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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Integrated Orchard Management and Automation for Deciduous Tree Fruit Crops

Location: Appalachian Fruit Research Laboratory: Innovative Fruit Production, Improvement and Protection

Project Number: 1931-21000-024-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Dec 15, 2013
End Date: Dec 14, 2018

Objective:
1: Improve understanding of deciduous tree fruit stress responses and develop cultural strategies and technologies to ameliorate abiotic stress with different tree architectures and rootstock-scion combinations. 1.A. Develop and test novel genetic sources and tree architectures for increased water use efficiency. 1.B. Characterize key biochemical and physiological processes regulating fruit tree architecture and genetic-environmental interactions. 1.C. Develop cultural management practices that include rootstock and shoot architectures that are stress tolerant and improve production efficiency in high density plantings. 1.D. Develop rudimentary apple orchard carbon budget. 2: Develop new devices/technology for dectection and control of invasive and native insects in fruit crops including, but not limited to, brown marmorated stink bug, spotted wing drosophila, and the native plum curculio. 2.A. Identify and utilize attractive behavioral cues, including olfactory and visual stimuli, to develop sensitive monitoring tools and behaviorally-based control strategies within the production system that reduce insecticide inputs to increase profitability and sustainability. 2.B. Develop monitoring and management tools for the invasive brown marmorated stink bug, spotted wing drosophila, and the native plum curculio using the knowledge developed in Sub-objective 2.A. 3: Develop and apply computer vision for mechanization of orchard practices including, but not limited to, pruning. 3.A. Refine computer vision system for three-dimensional shape modeling of trees, including different tree growth habits. 3.B. Integrate computer vision system and robotics for pruning.

Approach:
This project proposes the development and integration of entomological, horticultural, and engineering technology to solve major problems affecting temperate tree fruit production, the sustainability and environmental impact of tree fruit production, and consumer acceptance of tree fruits. Novel arthropod management techniques will be developed through identification of olfactory or visual cues in order to implement insect behavioral manipulation strategies that will improve monitoring and control of key insect pests. Improved light and water management will be developed through training systems that include different tree growth habits that are amenable to orchard automation and through improved understanding of hormones, rootstocks, and growth habit to optimize carbon partitioning, tree development, and water use efficiency. Future mechanization of orchard operations will be facilitated by newly developed tree management systems to improve light penetration in novel tree growth habits and by algorithms for the visualization of tree branches. The technologies and knowledge developed within this project are components of management systems that integrate behaviorally-based monitoring and management of arthropods, optimal tree architecture, and orchard automation that result in the production of high quality fruit with stable annual yields. The broad base of expertise in the research program will develop and integrate the most appropriate technologies to solve the key problems of tree fruit production. Productive and sustainable tree fruit production systems will benefit both consumers and global competitiveness of U.S. growers.

Last Modified: 8/22/2014
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