Bi Zheng Tan
Fruit Growers Tasmania | Monday, 27 May 2019, 4.15pm
Bi Zheng ‘Bi’ is a PhD candidate studying apple tree nutrition at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture. He discovered Tasmania and TIA through his love of cooking, food and people. A chance conversation with a university agent at the end of year 12 introduced Bi to Tasmania as a place renowned for high quality agricultural produce and a university to match. With his sights set on feeding the world, Bi’s studies drew him towards horticulture and apple research.
Bi says the complexity of temperate fruit production and the way trees respond to seasonal changes and the environment is a challenge he relishes. His PhD study explores apple tree nutrition and takes quite a destructive approach to finding the answers. Whole trees at Reid Fruits orchard are harvested and excavated to understand the detail of where nutrients are stored and how they are remobilised in spring.
Bi’s next venture takes him to Washington State University for a month-long collaboration with Professor Lee Kalcsits to determine how apple calcium uptake is affected by nitrogen and potassium fertigation and its influence on fruit quality. Bi will use the synchrotron facility in Canada to obtain a complete picture of cell structure and cell wall strength in apple fruit following fertigation treatments.