HIGH density mango plantings are producing up to 66 tonnes/hectare of fruit a year - a staggering 3.5 times more than existing low-density plantings.
Project lead Geoff Dickinson, DAF Queensland, said the industry has long been interested in transforming from low-yielding, low-density orchards into high-yielding, high-density orchard systems.
Funded by the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia, the project team - DAF, Manbulloo, Marto's Mangoes and the Australian Mango Industry Association - trialled high-density planting across three sites in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
"To move from 200 to 600, or even 1200 trees per hectare requires us to do the equivalent of what architects do in inner cities - that is maximise the efficient use of space," Dr Dickinson said.
"We are doing that by growing shorter, thinner mango trees and minimising the width of inter-rows for use by narrower tractors and equipment.
"In terms of mangoes, this intensification involves managing trees as slim hedges or by training trees on trellises which sees them get great support, great light and maximum canopy leaf area to produce more fruit.
"Short, narrow trees mean sprayers and harvesters can work more efficiently, reducing pesticide use and opening opportunities for new technologies including robotic harvesting."
Dr Dickinson said the adoption of high-density slim hedge and trellised planting required a higher level of investment during establishment and during the first 10 years than conventional lower density planting systems.
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However, the investment was rapidly recouped by the higher revenues achieved by increased yield per hectare.
Modelling suggests high-density and trellised orchards could reduce the annual fruit production by about 20 per cent.
Australian Mango Industry Association chairman and owner of Marto's Mangoes, Ben Martin, said the project would have great benefits for the Australian mango industry.
"The project team involved has been focused on producing real outcomes for commercial mango businesses," Mr Martin said.
"They have spent time analysing the true cost of production and really looked at how they can maximise potential earning for growers. The trial shows the potential to increase income for growers."
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