Up to $560,425 has been pledged by the federal government for Institut de recherche et de développement en agroenvironnement Inc. (IRDA) to develop a new, integrated system of precision fruit tree farming at Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Québec.
IRDA will be using the funds to pilot and test a system that uses exclusion netting, narrow fruiting walls and mechanized operations.
Adoption of these labour-saving technology and practices as well as improved crop protection methods will help the sector continue to produce high-quality apples while moving toward pesticide-free growing. The project will also help the sector cope with the impacts of extreme weather brought on by climate change and reduce or eliminate the use of most pesticides used in fruit growing.
By integrating a suite of advanced fruit tree technologies and techniques into one system, IRDA's innovative approach would be a first of its kind in North America.
"Apples are Canada's second most significant crop in terms of value. In the same project, Institut de recherche et de développement en agroenvironnement is exploring solutions to two major industry issues: labour shortages and pesticide use. The precision agriculture methods being tested could save producers money and make them more resilient to climate change,” says Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of agriculture and agri-food.
"Through this funding, IRDA and its partners have developed the Orchard of the Future project, where precision agriculture and mechanization will help address the need for healthy and sustainable agriculture. This important project, in partnership with apple growers in Québec, Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, confirms IRDA's leadership role in the field of agri-environment,” says Alain Vachon, president and CEO, Institut de recherche et de développement en agroenvironnement Inc.
The project will take place in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Québec at the experimental orchard at Parc National du Mont-Saint-Bruno. At this experimental orchard, IRDA conducts research and development and the transfer of sustainable and environmental solutions in the area of apple farming. This includes insect monitoring, biological pest control, orchard layout, as well as rationalizing the use of and reducing the potential impacts of pesticides.
Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada May 19, 2022 news release
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