Next-Generation Fruit Research to Focus on Precision Agriculture

Next-Generation Fruit Research to Focus on Precision Agriculture

New and ongoing tree-fruit research in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences received a boost with the recent awarding of funds totaling more than $261,000 by the State Horticultural Association of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Apple Program.

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According to Bruce Hollabaugh and Tad Kuntz, chairs of the horticultural association research and Extension committees, the funding supports 19 research projects and six Extension projects, all aimed at helping regional tree fruit producers improve production efficiency and fruit quality.

The funded projects with principal investigator and amounts include:

— Utilizing the samurai wasp as a potential control tool against brown marmorated stink bug, Greg Krawczyk, Extension Tree Fruit Entomologist and Research Professor of Entomology, $9,954 (funding for year two of two) and utilization of insecticide-treated nets as an alternative method to monitor and manage brown marmorated stink bug, $28,777 (funding for year two of two).

— Branch and fruit accessibility for mechanical operations with various tree canopies, Long He, Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, $11,744 (funding for year one of two) and a sensor-based irrigation test system for apple orchards, $13,244, (funding for year two of two).

— Optimizing fire blight control alternatives: Non-antibiotic blossom protection and full season shoot blight management, Kari Peter, Assistant Professor of Tree Fruit Pathology, $12,344 (funding for year one of one) and investigating and understanding different sources for fruit rot fungi in the packhouse and field to better control postharvest decay of stored apple fruit, $16,500 (funding for year one of one).

— Buy-and-fly orchard management using unmanned aircraft (UA), Rob Crassweller, Professor of Horticulture, $16,000 (funding for year three of three).

— Evaluation of effective canopy depths of apple trees for optimal machine-sensing performance, Daeun Choi, Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, $12,885 (funding for year two of two).

— Development of a high density, highly mechanized, pedestrian-production system, James Schupp, Professor of Pomology, $10,691 (funding for year two of seven).

— Combating Listeria monocytogenes growth in tree-fruit packinghouse biofilms, Jasna Kovac, Assistant Professor of Food Science, $16,486 (funding for year one of one).

— Monitoring and utilizing fruit maturity to improve harvest and storage decisions of new apple cultivars and reduce storage disorders of ‘Honeycrisp,’ Chris Walsh, Pomologist, University of Maryland, and Tara Baugher, Penn State Extension Tree Fruit Educator, $7,343.80 (funding for year two of two).

— Affordable on-farm airblast and boom sprayer calibration program, Jon Johnson, Director of Pesticide Education, $5,000 (continuing, year eight).

— Demonstrating and evaluating the cyclone vacuum apple harvester, Daniel Weber, Penn State Extension Tree Fruit Educator, $4,370 (year one).

Download the State of U.S. Precision Agriculture Report