Almond Centre of Excellence
The Almond Centre of Excellence experimental orchard is a 60-hectare site purchased by the South Australian Government in 2016 and leased by Almond Board of Australia to develop with funding support from the Australian and South Australian Governments. Based 5 kilometres from the Loxton Research Centre, where the ABA’s head office is located, the orchard will provide a home for the almond industry’s research and development program. The experimental orchard will trial all aspects of almond growing to deliver input efficiencies and risk mitigation for existing production systems for the 40,000 hectares of conventional orchards currently planted in Australia. It will also have trials aimed at developing new production systems in terms of varieties, rootstocks, spacings, tree architecture and harvesting methods to increase nut yields and quality from smaller more manageable trees.
On completion of planting in 2018, the majority of the orchard will be planted with trials being conducted by the University of Adelaide’s breeding program, the South Australian Research and Development Institute’s soil amelioration, tree density and rootstock research, and Plant and Food Research Australia’s tree architecture work. The ABA will be planting a rootstock evaluation trial and will also investigate irrigation technologies on the orchard. A proposal to trial and demonstrate driverless tractor technology at the site has also been put forward for funding in 2018/19.