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Advancing sustainable and tech driven apple orchard systems


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The PIPS3 Program’s  Advancing sustainable and technology driven apple orchard production systems (AP19003) project, led by Agriculture Victoria, has established it’s ‘Crop Load’ experiment in a Ruby Pink orchard block at Plunkett Orchard.  Physiological and sensing tool development studies are underway at the Ardmona orchard and Agriculture Victoria’s Sundial apple orchard at the Tatura SmartFarm to:

  • Determine relationships between fruit position and light exposure on colour development, sunburn damage, fruit quality and floral initiation.
  • Observe physiological mechanisms (e.g. chemical signals) to determine the impact of high crop load on floral initiation and differentiation, and fruit size in the subsequent season.
  • Develop a rapid orchard assessment tool, using a ground-based mobile sensing platform equipped with LiDAR and optical cameras (Green Atlas CartographerTM), to determine crop load for optimum fruit size.

In this video, Research Leader for Crop Physiology, Dr Ian Goodwin, has a chat to Plunkett Orchards Manager, Jason Shields, on how an accurate determination of crop yield and consistency within a block will improve the practical operations of the orchard.  Jason shares his experiences in ‘manually’ estimating the number of fruit to leave on a tree and determination of yield, including the pitfalls of this method that have lead him to trialling remote sensing technologies.  In partnership, the Agriculture Victorian research team and Plunkett Orchards aim to improve capability of the Green Atlas CartographerTM to not only determine fruit number, but take the next step to accurately estimate fruit size, colour and yield.




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