FARMVIEW Episode 3.2 transcript
Episode 3.2 - Netting to reduce damage
Sylvain Bourat & Geoff Karl
Geoffrey Thompson Orchards
The primary reason for us to put the hail net up was to prevent hail and secure the business, but the benefits that have flowed on since they have been the drastic reduction in sunburn and also a 30% saving on water.
It cut your UV rate down which put less stress on your trees as well and makes your trees happy, so your fruit is more happy as well.
Unless you get really heavy hail that basso net is pretty much foolproof. Not only in hail, but just a general storm, like I mean we get wind protection and on days like this where there is only a breeze inside here, you would not even think about spraying outside, but underneath here it is calm and you can still keep your work going, so it enables your workforce to be better utilized. Water savings, we are achieving somewhere around 30%. Generally on most of our orchards we use between say 4-4,5 mega litres per hectare, although slightly less on here and when water was at $1,000/ml every mega litre you save was quite important.
And you get better growth on your trees and better grass cover as well, which stops your evaporation a lot more, like you look at the rows outside the net and on dry years the grass will be all brown and dry and you look inside the net, it is nice and green and lush, which means it has moisture in the ground.
We have found because we have weather stations based inside and outside, when it gets cool, it is usually 1-2 degrees warmer inside. When it gets hot we are 3-4 degrees cooler. We went through a year where we got really bad hail on another orchard and it really put the whole business under a lot of stress, because we had no apples for sale, we had no apples for the trucks, no apples for the pack house. At the moment we have got about 80 people working on this orchard, their jobs would be in jeopardy, the truck driver's jobs would be in jeopardy, the pack house jobs are in jeopardy and the biggest thing is that you loose your foot in the door of the supermarket, because you are then known as a insecure supplier. So if you can secure your supply in to the supermarket that is a really big plus from a business prospective.
Before the net we had sunburn and windburn and you are looking, like we are picking now, you look inside the bin and the fruit is spotless. No marks, no rubs, no nothing, so it is improving quite dramatically I would say.
The only negative that we have really come up against is the justifying the financial side of things. We used to spray on sun protectant, but like I say you only get a certain result with that. We have just lifted our marketable yield quite significantly since we have had the hail net and the marketable yield is where we make our money. Our marketable yield underneath here generally is 10-15% higher than farm outside the net. Well we have basically found that the increase in pack out that we get, the security of the business, which is the biggest thing that we are after, the security of business, more than covers the holding cost of what it cost you to finance it on a yearly basis.
If you want to know more about this programme, contact your industry grower association or the DEPI customer service line - 136 186.