FRUIT growers and reps converged on Lenne's Orchard in Ardmona on Monday to discuss research, labour and economics.
The northern leg of the Apal Orchard Walk tours attracted about 32 delegates from apple, pear and stonefruit farms in the Shepparton and Ardmona area.
Automation and mechanisation was a hot topic, along with ways to reduce labour costs.
Orchard specialist Karen Lewis presented on these issues, as well as orchard economics and agricultural health and safety.
She introduced growers to a conveyor harvesting system being used in Washington State, US.
Michael Crisera from Fruit Growers Victoria said this system was not yet used in Australia but farmers were moving towards forms of platform picking.
"This involves using a moving platform on the ground or on the back of a tractor rather than cherry pickers or ladders, which are very time consuming," Mr Crisera said.
"Setting up orchard infrastructure will be a big push in the next few years.
"The Goulburn Valley for example has so many different commodities that platforms would work well there because the ground is so flat."
The southern orchard walk will be on Monday at Battunga Orchards in Hoddles Creek.
The seminar will kick off at 11.30am with an indoor presentation from Craig Hornblow from Agfirst.
- RSVP to Virginie Gregoire on 0400 795 539.