Self-irrigating apple trees

Dendrometers measure the change in trunk diameter.

Climate change has made the sparing use of water increasingly important. We are therefore studying the possibility of reducing water consumption in orchards through prudent management. To this end, we use the natural reactions of trees to manage irrigation.

During the day, a tree’s trunk shrinks as a result of water evaporation through its leaves. During the night the tree refills its reservoir, which is noticeable from the expansion of its trunk. In stress situations, the difference between diurnal shrinkage and nocturnal expansion changes. Dendrometers measure the variations in trunk diameter, thus allowing the irrigation requirement to be determined. A radio-controlled valve automatically regulates irrigation.