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New Funding Focused On Improving Fruit Production

Plant & Food Research has received New Zealand Government funding for three new Smart Ideas projects focused on improving fruit production through better flowering and pollination.

How many flowers? led by Simona Nardozza is a three-year project looking at flowering in crop plants. Flowering is essential for fruit production, and climate change is anticipated to drive extreme variability in flower numbers. This project will look at the links between sugar supply in early shoot development and the impact on flower production.

The two-year project Beekeeping outside the box will look at redesigning beehive architecture and handling to improve pollination efficiency. Led by Ashley Mortensen, the project will explore honey bee biology and activity to design colonies that are fit-for-purpose, improving the efficiency of pollination by these colonies over other honey bee activities, such as honey production.

Paul Martinsen will lead the three-year project Sustainable, intelligent fruit production through novel nozzles for autonomous pollination. The project will focus on designing new nozzles that can be incorporated into autonomous robotic systems to replace insect pollinators in the orchard.

Each project will receive $1 million in funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Endeavour Fund. Plant & Food Research scientists will also collaborate on projects led by the University of Canterbury, Cawthron Institute and Nga Uri O Te Ngahere Trust.

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