Results of a trial conducted by Australia’s Department of Primary Industries has demonstrated that stonefruit can be produced using up to 30 per cent less water, according to Australian newspaper The Weekly Times.

Water savings of 0.95 megalitres per hectare were achieved, with negligible effects on the size and weight of the fruit.

Tresco, Victoria-based grower Mick Taverna, who conducted the trial on mid-season peaches, said that such savings were significant considering current expectations for another year of low irrigation allocations. He also revealed that timing and accurate soil-moisture readings were crucial.

The trial was set up by DPI horticulture adviser Steven Lorimer following a meeting last September, at which stonefruit growers, faced with the prospect of low water allocations, inquired about water savings from regulated deficit irrigation (RDI).

According to Mr Lorimer, the trial was established to demonstrate the technique to the many growers who were fearful of attempting RDI on their own trees.