Analysing the Architecture of Almond Trees – Using Lidar

Engineering, IT, Mathematics and Statistics

Project Background

The Australian almond industry is undergoing rapid expansion with extensive new “green field” plantings; it produced to over 42,000 in 2018 and is expected to grow to 50,000 by 2025. Almonds were worth $428 million in 2017/18 and are the highest value fruit/nut crop in Australia.

The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) is the South Australian Government’s principal research organisation. SARDI’s Irrigated Crops group focuses on improving the productivity and resilience of horticultural production systems and sustainable agricultural water management. SARDI has an active almond research program established on the Almond Centre of Excellence experimental and demonstration orchard at Loxton. Included in this program is the evaluation of high density planting systems using both conventional and low vigour rootstocks and the screening of new varieties, which offer high productivity or novel architecture.

Research to be Conducted

As part of a program to select more productive almond cultivars, and move to higher density and more efficient planting systems, SARDI is seeking to develop a system to measure almond tree growth habit. Better knowledge of the number, size and orientation of branches will help match the varieties of trees to the most appropriate production systems and track the impact of management practices. This project will support the collection of LiDAR point clouds, in situ validation measures and the development of analysis pathways so that information on tree morphology can be extracted, interpreted and allocated to the appropriate treatments. The principal goal of this project is to replace laborious and subjective morphology assessments with an automated and objective measurement of these attributes.

Skills Required

If you’re a PhD student and meet some or all the below we want to hear from you. We strongly encourage women, indigenous and disadvantaged candidates to apply:

  • Experience in working with LiDAR data
  • Ability to program using C++ / Python (preferred) or MatLab
  • An ability to transfer research concepts into a usable product

Expected Outcomes

  • A protocol for the collection of LiDAR data that can be analysed for tree architecture.
  • A system that will analyse the LiDAR data and quantify a range of tree attributes.
  • Documentation to support the ongoing use of this system.
  • A research paper detailing the methods and results.
  • Improved understanding of almond tree growth in order to inform breeding and management programs.

Additional Details

The intern will receive $3,000 per month of the internship, usually in the form of stipend payments.

It is expected that the intern will primarily undertake this research project during regular business hours, spending at least 80% of their time on-site with the industry partner.  The intern will be expected to maintain contact with their academic mentor throughout the internship either through face-to-face or phone meetings as appropriate.

The intern and their academic mentor will have the opportunity to negotiate the project’s scope, milestones and timeline during the project planning stage.

Adelaide, SA
3-5 months
APR – 1316



Suggested Internships


East Melbourne, VIC
Physiological Measures of Hearing Perception Using Function Near-Infrared Spectroscopy

VOCONIQ (APR – 1346)

Brisbane, QLD (Will consider internship being completed at student's university)
National Surveys on Nuclear


Sydney, NSW
Economics of Preventative Dental Provision in Australia