93663 - Precision Orchard Management

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Precise and Sustainable Agriculture (cod. 5705)

Learning outcomes

At course completion, the student possesses knowledge on: precise and sustainable cultivation techniques for orchard management; Implementation and adoption of SMART technological tools, including artificial intelligence, for the management of orchard cultivation techniques; management models for nutrition, irrigation, fruit load, and product quality. In particular, the student possesses the skills to: organize cultivation strategies for fruit species based on sensors, models, and artificial intelligence implementations; measure and evaluate the production performance of the orchard in real time during growth season; recognize and correct anomalies in production performance related to plant-climate-soil interaction.

Course contents

a) Prerequisites

A precision orchard management specialist needs to be able to combine basic knowledge coming from the field with the capacity to identify and manage the most suitable and sustainable fruit production techniques and methods to solve the day-by-day field issues.

Students taking this class must possess strong bases in arboriculture, agrometeorology, chemistry, biochemistry soil chemistry and biology to properly understand the subjects addressed in the course, which relate to all the aspects concerning precision orchard management techniques. Students must also possess knowledge in physics, computer and electronics in agriculture to understand the tools and sensor principles and implementation. .

b) Teaching units

The course is made up of 3 main teaching units:


  • Tree water relations and their interaction with soil and the environment;
  • Tree light relations: physical properties of light and the effects of growing practices on tree-light interactions;
  • Tree gas exchanges: photosynthetic/transpiration parameters; environmental and soil effects on tree photosynthesis and productivity;
  • Tree structure and orchard designs
  • Fruit growth: effects of management practices and environment on fruit growth; fruit growth models and measurement methods; Case studies fruit growth of different species

Techniques, models and sensors to monitor the orchard/tree status (20 Hours)

  • Traditional and innovative tools/sensors to measure crop/environmental/soil variables;
  • Analytical approaches;
  • Artificial intelligence approaches and models;
  • Data processing and how to integrate derived information into farm management information and decision support systems;
  • Technical issues of the smart approaches

Case studies (18 Hours)

  • Field experiments and case studies with the aim of gaining first-hand experience on current precision orchard management technologies, and to discuss various real life scenarios and solutions.


Lecture notes, handouts and articles provided by the instructor through internet services managed by UNIBO.

Selected chapters from the books: “Robotics and Automation for Improving Agriculture” by John Billingsley, Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing; “Achieving sustainable cultivation of temperate zone tree fruits and berries Volume 2” by Greg Lang, Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing; “Automation in Tree Fruit Production: Principles and Practice” by Quin Zhang, Cab Intl.

Teaching methods

Classroom lectures, discussion sessions, assignments and field activity.

Assessment methods

The evaluation of the course considers the knowledge level acquired by the student, in relation to all the materials covered. The goal of the evaluation is to assess the overall capacity of the student to recognize and address problems in the area of precision orchard management and to devise solutions to these problems.

Teaching tools

Classroom lectures are provided with the aid of visuals. Practical examples will be offered in the classroom and in the field. Exercises will be carried out in the computer room.

Office hours

See the website of Luigi Manfrini