Improved Australian apple and pear orchards soil health and plant nutrition

Project details

Status: Current

At a glance

  • Healthy soils play a critical role in the productivity of orchards.
  • The project will help growers operate more sustainable production systems that proactively integrates management of pests and disease and soil.
  • A user-friendly web application will be developed to help growers make informed management decisions.

Keeping growers at the leading-edge

This $800,000 research project will help Australian apple and pear growers stay at the leading-edge by better understanding the connection between healthy soils and productive orchards.

The project is part of the apple and pear industry’s Productivity, Irrigation, Pests and Soils (PIPS3) program.

The project is led by TIA Research Fellow, Dr Nigel Swarts, who is well-known by industry for his previous research aimed at enhancing the productivity, profitability, and sustainability of orchards.

Role of healthy soil in orchards

Healthy soils play a critical role in the productivity of orchards through enhanced nutrient availability and resilience to climate variability. Through this project we are aiming to develop the knowledge to help optimise soil health even further.

The desired outcome is an apple and pear orchard production system that maximises quality and yield with high nutrient use efficiency under increasingly variable climates.

User-friendly app

Findings from this research will be included in a user-friendly web application that will help growers make informed management decisions.

Australian apple and pear growers are committed to environmentally sound and sustainable production practices that meet consumer demands and inspire public confidence – this research aims to further support this goal.

Value of Tassie apple and pear sector

Tasmania’s apple and pear sector makes an important contribution to the state’s economy and in 2017-18 had a gross farmgate value of $46 million[1].

As one of Australia’s key growing regions for apples and pears, a commercial orchard in the Huon Valley will host a trial site for this project.

PIPS3 program

The PIPS3 program is a standout research model as it integrates four collaborative research projects across the whole orchard system. TIA scientists are collaborating on the following projects:

  • Developing smarter and sustainable pear orchards to maximise fruit quality, yield and labour efficiency (TIA Senior Research Fellow, Dr Sally Bound)
  • Strengthening cultural and biological management of pests and diseases in apple and pear orchards (TIA Entomologist, Dr Stephen Quarrell)

The project is funded by Hort Innovation using the apple and pear industry levy funds from growers and matching funds from the Australian Government. TIA is a joint venture between the Tasmanian Government and the University of Tasmania.


For more information contact:

Dr Nigel Swarts