Research undertaken by the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) is showing that manipulating nitrogen and water application rates and timing through precision fertigation can increase fruit quality.
TIA's Dr Dugald Close delivered the good news to orchardists at the Apple and Pear Australia's (APAL) Future Orchards walk at Lucaston this week.
He described how varying the timing and rate of both nitrogen and irrigation through fertigation prior to harvest is positively impacting on fruit quality and fruit size.
"The effect of post-harvest fertigation on orchard productivity is also being assessed as we speak with the apple harvest well underway," Dr Close said.
"This study also looks at the movement of nutrients and water through the soil, whether they stay within reach of trees roots or are being wasted through leaching."
Instruments called fluxmeters act like rain gauges in the soil and were used to capture and measure water and nutrients that leached below the rootzone of trees.
A pat on the back for Andrew Grigg's Lucaston Park orchard management where irrigation supply and tree water use closely matched.
Dr Close described that whilst this was the case at Lucaston, a more challenging site at Mountain River with a greater slope and lighter soil type had measurable losses of water and nutrients beyond the tree root zone.
Read more about the Productivity Irrigation Pests and Soils (PIPS) project funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia.
Authorised by the Head of School, Land & Food
8 November, 2013