Pear production systems for future climates (PIPS 4 Profit) (AP22002)
What is it all about?
This investment is developing more profitable pear orchards that have higher labour use efficiency, produce stable yields of high-quality fruit, use state-of-the-art technology to manage spatial and temporal variation, and collect objective eco-credential data to support low environmental impact production systems.
The research team will:
- Investigate profitable crop load management strategies and technologies for pear production within the Australian environment.
- Develop and test profitable spatial and temporal management strategies that maximise quality for pear consumers, focusing on colour.
- Provide data on the eco credentials of the pear industry production systems.
- Increase labour use efficiency in Australian pear orchards.
The project will address issues and develop management strategies in pear production associated with temporal and spatial variation in crop load and fruit quality (size and colour), labour use efficiency and eco credential data.
The project will expand on the crop thinning and skin colour results from AP19005, incorporate economic analysis into crop regulation, and initiate new research on the physiological mechanisms for triggering or inhibiting floral initiation.
Experiments will be undertaken to evaluate strategies to thin fruit and flowers and improve return bloom so that growers are better able to target optimal crop loads and stabilise yields. Management options for thinning (e.g., chemical thinners, Darwin flower thinner, artificial spur extinction (ASE)) and colour development and sunburn prevention (e.g., timing of reflective mulch and leaf blowing, netting type) will be a focus including spatial zonal management and the associated financial benefits and costs.
The pear industries’ access to export markets will be supported by provision of eco- credential data related to efficient water management. Simple monitoring tools and benchmarks on irrigation efficiencies will provide valuable eco-credential data.
Monash Universities robotic harvesting arm (attached to Ag Vic’s harvesting platform) and, if possible, Ripe Robotics’ harvester will be tested in the experimental pear orchard at the Tatura SmartFarm.
An economic model will be used to determine the working requirements of robotic harvesting compared to hand harvesting (± picking platform) in pears incorporating a sensitivity analysis on labour availability.
This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Apple and Pear Fund