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Collaborative discussions and practical insights over day two and three of the 2023 APAL Technical Symposium


The 2023 APAL Technical Symposium, the annual R&D event for Australia’s apple and pear growers headed out into the orchard on day two after Agronomists, researchers and technical experts in the industry led a range of presentations on day one.

Photo: Abram Rasmussen Photography

Day two: Innovative orchard practices

The second day of the symposium began with a practical focus on orchard innovations. Attendees were treated to a visit to Tatura SmartFarm, an agricultural facility managed by Agriculture Victoria. The day commenced with machinery displays, technology presentations, and ongoing research projects that are shaping modern orchard management.

Subjects covered included new planting systems, row orientations, rootstocks, and photovoltaics integrated into orchards. Machinery demonstrations featured well-known brands such as Automated Ag, Revo, Frumaco, and Billo. Attendees also had the chance to interact with cutting-edge technologies like pneumatic defoliators, autonomous tractors, and remote sensing devices.

Engaging discussions took place throughout the morning, providing a platform for knowledge sharing and networking. Attendees could not only view innovative machinery but also interact with technical experts, posing questions about the showcased products.

Photo: Abram Rasmussen Photography


Photo: Abram Rasmussen Photography


The program then transitioned to orchard tours in the Ardmona area. These tours highlighted different planting systems, particularly high-density and multileader setups for apples and pears. Attendees gained insights into the management of these systems and the associated challenges.

At Plunkett Orchards, AgVic’s Alessio Scalisi and Dr. Ken Breen underscored the importance of effective canopy management for optimal light exposure. Calimna Orchard discussions revolved around netting experiences across regions, including labour costs and innovative pollination strategies. McNab Orchards demonstrated the outcomes of grafting as a swift and cost-effective method for restoring a Gala block to productivity. Mick Crisera of Fruit Growers Victoria shared findings from ground cover trials aimed at enhancing soil quality and tree performance.

The day concluded with the first “Pears in the Pub” gathering, providing a relaxed setting for discussing pear management challenges. Topics spanned from blush development research to practical approaches for managing pear scab and fungicides, with experts like Lexie McClymont and Mick Crisera leading the conversations.

Photo: Abram Rasmussen Photography

Day three: Touring Australia’s best packing facilities

The final day of the symposium commenced with a visit to Jeftomson’s packing facility, one of the country’s largest, showcasing packing technology advancements.

It was then onto Plunkett’s where Andrew Plunkett guided attendees through the facility, highlighting its adaptability in optimising labour utilisation, particularly valuable during challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo: Abram Rasmussen Photography


Photo: Abram Rasmussen Photography

Final thoughts

Nic Finger reflected on the success of the symposium, expressing satisfaction with the event’s impact on attendees from diverse apple and pear growing regions.

“The comprehensive line-up, spanning indoor sessions, orchard tours, machinery demonstrations, and the inaugural “Pears in the Pub” gathering, encapsulated the industry’s progress and innovation.”

APAL extends it’s gratitude to the event sponsors Unitec and Colin Campbell Chemicals, attendees, speakers, and growers for their contributions. The collaborative efforts of APAL, Agriculture Victoria, Fruit Growers Victoria, and various orchards were instrumental in the event’s success and its role in driving innovation within the apple and pear sector. We look forward to seeing you at the event next year!


Photo: Abram Rasmussen Photography


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