Getting to the core of apple and pear profitability

Oct. 4, 2023 | 5 Min read
Apple and pear growers are about to take growing profits to the next level – powered by PIPS 4 Profit.

Apple and pear growers are about to take growing profits to the next level – powered by PIPS 4 Profit. 
The latest incarnation of the original 2009 Productivity, Irrigation, Pests and Soils (PIPS) program, it has profitability at the core of everything it does. 
The five-year program’s aim is to accelerate the commercial implementation of best management practices, with the greatest potential for apple and pear growers to reap economic benefits while remaining sustainable. 
Hort Innovation chief executive officer Brett Fifield says P4P highlights the research underway is focused on profitability for growers. 
“It is all in the name,” Mr Fifield says.  
“This program is all about strengthening orchard profitability and ensuring the long-term sustainability of the apple and pear industry. 
“It has built a wealth of knowledge about management systems, soils, nutrients and water, it also integrates pest and disease management, and technology. Now we will fast-track this knowledge and understanding into commercial implementation within the orchard.” 
This fourth PIPS iteration began to lift the productivity and quality of Australian apple and pear production and since 2009 PIPS investments have driven knowledge of irrigation, nutrient, crop load and pest management. 
Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture senior research fellow Nigel Swarts says a profitability lens will be applied to all activities. 
“The new program has a focus on determining what knowledge and technology have the greatest potential for profit and economic benefit to the grower,” Mr Swarts says. 
"We will be building businesses cases on why and how growers can benefit from transitioning towards certain management approaches,” he added. 
The program includes an extensive network of farm trials and demonstration sites on growers’ properties. 
Participating apple and pear grower Scott Price from Tasmania says the program has already shown value and his enterprise is excited about future possibilities. 
“I am pleased to see such a focus on implementing research on-farm to improve our bottom line and ensure our businesses are viable long-term,” Mr Price says. 
Delivered through five sub-projects, the key research areas of the PIPS 4 Profit program are: 
Optimising apple and pear production systems by investigating profitable crop load management strategies that maximise quality, providing data on sustainability credentials and increasing labour use efficiency. 
Managing pest and diseases through combining knowledge on of entomology, plant pathology, genetics, ecology, technology, extension, and risk management. 
Building sustainable soils by developing new knowledge linking orchard management practice with soil health and evaluate the economic impact of potential changes to orchard soil management on overall orchard profitability. 
Delivered through Hort Innovation, the program is a collaborative effort led by TIA and Agriculture Victoria, in partnership with the Department Primary Industries and Rural Development (WA) and NSW Department of Primary Industries.

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