Speed Updating is a program run each year by APAL to capture and present the R,D&E activities of the apple and pear industry. This year APAL are running Speed Updating as part of the Fruit Growers Tasmania Conference which will be held at the Tailrace Centre Riverside in Launceston on Thursday 25 May 2017.
Interested participants will need to wait for the Fruit Growers Tasmania full announcement of their conference which will in the later days focus on other crop types such as cherries and berries.
Speakers confirmed for the apple and pear program include:
- Keynote Speaker: Dan Steere – Co-founder and CEO, Abundant Robotics
- Dr Heidi Parkes – Research Horticulturalist, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
- Dr Ian Goodwin – Agriculture Research Branch, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
- Dr Sigfredo Fuetes – Plant Physiology, The University of Tasmania
- Dr Paul Horne – Entomologist, IPM Technologies
- David Williams – Principal Research Scientist, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
- Dr Romina Rader – Community Ecology, University of New England
- Ross Wilson – Horticulture Consultant, AgFirst
- Dr Dario Steffanelli – Research Scientist, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
- Dr Dallas Gibb – Founder, TechMAC
- Dr Sally Bound – Senior Research Fellow, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
- Dr Nigel Swarts – Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Applied Tree Physiology, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
- Dr Bob Farquharson – Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, The University of Melbourne
- Dr Virginia Williamson – School of Ecosystems and Forest Science, The University of Melbourne
- Elizabeth Frankish – PhD candidate, The University of Tasmania
- Mark Spees, Relationship Manager for the apple and pear industry at Horticulture Innovation Australia (Hort Innovation)
- Dr Zhe Xu – Australian Centre for Field Robotics, The University of Sydney
Keynote Speaker – Dan Steere, Co-founder and CEO, Abundant Robotics
APAL are pleased to announce this year’s keynote speaker for Speed Updating is Dan Steere from Abundant Robotics. Dan is CEO and Co-founder of the robotics and automation startup
Abundant Robotics where he leads a group of robotic hardware and software engineers who have successfully developed a robotic apple harvester for use in commercial apple orchards.
Most of Dan’s team came from the Robotics Division of SRI International, a research lab in California, where they began researching automated apple picking in 2013. By the end of 2015 Abundant decided that their research was ready to move into commercialisation mode. Since then the company has been testing and improving several prototypes on a range of orchards and orchard systems throughout the world including right here in Australia.
Each prototype has improved on prior performance and incorporated increasing complexity. They now have a machine that can go into an orchard, will recognise the apple to be picked, and then picks the apple without damaging the tree or the fruit.
For growers looking at this as Dan will explain the key factor for success will be fruit accessibility. Essentially growers will need to begin training and pruning their canopies in a way that will ensure there are no or minimal obstacles such as branches or wires between the robot and fruit.
Ultimately what Abundant are seeking to do is to provide growers with a product at a significantly lower cost than a picking crew with a quality they are happy with.
To find out more you can meet Dan at APAL’s Speed Updating in Launceston on 25 May 2017.
Dr Heidi Parkes, Research Horticulturalist, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Heidi joined the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) apple physiology research team in 2011 before being appointed as research horticulturist in 2013. Heidi has undertaken research in a range of tree physiology, planting systems, variety evaluation and climate change projects for the apple industry and her current role includes project leader for AP12029 “Understanding apple and pear production systems in a changing climate”.
Prior to joining DAF, Heidi received a PhD from the University of NSW and a Master of Agricultural Studies from the University of Queensland. She developed strong communication skills with growers and industry whilst working with the Stanthorpe-based consulting company Orchard Services. These skills have been further extended during her current work in the extension component of the climate change project. Heidi’s skills are in undertaking research to better understand apple tree physiology, and in communicating research results to growers. Heidi is passionate about the value of fundamental and applied research in supporting and driving advancement in horticulture industries.
Dr Ian Goodwin, Agriculture Research Branch, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
Dr Ian Goodwin is the Research Manager of Horticulture Production Sciences in DEDJTR. Ian has 30 years’ experience in horticulture R&D. Career highlights have been to research and develop regulated deficit irrigation and investigate simple approaches to estimate crop water requirements in wine grapes and fruit trees. His current research includes understanding the effects of climate extremes on fruit production, improving resource use efficiency in orchards and investigating innovative production systems to maximise quality of new red-blushed pears. Ian’s additional role in DEDJTR is to manage horticulture research groups at Mildura, Bundoora and Macleod that work on viticulture and wine quality, post-harvest physiology of fruit crops, protected cropping and organic chemistry.
