Horticultural research ranks bolstered
12 February 2018
Agriculture Victoria Research's capacity to support horticultural production science in the Mallee region has been bolstered by the recent appointment of two new research scientists.
Dr Zelmari Coetzee and Dr Belinda Kerridge bring considerable industry knowledge and expertise to the horticulture and plant production research capabilities at Mildura.
Zelmari's plant physiology background will be applied primarily to the region's almonds through a Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA) levied program investigating crop performance.
"The research aims to provide answers to aid almond producers in the management of their orchards to ensure a constant and optimal yield across seasons," she said.
Her current research at Lindsay Point is looking at how almond trees respond to changes in the amount of water and nitrogen fertiliser they receive.
Belinda's background in irrigation and evapotranspiration will help manage the team's temperate nut orchard which will be the stage for a number of long-term experimental platforms.
Funded by RRDP through HIA, the orchard will start with two research trials: the first looking at almond rootstock/scion interactions on nitrogen and water requirements, and the second determining higher density plantings of almonds trees, using some of the newer varieties to the industry.
"I am really looking forward to working in the almond space, as it is an exciting and growing industry and having already worked with avocados, winegrapes and citrus, I can't wait to experience another aspect of the horticulture sector," Dr Kerridge said.
"My recent experience in private industry using irrigation to manage tree and vine performance has provided me with a strong appreciation of the possibilities," she said.
Belinda worked with the CSIRO on quantifying soil water evaporation for improved irrigation management within vineyards.for her PhD through the University of New England (UNE).
For her PhD, Zelmari investigated the possibility of reducing sugar accumulation during ripening (and therefore alcohol content) of wine grape berries.
She conducted her research at the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (Charles Sturt University) in Wagga after earning a full scholarship through the ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production, administered by the University of Adelaide.
Before coming to Australia to study, Zelmari managed several research projects on grapevines at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, during which time she completed a Masters of Agricultural Science in Viticulture.
"As I grew up in the city, and worked and lived in a busy student town in South Africa, I've fallen in love with the tranquil lifestyle of rural Australia. Mildura has a great vibe to it and I love the scenery in and around the town," Dr Coetzee said.
"I'm thrilled to work on a new crop and I hope my research experience and knowledge, combined with the expertise of the team I'm working in, will contribute positively to improving the issues that the Australian almond industry is facing."
Categorised under: Research,Agriculture