The next round of Future Orchards® walks are set to commence at the end of January with special guests Mauricio Frias from Chile and Dr Nigel Swarts from the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture at the University of Tasmania.
|Future Orchards walks: Summer 2016|
The topics for the next round of walks will differ on each loop with the northern team focusing on growing apples using mechanisation, and the southern group looking at tree crop nutrition and physiology.
Mauricio Frias is a horticultural consultant with the Pomanova Group in Chile and will be the guest for the northern loop. He has more than 30 years’ experience in horticulture specialising in apples, pears, cherries and kiwifruit. Mauricio spends a great deal of time travelling out of Chile to learn the latest techniques and management ideas in horticulture.
Mauricio’s areas of expertise include: all aspects of fruit production; mechanisation of fruit production; critical orchard analysis; sprayer diagnostic and calibration for a desirable coverage at maximum speed with limited water volume; and thinning apples: primary (winter pruning), secondary (flowers), and tertiary (fruitlets).
APAL Technical Manager Angus Crawford said he’s looking forward to meeting Mauricio as he was unable to join the team at the last minute during the Autumn walks earlier this year.
“Future Orchards are looking at labour as Australian apple and pear growers are currently subject to some of the highest costs of labour in the world, yet the uptake in innovations such as mechanisation in the industry is slow. In contrast, the Chilean apple industry has access to probably the cheapest labour in the world, so a couple of questions I have for Mauricio are, why such a focus on reducing labour? And, why push for mechanisation? Of course the answers might be obvious but there is much to learn about the inner workings of the Chilean apple industry as we look at how to improve our own labour productivity,” Angus said.
“Many growers will be familiar with the work Nigel Swarts does at TIA and it will also be great to learn from him as a guest on the southern loop of the walks.”
Nigel is a Post-doctoral Research Fellow and is interested in the field of tree physiology and specifically tree crop nutrition. Nigel leads two collaborative projects on nitrogen management in tree crop production systems, and is currently supervising three PhD students and two honours students. Nigel has a background in conservation biology with research focusing on rare and endangered orchids from across Australia. He has a strong track record in the field of orchid conservation with two highly cited review articles.
Jonathan Brookes and Craig Hornblow from AgFirst will also be joining the team on the northern and southern loops respectively.
APAL’s Future Orchards® program is funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia Ltd using the apple and pear industry levy funds from growers and funds from the Australian Government. AgFirst is a key Future Orchards partner.
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