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Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture

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Project name Optimising nutrient management for improved productivity and fruit quality in cherries
Funding bodies Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Hort Innovation
Chief Investigators Dr Nigel Swarts, Dr Peter Quin, Nadine Macha
Contributors Cherry Growers Australia Inc

Researchers at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) are looking at the most effective use of nitrogen in cherry orchards around Tasmania, to help producers enhance productivity and improve fruit quality.

This project forms part of the national More Profit from Nitrogen program which aims to improve nitrogen use efficiency across dairy, sugar, cotton and horticulture crops.

Nitrogen uptake and distribution within fruit trees is a dynamic process and the effects of one season’s nitrogen uptake extend through to the next.

As part of this project, the team investigate the seasonal dynamics of nitrogen use by cherry and mango trees to provide a better understanding of when the trees most require nitrogen and in what amount.

They used a nitrogen-based fertiliser which is able to be traced through the plant to determine how the tree partitions applied nitrogen between different tree organs at various times of the year.

From this, we will be able to determine how effective the tree is at using applied nitrogen and how much is transported to the fruit which can then influence fruit quality.

The research team are conducting trials in commercial orchards in southern Tasmania, to examine if different timings of nitrogen fertiliser application influence nitrogen use efficiency, distribution of nitrogen within the tree organs, fruit yield and quality, and nitrogen losses to the environment.

Results from the trials will be used to develop best practice management information which will be available for industry to use.

A significant Tasmanian crop – cherries had an annual gross food value of $64 million in 2015-2016, an increase of more than 100 per cent on the previous year. Tasmanian cherries have a strong reputation as a premium product with a large proportion exported overseas every year.

Want to know more? Watch this video that was produced by Hort Innovation.

Available for download online:

Project team

This project is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program, The University of Tasmania, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture and Hort Innovation. In-kind support is also provided by Cherry Growers Australia Inc