Sustainable apple orchard nutrition

Physiology of nutrient uptake/recycling and tree water use in sustainable apple orchard systems

Degree type


Closing date

1 February 2024



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International


$32,192pa for 3.5 years

About the research project

This project is part of the recently funded 5 year Hort Innovation PIPS4Profit project 'Building Sustainable Soils in the apple industry'.

The project in one of four recently funded projects and the successful candidate will work with research staff in Tasmania and across apple growing regions in Australia to undertake applied research on various aspects of tree crop physiology. The candidate will be part of a large team and will be expected to undertake field and laboratory based research.

The candidate will investigate plant availability of N & P under sustainable orchard floor management practices. The candidate will quantity and determine the timing for when these nutrients become plant available over the season in comparison to standard fertigation practices. There will be a strong focus on the subsequent impact on fruit quality.

The candidate will explore relationships between orchard floor management and tree water use . Techniques include carbon isotope discrimination of fruit & leaf tissue used to give an integrated measure of water availability. The candidate will investigate how cover crops and compost addition influence tree water availability over time due to increased soil carbon/organic matter and benefits to soil structure and water infiltration/retention.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Nigel Swarts


The successful applicant will receive a scholarship which provides:

  • a living allowance stipend co-funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia of $32,192 per annum (2024 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.

Additional funding

If successful, applicants will also receive a top-up scholarship of $5,000 per annum for 3.5 years. This scholarship is funded from Hort Innovation.

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.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

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 horticulture sector is desireable

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 February 2024.

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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