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Hort Innovation: Precision summer fruit orchards – research partnership

Opportunity for

  • Researchers, entrepreneurs, startup/scaleup, SME, corporates with expertise in applied research with perennial fruit crop industries and translating agritech into profitable grower practice.

Opportunity description

Industry challenge:

The Australian summerfruit industry is a large temperate fruit industry consisting of peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums. The majority of production is centred in Victoria around the Goulburn Valley and Sunraysia regions. There are an estimated 1,200 commercial growers of summerfruit throughout Australia. The summerfruit industry is undergoing a transition. While it was once heavily reliant on the processing sector, today over 65% of production is sold as fresh fruit. In more recent years, the industry has gradually become more export oriented.

Economic pressures including labour costs are forcing Summerfruit growers to re-evaluate orchard practices. SF17006 identified crop load management is of critical importance for high fruit quality. However, crop load targets are largely determined from broad recommendations and experience. Growers typically use block-scale management practices for setting crop load targets during springtime following winter pruning. Flower (manual, mechanical or chemical) and/or fruitlet (manual or mechanical) thinning is required to set optimal crop loads for high marketable yields (fruit size and quality). Manual fruit counts are commonly taken to assess the effectiveness of such thinning strategies, but these are time consuming, onerous and suffer from small sample size to represent the orchard block. New commercial sensing technologies provide data of canopy, flower and fruit metrics at the tree-scale.

These sensors provide the grower with real-time orchard specific characteristics to improve the determination of crop load targets, orchard thinning operations and packout yield forecasts. Spatial data from such sensing technologies can potentially be automatically used by variable-spraying and -blossom machinery for customised within-block tree-scale management practices.

Current opportunity:

Hort Innovation is seeking experienced and qualified service providers to undertake the project, Precision summerfruit orchards.

The objective of the services is to:

  • Develop profitable summerfruit orchard crop load management strategies and technologies for summerfruit production within the Australian environment
  • Develop and test profitable spatial and temporal management strategies that maximise summerfruit quality for summerfruit consumers.
  • Increase labour use efficiency in Australian summerfruit orchards.

The respondent is to:

  • Compare the accuracy, precision, reliability and utility of commercial precision agriculture sensing platforms and control systems that measure and map fruit attributes and tree canopy size.
  • Determine the efficacy and efficiency of matching variable rate thinning technologies (spray and mechanical) to spatially sensed data compared to current practice.
  • Develop an automated system to determine block-specific crop load, fruit size, tree size relationships from spatially sensed data.
  • Develop guidelines to interpret and act on spatial maps of tree, flower and fruit parameters
  • Test the accuracy of pre-harvest estimates of fruit packout yield using new crop evaluation technoligy
  • Demonstrate the application of precision crop load management for the Summerfruit industry.
  • Document the benefits and costs of collecting and using crop sensor data in Summerfruit orchards.

To find out more about this opportunity or to apply go to "Visit website" or to get in touch with the team go to "Enquire now".

Opportunity type

Research partner

Express interest by

Friday, 29 September 2023 15:00 AEST
Visit website

Opportunity led by

Multiple industries
Alternative protein Cross industry Fruits Nuts Other rural industries Pasture, fodder & feed Vegetables

Hort Innovation

Hort Innovation is the grower-owned, not-for-profit research and development corporation for Australia's horticulture industry. As one of the nation's 15 Rural …

Multiple industries
Alternative protein Cross industry Fruits Nuts Other rural industries Pasture, fodder & feed Vegetables
  • Location


  • Organisation type

    Research funding body

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Opportunity for

  • Machinery manufacturing and distribution companies interested in new products and services
  • Agronomy service companies interested in new products and services
  • Led by

    Hort Innovation

  • Opportunity type

    Licensing, Research partner, Field trial, Seeking partners

  • Readiness
    Mid (TRL 5-7)
    Proof of concept in the laboratory then in the field resulting in the development of a minimum viable product (MVP).

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