INTEGRATED ORCHARD MANAGEMENT AND AUTOMATION FOR DECIDUOUS TREE FRUIT CROPS
Location: Appalachian Fruit Research Laboratory: Innovative Fruit Production, Improvement and Protection
Project Number: 1931-21000-015-00
Start Date: Dec 15, 2003
End Date: Dec 14, 2008
Develop pest management technologies that reduce the dependence on conventional synthetic pesticides by integrating new biocontrol and alternative and environmentally benign insect control programs into the tree fruit production systems. Develop knowledge and strategies to improve nutrient and water use efficiencies of production systems. Characterize the physiological basis of environmental and genotypic interactions for fruit bud initiation and root plasticity. Develop systems that integrate traditional management of the tree and soil with novel techniques to manage fruit, shoot and root growth and minimize pest damage. Develop automation systems for production and post harvest practices of deciduous tree fruits to improve fruit quality, labor productivity, and reduce costs.
Orchard management practices will be altered to increase biological and bio-based control of pests and ensure sustainable production. Particle film and other developing technologies will be incorporated into production system to reduce the use of synthetic pesticides and mitigate the effects of environmental stresses. Natural products will be evaluated for pest control. Establish an insect rearing facility for natural and beneficial insect predators. Develop means of dispersing beneficial insects. Study insect behavior to develop attract and kill strategies, biological control, and the use of natural environmentally benign substances for integration into an orchard ecosystem. Different green and organic mulches will enhance the habitat for predatory and parasitic arthropods, manage weeds, modify root growth and distribution, and improve nutrient and water use efficiency, and fruit quality. Sod, shading, and reflective ground covers will be used to regulate carbon allocation to fruit bud development. Root distribution and morphology, phytohormone levels, and response to competition will be measured in apple and peach cultivars. Carbon allocation will be modeled in fruit bud and root tissues. Senor and sensor systems will be developed to determine fruit location in a canopy and differentiate fruit quality. Fruit quality is defined as either maturity or defect aspects. Developed sensors will be utilized in automated harvesting and post harvest sorting systems that will lead to consistent and uniform fruit quality and will allow to improve labor productivity and reduce costs.