In Far North Queensland, kids and grown-ups alike are out gathering mangoes. Mango growing is a multi-million-dollar industry, with growers across northern Australia competing to put their fruit into those lucrative southern capital city markets. There is keen industry interest in a test last week of a device to measure how well watered a mango tree is. The device was put through its paces at the Walkamin Research Station, on the Atherton Tablelands.
A team of scientists and researchers is trying to see if optical dendrometers can accurately measure moisture in a tree, something that’s proved difficult using other methods. Tim Brodribb, from the University of Tasmania School of Natural Sciences, said it’s a promising new approach that could help growers make best use of their water.
Brodribb: “We’ve been developing a new kind of optical-based sensor that provides a new approach for capturing the shrinkage and swelling associated with water uptake and loss. Monitoring water use in the crop itself represents a significant improvement in irrigation management over traditional techniques that monitor water in the soil, in the environment, or only on the growing parts of the plant.”
The project is a collaboration between the Tropical North Queensland Drought Hub, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and the University of Tasmania.
It’s hoped testing of the optical dendrometer at the Walkamin Research Centre will prove its suitability for commercial operations in tropical conditions.