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Ongoing project

Improved Australian apple and pear orchard soil health and plant nutrition (AP19006)

Key research provider: University of Tasmania

What's it all about?

This investment is developing the knowledge needed on soil health and plant nutrition to maximise quality and yield in apple and pear orchards. This research will provide the tools for growers to create orchards that use resources efficiently and sustainably, particularly under an increasingly variable climate.

A user-friendly web app will ultimately be developed by the project team as a decision support tool, providing growers and consultants with practical, easy to use irrigation and nutrient management tools and resources that can be accessed in the field. The app will be driven by the ‘SINATA’ model, which is the Strategic Irrigation and Nitrogen Assessment Tool for Apples developed through earlier levy-funded research Improved tree and fruit nutrition for the Australian apple industry (AP14023).

The project team will also set up replicated research trials in each of the five main growing regions for apples and pears to closely examine sustainable orchard management practices to improve soil health, biological function, plant nutrition and reduce pest/disease incursions. These trial sites will also be used as demonstration sites for field walks in conjunction with the levy-funded Future Orchards extension program, to help growers’ access and adopt research findings.

Together these trials will develop a detailed understanding of the biological, physical and chemical indicators that best describe soil health in apple and pear orchards.

This project is part of the PIPS3 program for the apple and pear industry (the third iteration of the Productivity, Irrigation, Pests and Soils program). The other investments that make up this scope of work are:

The work done through this project, and the PIPS3 program, will be communicated to industry extensively through the levy-funded National apple and pear industry communications program (AP18000) and Future Orchards program Delivery of apple and pear Future Orchards extension program (AP15005). You can sign up to receive industry communications at  

Despite some initial delays due to weather and COVID restrictions, project activities are well underway with progress in the following areas:

  • The intensive research trial sites and regional sites are now established, with harvest set for the 2022 season
  • Soil samples have been collected to provide baseline soil nutrient levels
  • Information about the project was shared at the Tasmanian autumn Future Orchards Walk
  • To encourage grower interest and participation, a ‘Soil your Undies’ campaign was promoted at the FGT June Conference, ready to commence on 1 September 2021.


Read more and watch a video about the project on APALs website, as part of the PIPS3 program.

Find out more about taking part in the Soil your Undies campaign.

Related levy funds

This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Apple and Pear Fund