Support for

Creating a better future for Australian apple and pear growers,
through industry leadership and commercial advancement.


Building Sustainable Soils

The research

This project aims to improve the adoption of profitable and sustainable soil, nutrient and water management practices in apple and pear orchards by:

  • Developing and evaluating strategies and technologies for efficient and reliable orchard soil, nutrient and water management.
  • Developing new knowledge linking orchard management practices with soil health and longer-term environmental and business sustainability.
  • Evaluating the cumulative economic impact of changes to orchard soil management and integrated pest and disease management (IPDM) on overall orchard profitability.
  • Demonstrating the potential of evidence-based indicators of environmental sustainability and economic benefit, particularly longer-term soil carbon capture and storage, and water, nutrient and labour use efficiency.

The activities

Experiment and demonstration sites are based in commercial orchards of Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia, NSW and South Australia to measure how orchard floor management strategies impact:

✓ Soil health indicators: biological, chemical and physical.

✓ Tree health, fruit yield and fruit quality.

✓ Local IPDM relationships with orchard floor managements, particularly habitat and food creation for pollination and predatory services.


Long-term studies and regionally specific trials

  • In Tasmania tree-line treatments of living mulches and composts are being continued and new inter-row management strategies are being applied. This is building six seasons of data to show long-term impact of orchard floor management on indicators of environmental sustainability and economic value.
  • In other regions, orchard floor tree-line and inter-row cover cropping management sites are evaluating the impact of different orchard floor management strategies using locally relevant treatments.
  • Regional grower-based trials of the SWAN Systems irrigation and nutrient decision, including integration of new nitrogen budgeting capabilities.


Further information contact details:
Dr Nigel Swarts
Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture-University of Tasmania
[email protected]


Building Sustainable Soils (AP22003) resources are also located on the University of Tasmania Website.

More on the soils of Australia’s apple growing regions can be found on the SE Australia’s Apple Growing Soils website.

Use the Strategic Irrigation and Nitrogen Assessment Tool for Apples (SINATA).

  • Project Leader

    Dr Nigel Swarts
  • Email

  • Lead Agency

    Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
  • Lead Researcher

    Dr Sally Bound​
  • Email

  • Lead Agency

    Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
  • Project Research Partners

    Pomewest, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Lenswood Apples, APAL

PIPS 4 Profit

Research Partners