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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1130: XXIX International Horticultural Congress on Horticulture: Sustaining Lives, Livelihoods and Landscapes (IHC2014): International Symposia on the Physiology of Perennial Fruit Crops and Production Systems and Mechanisation, Precision Horticulture and Robotics

Soil solution nutrient monitoring as a guide to more efficient fertigation in commercial almond production

Authors:   B. Scott, T. Vandenberg
Keywords:   fertiliser, soil
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1130.75
The almond industry in Australia has developed rapidly to become the country's largest horticultural export industry in 2013 and Australia has now become the second largest global producer of almonds, behind the USA. High yielding almond orchards require large nutrient inputs, especially of nitrogen and potassium, with most being applied during a 10-week period of nut development. An intensive fertiliser program is required, with fertiliser inputs supplied via the irrigation system. To maximise the efficient use of fertiliser and water applications, monitoring of soil solution nutrient levels was investigated. During the 2013/2014 growing season, soil solution samplers were installed at a number of sites within the irrigated tree-lines, on commercial almond orchards in north-west Victoria. The sites were selected to represent various soil types within the almond orchards. Three samplers were located at each site at depths of 20, 50 and 90 cm, to enable the monitoring of the soil solution nutrient levels within the tree root-zone and below the root-zone. Soil solution samples were collected every week and analysed for electrical conductivity (EC), nitrate and potassium on site. Monthly samples were also analysed in the laboratory for EC and all nutrient levels. The results of monitoring the soil solution nutrient levels will assist in development of best management practices in regard to fertiliser and irrigation water use in almond orchards.

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