NEW apple and pear orchard technology, plus biological control methods will be the points of focus in the latest Apple and Pear industry Productivity, Irrigation, Pests and Soils (PIPS3) program.
This is the third program of its kind, which will cover apple and pear orchards across the country and look at new technology and advanced management systems.
It will also take in applying integrated biological management to pests, diseases and soil.
Hort Innovation research and development manager, Adrian Hunt said the program is in initial stages of establishing research activities.
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"It will deliver new research and build on the success of previous PIPS programs and benefit apple and pear growers," Mr Hunt said.
"PIPS3 will execute an integrated program of activities across the whole orchard system."
The program will also boast four sub-projects:
- Advancing sustainable and technology driven apple orchard production systems, Agriculture Victoria.
- Developing smarter and sustainable pear orchards to maximise fruit quality, yield and labour efficiency, Agriculture Victoria.
- Strengthening cultural and biological management of pests and diseases in apple and pear orchards, Agriculture Victoria.
- Improved Australian apple and pear orchards soil health and plant nutrition, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA), a joint venture between the University of Tasmania and the Tasmanian Government.
These will work collaboratively and conduct trials with integrated activities and standardised methods on commercial orchards across key growing regions and at Agriculture Victoria's Tatura SmartFarm.
According to Hort Innovation, the whole-of-system approach will help research teams collaborate on needs identified by the apple and pear industry such as:
- managing orchards in variable climates;
- meeting customer expectations;
- using resource inputs more efficiently;
- fostering greater sustainability through biological solutions.
Apple and Pear Australia chief executive officer, Phil Turnbull, welcomed the investment into the PIPS3 projects.
"Quality research and development helps our industry to keep moving forward and ensures local and overseas consumers continue to trust, enjoy and afford fresh Australian apples and pears," Mr Turnbull said.
"The PIPS3 projects are well aligned to the challenges for our industry and come at a time when consumer trust and expectations, labour challenges and climate-adaptation are well and truly on the radar."
Hort Innovation's Mr Hunt said apples and pears have come a long way since the first PIPS program.
"It's exciting to see the new program get started and build more knowledge for growers," he said.
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