Dr Sigfredo Fuetes, Plant Physiology (Remote sensing, Climate change, Robotics applied to agriculture, Computer programming), The University of Melbourne
Dr Fuentes received his undergraduate degrees from The University of Talca in Chile in 1999 and his PhD from the University of Western Sydney in 2006. He later did two Postdoctoral Fellowships at The University of Technology in Sydney (Climate Change, elevated CO2 experiments) and The University of Adelaide (Climate Change, Viticulture) He was appointed as Lecturer in Viticulture at The University of Adelaide in September 2008 until August 2012. He was appointed as Lecturer in Wine Science and Coordinator of the Master of Wine Technology and Viticulture at The University of Melbourne in August 2012. His main research and teaching interest confer to the use of state of the art of instrumentation for plant physiology research, such as short range, airborne and satellite remote sensing. Near Infrared Spectroscopy, Infrared Thermography, Sap Flow Sensors. Recent research interests are in the area of computer programs developed for agricultural research and practical applications. Development of new methodologies to assess plant physiology and growth using image analysis and instrumentation. He is the international coordinator for The Vineyard of The Future Initiative, which is a multinational collaboration to establish a fully instrumented vineyard for climate change research.
Dr Paul Horne, Entomologist, IPM Technologies
Paul is an entomologist with over 30 years working in research, development and implementation of IPM to industries. He consults to many industries, offering practical advice on implementing IPM strategies which offer less reliance on pesticides. Part of his work is testing the negative effects pesticide products have on knocking out beneficial species such as insects and mites.
David Williams, Principal Research Scientist – Invertebrate Sciences, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
David Williams is a Principal Research Scientist-Invertebrate Sciences in Agriculture Victoria, a Division of the Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR). With over 40 years of experience in research and extension dedicated to orchard pest management, his work led to the creation of the successful CropWatch pest management advisory service which he ran on behalf of the Department for over 11 years before it was transferred to Fruit Growers Victoria. He led the development of Integrated Fruit Production (IFP) guidelines for the Australian pome fruit industry, identification of the barriers to adoption of IFP, and recommendations dealing with those barriers. His team’s use of chemical ecology approaches to pest management generated improvements in the use of pheromone-based mating disruption of pest moths in orchards and mass trapping of pest beetles. The PIPS IPDM project brought together expertise from Australia and New Zealand and resulted in improved forecasting and modelling of apple and pear scab; better understanding of the complex interactions between crop plants, pests, diseases, beneficial organisms such as pollinators and biological control agents; identified biotypes of woolly apple aphid; and imported, tested and released a parasitoid wasp as a biocontrol agent against codling moth. He currently leads the second phase of the PIPS IPDM project in which Mastrus ridens, the codling moth parasitoid imported in the initial PIPS program, is being released and evaluated in Qld, NSW, Vic, SA, and Tasmania.
Dr Romina Rader, Lecturer in Community Ecology (Plant-Animal Interactions), University of New England
Dr Romina Rader’s research focuses on plant–animal interactions in natural and human-modified landscapes; the impacts of land-use change on biodiversity; how plant and animal functional traits respond to landscape structure, configuration, management and scale; and the provision of ecosystem services by biodiversity.
Ross Wilson, Horticulture Consultant, AgFirst
Ross is a founding member of AgFirst and brings over 20 years horticultural experience to the business. A grower in his own right, Ross has frontline experience with the issues orchardists face, and offers his grower clients a complete consultancy service, including:
- purchase feasibilities
- financial planning and monitoring
- labour recruitment
- training and management
- technical and financial advice
As well as one-on-one grower consultancy, Ross works closely with all levels of the horticultural industry, including central and local government, banks, packhouses and processors, exporters and retailers, insurers and manufacturers.
Grower education is a passion, and Ross regularly leads field days for various projects, ensuring the latest technical advances and good tree management techniques make it into the hands of the growers.
While primarily focused on pome fruit these days, Ross also has a strong background with kiwifruit and summer fruit.
