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Sample programme: Horticultural focus

High-level question

How can an orchardist produce high volumes of high-quality apples for the early market?

Second-level questions

1. Why are apples grown predominantly in this region?

Introducing the context

Suggested time: 7–10 weeks

Resource requirements: Visit to apple orchard, soils investigations and experiments


  • location: geography, transport, processing facilities, irrigation, and so on
  • topography/distribution pattern (local and national)
  • climate: sunshine hours, annual rainfall, extreme events, annual and daily temperature, and so on
  • soils: properties (texture, structure), modification of properties (through the use of fertilisers, drainage, irrigation).

Possible achievement standards: AS90918, AS90157, AS90919, AS90920.

2. What management practices result in high volumes of high-quality apples?

Developing understanding of aspects of primary production

Suggested time: 12–15 weeks

Resource requirements: Visit to apple orchard, plant growth investigations, and pruning, thinning experiments


  • cultivar selection: specific cultivar attributes (related to market requirements, climate); genetics; reproductive physiology (including propagation techniques, germination, flowering and fruit set)
  • plant growth management: weed control; fertiliser application; soil modification; training (pruning, staking, tying, thinning); irrigation; drainage; spacing, density and orientation of trees
  • plant growth physiology: internal and external plant structures (xylem, phloem, leaves, flowers, primary and secondary growth); plant processes (photosynthesis, respiration, transpiration, nutrient uptake, osmosis, germination)
  • health and disease management: pest and disease control (including internal and external micro-organisms); loss of production; withholding periods
  • environmental management: protection from frost and wind damage (frost pots, shelter provision).

Possible achievement standards: AS90918, AS90157, AS90923, AS90924.

3. What impact does the production of high volumes of high-quality apples have on the environment?

Exploring the environmental impacts of apple growing

Suggested time: 5–7 weeks

Resource requirements: Visit to apple orchard, investigations and experiments


  • water management: packing shed practices; spreading of fertiliser, storage, treatment and recycling; runoff; water quality
  • soil impacts: compaction from machinery; erosion, runoff; orchard soil management programmes (including organic methods)
  • nutrient impacts: fertiliser application rate, frequency, type; nutrient recycling
  • chemical impacts: use of weed control; use of biological control, integrated pest management (ipm)
  • production impacts: burning of prunings; noise (frost protection, bird scarers); smell; increased transport; visual (for example, shelter belts)
  • landscaping considerations: the provision of aesthetically pleasing, ecologically sustainable environment for workers.

Possible achievement standards: AS90160, AS90922, plus aspects of AS90918, AS90157, AS90919, AS90923, AS90924.

4. How will the production of high volumes of high-quality apples impact on returns to the orchardist?

Revisiting concepts covered in the learning programme

Suggested time: 3–5 weeks

Resource requirements: visit to apple orchard, results from investigations and experiments throughout the course


  • production costs: the costs of different management practices for environmental control (frost)
  • labour availability: the need for skilled, reliable labour, the provision of housing, and so on
  • management decisions: suitability of practices used in the production process, based on economic considerations such as those relating to the environment.

Possible achievement standards AS90157, AS90919, AS90920, (also business studies and tourism [ecotourism]).


When planning internal assessments, take into consideration how they fit into the wider school programme, and ensure that students have a balance of internal and external assessment.

Apple diagram.

Apple diagram

Apple diagram (PDF, 61 KB)

Last updated December 5, 2011