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08-07-2015

Student’s Final Project – Part A – Citruses

2015-07-08_19-46-15At the end of every year the Agrostudies students are required to prepare and submit a final project. The final project is an extensive research prepared over months, in small groups, guided by a professional from Agrostudies.

Gabriel Roseblum, an Agrostudies lecturer and the coordinator for the final projects, accompanies the students from the beginning, as they choose their projects to the end of the year. As this year comes to an end we will introduce a few projects. There are so many, and so many of them are very good this year so it has been very hard to make a choice regarding which projects to publish, however, two of the best projects will be presented at the graduation ceremony that will take place in early September.

We spoke with Gabriel and this is what he said about this year’s students:

“This year the students chose their own final projects. I told them about the most critical subjects of the hour and they took it upon themselves to choose what interested them. This year they discovered things that astonished even experts in the field. They didn’t work on their projects just for the grade but managed to derive real and important knowledge that is important for people in the field. This new information focuses experts in the field on the hot spots of the issue and will help them resolve it in the future. I am very proud of the students this year”.

When writing their projects the students must present the subject, their goals, an hypothesis, their methodology, parameters, time tables and eventually their results and conclusions.

This year, many students chose to research citruses. In fact, papers on this subject were written by several groups who investigated one of the most important issues of the day from different aspects. That is, the problem of ‘cracking’, or ‘splitting’.

This fruit’s shell cracks in two, like a balloon effect. This happens when the oranges receive too much water, and the outer shell cannot withstand the pressure and explodes.

2015-07-08_19-46-35This phenomenon has resulted in extensive losses in several strands of citrus and a number of groups chose to study this complex issue from several directions and in fact, took it upon themselves to try and understand the different causes of ‘cracking’ and how it might be possible to minimize the damages.

One group compared young trees and old trees and discovered that cracking was more prevalent amongst the young trees. Another group investigated the impact sanitation measures have on ‘cracking’. They discovered that fields were fruit was left to rot on the ground, so that it attracts flies and maggots, serving as a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, caused the lower fruit to be infected and the mechanical properties of that fruit was damaged. The conclusion in this case was that sanitation measures were important in the field.

Another group tested to see whether cracked fruit was more prevalent at the bottom of the tree or on the top. They discovered that most of the cracked fruit could be found at the bottom. Their conclusion was that pruning methods should be adjusted so that less fruit is left at the bottom and more grows at the top.

Work on these projects was long and complex and involved, amongst other things, repeated counting of fruit, working with tables, examining the results and reaching conclusions.

These important conclusions can already be implemented and serve as an important jumping board for local citrus farmers.

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