Australian apple and pear industry innovation and adoption program (AP15004) and Delivery of apple and pear Future Orchards extension program (AP15005)
What was it all about?
From 2016 to 2021, these investments delivered the apple and pear Future Orchards program which was responsible for accelerating and expanding the adoption of innovation and technology in apple and pear businesses and facilitating industry capacity-building.
Future Orchards is an internationally renowned technology-transfer program. It includes regular orchard field walks, orchard benchmarking, and orchard business analysis to deliver world’s best practice and R&D linkages to apple and pear growers in Australia’s major growing regions.
Project AP15005 was specifically responsible for the technical delivery of the Future Orchards program. It covers the Focus Orchards network to demonstrate the adoption of best practice and new technology, Focus Orchard properties, OrchardNet, Orchard Business Analysis reporting and regional trials.
These investments employed expert guests, in-orchard walks and on-farm demonstration trials to convey world’s best practice and R&D outcomes to growers in each of the eight major apple and/or pear growing regions across Australia (Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Victoria, Southern Victoria, Tasmania, Stanthorpe, Queensland and Batlow and Orange in NSW). Front line advisors and community orchard groups provided a conduit to growers in each of the regions to ensure local relevance and delivery of outcomes for growers.
Orchard walks were held two or three times each year (alternating years) across the eight growing regions. Attendance ranged between 175 and 376 participants for each ‘loop’ of orchard walks across the eight regions, depending on seasonality and competing orchard activities.
Demonstration trials conducted in each of the regions addressed issues identified to be of interest locally. Trial results were presented at orchard walks and shared more broadly via APAL’s media platforms. International guests continued to attract growers and the link with AgFirst via AP15005 ensured content provided was locally and globally relevant and current.
The project facilitated transfer of other relevant R&D outcomes, knowledge, innovations and technologies via extension events including annual Speed Updating/Technical Day symposia, Pear Masterclasses and Postharvest seminars. All project events continued to attract new participants each year. Evaluations conducted after project events and activities indicate that the majority of participants (frequently 90-100 per cent) left an event having learned something that they were likely to try on their own orchard.
Via the appointment of a Technical Manager, AP15004 also provided comprehensive technical support around biosecurity preparedness and response, crop protection stewardship, targeted post-harvest improvements, export preparedness, grower services, R&D transfer and general technical assistance. Collectively the activities contribute to an ever more productive, profitable and globally competitive apple and pear industry.
Benchmarking data collected and modelled for the Orchard Business Analysis (OBA) (AP15005) indicates average Class 1 yield for apples and pears increased from 25.8 t/ha (69 per cent of total yield) to 30.5 t/ha (71 per cent of total yield) in 2020, demonstrating improvements not only in yield, but more importantly, quality.
- Visit the Future Orchards section of the APAL website at apal.org.au/future-orchards. Future Orchards produces technical articles and recaps of learning from orchard walks which are housed here, as well as updates and other resources. This content is shared through the levy-funded Australian Fruitgrower magazine too.
- Access the Future Orchards library at apal.org/future-orchards-library to find presentations and notes from past orchard walks, as well as Future Orchard webinars.
- Access OrchardNetat com/orchardnet - this is an online database allowing live business updates to be shared with managers, consultants, pack houses and exporters. It also tracks history, provides benchmarks and forecast performances, and houses data from Focus Orchards/orchard trials from the program.
978-0-7341-4671-7 and 978-0-7341-4731-8
These projects were funded through the Hort Innovation Apple and Pear Fund using the apple and pear R&D levy and contributions from the Australian Government
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