Uncategorized Press Release Research

The trees are talking!

How new ‘listening’ technologies could help British growers produce even better apples

AI technologies could be coming to an orchard near you. Things are high tech now in some UK apple and pear orchards. The latest ideas involve ‘listening’ to the trees to find out exactly when they are starting to feel thirsty. 

British apple supplier and BAPL member, Adrian Scripps, has joined a trial to evaluate a new ‘listening’ technology. The sensors on the trees detect biosignals that give growers an early alert to potential stresses – like needing a drink!

The sensors are small, with two wires that go into the tree, usually into a branch. They detect micro-electric biosignals inside the tree and trigger irrigation the moment the tree needs it. The grower no longer has to guess, or wait for the tree to show signs of ‘thirst’ – such as leaves dropping or going yellow. 

The fact is that by the time the tree is showing visible signs of stress, the damage may have been done. So it’s better to be able to provide some water before that happens. 

We’re also very mindful of the need to conserve water as much as we can. And this technology can help growers do just that. While we might have the perfect maritime climate for growing delicious apples in the UK, rain is not always in plentiful supply. Water sustainability is very important. 

Ultimately this technology can also help growers conserve water and be more sustainable. Without this insight, growers might have to water the trees when they ‘think’ they might be thirsty and that could be a waste.

We’ll bring you updates as this trial progresses. In the meantime, you can read more in this Fruitnet article.