Demonstrating Next-Generation Resilient Orchard Production Systems for Tropical Crops

Industry
Horticulture
Reference number
A.2.2021052
CRCNA funding
$982,983
Total project value
$2,794,641
Project length
3 years
Finish date
Project Status
Current
Project Manager
Kristin Nunn

Participants

  • Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland (DAF)
  • Northern Territory of Australia - Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade (DITT)
  • Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia (DPIRD)
  • Manbulloo Limited
  • Aus-Ex Fruit
  • Northern Territory Farmers Association Incorporated (NTFA)
  • Growcom

Summary

Diversification of crop production in Northern Australia is crucial in developing an economically sustainable and resilient agricultural sector. Whilst there are numerous tropical tree crops which can be cultivated in the region, plantings are limited due to the susceptibility of orchards to tropical cyclones.

Jackfruit will be used as a model tree crop for the project for this project, with high-density orchards developed at multiple trial sites across Northern Australia. Each trial site will use a site-specific planting density and a mixture of seedlings, grafted trees, cuttings and marcotts planted under both free standing and supported (trellis) arrangements.

Data on growth rates, fertiliser and irrigation inputs, pest and disease issues canopy development, flowering and harvest dates, yield and fruit aril (flesh) recovery will be collected. Various economic assessments and guidance materials will be developed to aid growers to adopt the “Next Gen Orchard” system.

Expected outcomes

This project will investigate the use of both high-density and trellis planting systems to examine their production capacity, profitability and resilience to cyclones. These strategies could provide growers with a production methodology which mitigates the risks associated with tropical cyclones, enabling expansion of the horticultural sector through new plantings across Northern Australia.

Additionally, the project provides a mechanism for the long-term diversification of the north Australian agricultural sector through the planting and production of alternative horticultural crops. Whilst specific to jackfruit, the production system can be applied to a broad range of tree crops, most of which are unique to north Australia. This will be demonstrated at Aus-Ex Fruit where rambutan will be established using the Next Gen Orchard system and at DAF-CWTA where an existing replicated trellised cocoa trial will be maintained as part of the project.