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Research Projects

Irrigation Strategy for Cherries - Central Otago

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Central Otago provides an ideal environment for cherry growing, however rainfall and/or drought conditions can make some growing seasons extremely challenging. Without careful irrigation this can result in reduced export pack-out due to increased incidence of fruit ‘cracking’, alongside poor bud development impacting yield the following season.

The aim of this project is to investigate pre and post harvest irrigation treatments in relation to fruit quality. 

Previous overseas research has found:

  • Pre-harvest maintaining a soil moisture deficit of 20% (80% of field capacity); many growers are currently maintaining soil moisture at field capacity.

  • Post-harvest dropping the soil moisture deficit to the soil stress-point so the tree diverts its energy into bud development (avoiding vegetative growth); some growers are stressing their trees well beyond stress point, in some cases to the point of defoliation.

Results will be available in May or talk to us if you would like to know more. 

Farm Management Practices to Reduce Soil Compaction under Irrigation and Grazing

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To develop management practices that reduce soil compaction under irrigated grazed pasture by identifying appropriate 'wait times’ between irrigation and grazing, and exploring practical options for these to be integrated into day-to-day farm management.


  1. Reduced soil compaction resulting in:

    • Improved soil quality

    • Improved profile available water and irrigation water infiltration

    • Increased pasture production

  2. Engaged farmers that have practical management actions available to help them reduce soil compaction, resulting in reduced fertiliser and irrigation use, improved pasture productivity, and the potential for improved farm profitability.


The project will enable the potential benefits from irrigation to be fully realised by understanding the impact grazing wet soils (following irrigation) has on soil compaction. The longer soil is left to drain, the lower the water content will be at the soils surface, and the lower the risk of compaction from grazing.


The project will:

  1. Identify how long the time interval between irrigation and grazing needs to be, to minimise the soil compaction typically seen under irrigated grazed pasture.

  2. Provide pastoral farmers with practical management solutions to reduce soil compaction under irrigation.

  3. Establish recommended best practice for the management of soils under irrigated grazed pasture.

If you would like to be involved in the project or want to know more talk to the team at Primary Insight. We'll be holding workshops in autumn - keep an eye on our website for details.

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