Optimising netting in apple orcharding

Optimising netting timing and colour to alleviate climate change and biennial bearing constraints on apple productivity

Degree type


Closing date

1 November 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International


$35,000pa for 3.5 years

About the research project

This PhD project aims to (i) determine the combined effects of different light environments and crop load management strategies on the eco-physiology and productive performance of early-season apple trees, and (ii) derive the most beneficial crop protection strategy via netting to alleviate climate change constraints on sustainable apple crop production in the Goulburn Valley.

This project will utilise a newly established 'Gala' apple orchard at the Tatura SmartFarm in Victoria as the study to:

  • Test retractable netting solutions for narrow row orchards.
  • Compare the suitability of different netting colours and timing of application.
  • Measure light availability and quality under different treatments.
  • Measure environmental variables under the netting systems.
  • Measure the combined effects of crop load management strategies and netting on tree eco-physiology, tree growth, productivity, fruit quality and water use.


Identification of best orchard netting practices for the protection of early-season apples against climate change while maintaining high crop load and fruit quality standards.


Dr Alessio Scalisi (AVR), Dr Ian Goodwin (AVR), Dr Nigel Swarts (TIA)

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Nigel Swarts


The successful applicant will receive a scholarship which provides:

  • a living allowance stipend funded by the Agriculture Victoria of $35,000 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.

Other funding opportunities and fees

For further information regarding other scholarships on offer, and the various fees of undertaking a research degree, please visit our Scholarships and fees on research degrees page.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Ensure your eligibility for the scholarship round by referring to our Key Dates.

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Applicants must already have been awarded a first class Honours degree or hold equivalent qualifications or relevant and substantial research experience in an appropriate sector
  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate strong research and analytical skills

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience in the tree crop horticulture sector is highly desirable

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact Dr Nigel Swarts to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. In your application:
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • Submit a signed supervisory support form, a CV including contact details of 2 referees and your project research proposal.
  4. Apply prior to 1 November 2023.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

Following the closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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