Dr Dario Stefanelli, Research Scientist, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
Dr Dario Stefanelli, an agriculture Research Scientist based at Agribiosciences Bundoora, is a group leader for an Organic Chemistry Group a role which involves the economic and scientific management of the organic chemistry group for the department, comprehensive project development and building and maintaining stakeholders’ relationships, working with horticulture, grains, dairy and meat industries.
Dario is also a Team Leader for plant physiology researching fruit and produce quality, maturity and post-harvest in relationship to stresses
Dr Dallas Gibb, Founder of TechMAC
Dallas is in Intellectual Property law and regularly engaged in the process of IP Management and Protection, trademark applications and management, contracts, confidentiality agreements and memorandums.
In 2008 Dallas started his own company TechMAC – Technology Management and Commercialisation Company. The organisation aims to assist a wide group of people to gain value from their innovations and ideas. He works with a wide range of Industry and State bodies, helping them train their staff and develop their own IP registers so they can track and manage their IP Assets more effectively.
Dallas worked in the Agricultural Research and Development Industry, initially in sales for multinational companies and then as an extension officer in the Cotton Industry. As an extension officer, he was responsible for taking the great research and ideas out into the field to help producers adopt better work practices and farming methods to improve production and yield while lessening the impact on the environment.
Dr Sally Bound, Senior Research Fellow, University of Tasmania
Dr Sally Bound is a Senior Research Fellow with TIA with over 30 years experience in perennial fruit crop research. She has five years experience working with Artificial Spur Extinction (ASE) as a team member of HAL project AP09031 (PIPS Orchard Productivity Program), and is the Australian leader in research in crop regulation of pome fruit, with extensive experience in the use of plant growth regulators and crop manipulation.
Sally also has extensive experience in research on orchard floor management and soil amendments. She has been involved in numerous industry funded projects as either chief investigator or as a member of a national/international team. In addition to her research activities, Sally provides technical information and advice to orchardists and industry groups and has conducted numerous workshops, seminars and training courses throughout Australia.
Dr Nigel Swarts, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Applied Tree Physiology, University of Tasmania
Dr Nigel Swarts is a Research Fellow at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture at the University of Tasmania. He is interested in the field of tree physiology and specifically tree crop nutrition. Nigel leads two collaborative projects on nitrogen management in tree crop production systems, and is currently supervising three PhD students and two honours students.
Nigel has a background in Conservation Biology with research focusing on rare and endangered orchids from across Australia. He has a strong track record in the field of orchid conservation with two highly-cited review articles.
Dr Bob Farquharson, Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, The University of Melbourne
Dr Bob Farquharson is an Agricultural Economist with experience in analysis of agricultural scenarios which may have an economic impact on industries, for example, climate change, drought, new technology or other scenarios in the mix. His work helps measure and understand the important economic impacts and ways to find best solutions for industries facing challenges or implementing change into agricultural systems.
Dr Virginia Williamson, School of Ecosystems and Forest Science, The University of Melbourne
Dr Virginia Williamson is a plant physiologist whose areas of research are water stress plant physiology, particularly xylem dysfunction in relation to cut flowers. What are the physiological responses to cutting (wounding) that lead to impaired water uptake and a resultant shortened vase life? She has a particular interest in Australian native cut flowers, particularly those with export potential.
Virginia’s research has covered the areas of hydraulic conductivity, cavitation, vase solution additives, ethylene production, microbial colonisation of xylem conduits, wounding responses, the formation of tyloses and pectin deposition.
Elizabeth Frankish, PhD Candidate, University of Tasmania
Elizabeth is a food microbiologist with experience in managing laboratories and food safety strategies as well as communication of microbial risk assessments for industries. Elizabeth is now completing a PhD in relation to developing a food safety risk assessment for apples.
Mark Spees, Relationship Manager for the apple and pear industry at Horticulture Innovation Australia (Hort Innovation)
Mark Spees is Hort Innovation’s Relationship Manager for the apple and pear industry. As Relationship Manager, Mark is a key link between growers and developments in the apple and pear industry. He is across the portfolio of research, marketing and trade activities that Hort Innovation currently invests industry levies in; works closely with the apple and pear Strategic Investment Advisory Panel to translate industry needs into project investments and outcomes; and is always available and keen to connect and collaborate with industry levy-payers, whether in person or over the phone.
Outside of the Speed Updating event, Mark can always be reached on 0439 574 173 or at email@example.com