Key research findings

Drip irrigation was able to meet pear crop water requirement and provide substantial improvement in water use efficiency in young trees. Water savings of approximately 35 % over the first four years after planting were achieved by using drip irrigation compared with microjet irrigation. Drip irrigation did not result in delayed establishment of young pear trees. In fact, drip irrigation increased early yields by 167 %. Pulse irrigation with microjets is not advised for pear trees in their first-leaf because of increased water losses via evapotranspiration, which decreases soil water availability and increases the risk of water stress.  Once trees cropped, pulse irrigation improved fruit size. Combined with a trend for increased fruit number (not statistically significant), the increased fruit size contributed to 23 % greater yield in Pulse than Standard irrigation treatments in the sixth-leaf. Root pruning of young pear trees did not affect tree vigour or increase precocity.

Experimental design

Introduction to irrigation experiment in pear research orchard with Dr Ian Goodwin
Micro-jet Irrigation experiment Microjet Irrigation
Irrigation Experiments
  • This experiment will compare the effectiveness of two different irrigation systems, micro-jet and drip irrigation.
  • In this experiment, there will also be comparison between a multiple day irrigation frequency and a standard interval irrigation for both drip and mico-jet systems.
Root Pruning for Pear trees experiment Root Pruning
Root Pruning Experiments
  • This experiment will look at the effects of root pruning, compared to trees without root pruning, to determine if root pruning stimulates trees to come into fruit production earlier, and determine how much earlier production can be achieved.
Summary results - Irrigation for young pears

Summary of the effects of drip irrigation and irrigation interval in newly planted pear orchards on irrigation requirement, water status, growth and yield.

Key messages:

  • 35% less irrigation was applied in the drip treatments
  • Drip irrigated trees in Year 1 were less stressed
  • Frequently irrigated trees in Years 3 and 4 were less stressed
  • There was no effect of drip irrigation or irrigation interval on young tree growth
  • Yield increased by 167% under drip irrigation attributed to fruit number
  • Spur flower cluster number was higher under drip irrigation
  • Fruit size was greater under frequent irrigation

Summary results - Irrigation for young pears

This project, AP12002 Profitable Pears: Maximising productivity and quality of new pear varieties, is funded by the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources with co-investment from Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited using the apple and pear levy and funds from the Australian Government