Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) will present outcomes from the Productivity, Irrigation, Pests and Soils (PIPS II) research project, and launch the Strategic Irrigation and Nitrogen Assessment Tool for Apples (SINATA). With a strong understanding of apple tree water and nitrogen use, together with new data on soil water availability within each soil profile Nigel’s team has compiled a user-friendly strategic support tool SINATA to assist growers with using the water and nutrient resources as efficiently as possible.

Last but not least, come on a virtual tour of serveral New Zealand apple orchards with Ross Wilson who will be discussing the pros and cons of different systems and demonstrating the latest critical winter tasks particularly winter pruning.

Dates and times

All walks will run from 9.00am – 10.45am (your local time).

Northern Loop

Southern Loop


Dr Nigel Swarts

Dr Nigel Swarts, University of Tasmania (Northern loop only)

Nigel is a Research Fellow at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture at the University of Tasmania. His research interests include tree physiology and specifically tree crop nutrition. Nigel leads the fertigation project for the PIPS II program.

Jonathan Brookes

Jonathan Brookes, AgFirst (Northern loop)

Jonathan has been involved in the New Zealand horticultural industry for more than 30 years and has a strong practical knowledge of pipfruit. Jonathan specialises in helping professional growers identify and monitor key performance indicators for the orchard business to find practical, cost-effective solutions to help lift performance and optimise profitability.

Steve Spark

Steve Spark, AgFirst (Southern loop)

Steve is a consultant with AgFirst. He has more than 20 years’ experience in pipfruit and kiwifruit. Working with clients, he provides intensive orchard consultancies on, orchard management, pruning, thinning, harvest management, pest and disease management. Steve also provides financial planning and monitoring, budgeting, performance analysis and purchase appraisals for a range of clients.

Ross WilsonRoss Wilson, AgFirst

Ross Wilson is a founding member of AgFirst and brings over 30 years’ horticulture experience to Future Orchards. A grower in his own right, Ross has firsthand experience of the apple industry. Grower education is a passion, and Ross is a key driver of APAL’s Future Orchards program, ensuring the latest technical advances and good tree management techniques make it to the hands of growers.


Future Orchards® is an APAL project funded by Hort Innovation using the apple and pear levy with matched funds from the Australian Government.

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