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Trellis systems could assist development of robotic harvesting

A navel trellis trial is being conducted at NSW DPI’s Dareton research centre; it is part of the national tree crop intensification in horticulture project. The experiment is comparing different trellising systems to maximize the capture of sunshine.

“We’re comparing parmate, aspellia and cordone trellising systems where we’ll be quantifying the production, canopy development and cost of installation,”  citrus development officer Steven Falivene said. “We hope this work will reduce vigour, increase flowering and increase fruit production.”

As a comparison, Steven said an untrellised section of the NSW DPI site had navel trees planted on a 5 metre spacing. It is constricted and overcrowded with a shaded canopy and narrow tractor access.

“Trellising is one strategy to improve light penetration into the canopy that will produce more fruitful wood and hopefully raise yields,” Steven told Trellising will also improve harvest efficiency and safety, as it will enable pickers to use a stable step up platform ladder.

Labour shortages, work health and safety issues and and advances in technology mean robotic harvesting is more viable – trialling the trellis systems will provide insights in to the best systems for robotic harvest in the future.

“Robotic harvesting is already being trialled in citrus but the robots are unable to pick the citrus effectively within the canopy. The trellis structure will enable the robot to pick all the fruit efficiently and effectively.”


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