Improved Soil Management – CF10006

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This project is now finalised but we have made all the Reports available for download below. 

The canning fruit industry, and indeed all Australian horticultural industries, needs to increase its productivity to equal world's best and thus compete in the market.

Large potential exists to increase productivity: e.g. the average yield of canning pears is 40 t/ha compared with best overseas yields of 180t/ha and calculated potential of 220t/ha.

The major cause of low productivity is Australia's mediocre soils. Our soils go hard in orchards - this is called coalescence and it severely restricts the growth and function of tree roots. The most productive soils overseas remain loose, soft and porous to depth.

Coalescence restricts the size of the tree root system, but also very much restricts the flow of water from the soil to the root surface. The objective of the proposed project is to develop a new system of orchard soil management that overcomes coalescence.

The Project Team (CSIRO scientists and Cockroft) are confident that the way to achieve super soil status is through the rhizosheath of rye grass roots. Within 'super soils' the soil in the rhizosheath changes to a high level of organic matter and is also very high in microbiological activity, neither of which are possible in normal soils.

This project will help to understand how to achieve these desired properties so that they can implement this knowledge into a workable field system of soil preparation and management. A new system of soil management will be developed from this knowledge. The project would then ensure that the system is set up by a number of fruit growers to test the productivity of the new soil system.