Developing agri-tech solutions for the Australian apple industry (AP16005)
What’s it all about?
Contracted during 2018, this investment represents a new step in the age of ‘digital agriculture’ and autonomous operation. It is supporting the development of a new technological system that can perform autonomous flower density mapping and tree canopy measurement, which will be able to be used with spray equipment to provide decision support for variable rate autonomous spraying in apple crops.
The project team has fully established its research base at Shepparton in Victoria, Australia’s largest apple production zone. They are continuing to develop and improve the automated system’s features and functionality to optimise the navigation and obstacle detection within an orchard environment.
During the 2018 flowering season, scanning was conducted for full bloom flowering and data sets were collected to investigate the feasibility of image analysis.
In the 2019 season, successful variable rate spray application was achieved in a test block of Gala and Pink Lady varieties, using prescription maps generated from local agronomic advice. Spray application was validated through flower cluster and fruitlet counts. Ongoing development of sprayer systems is underway.
The project team attended Hort Connections and presented at several events including with Fruit Growers Victoria, the Society of Precision Ag Symposium, the Future Orchard Walks program, and the APAL Grower R&D Updates.
A brief article introducing the project was included in the October/November 2018 edition of the levy-funded Australian Fruitgrower magazine, which you can read here.
With this investment now getting into swing, check back for updates and look for information in industry channels as it become available.
This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Apple and Pear Fund