LATEST news from Carrfields
A world-class irrigation system designed and installed by Carrfields Irrigation is helping a Central Otago orchard development and management company achieve efficient irrigation over large tracts of land.
The innovative under-tree micro spray irrigation system, installed at three orchards managed by orchard developer and investor Hortinvest late last year, uses the simple principle of gravity paired with precise technological controls for water delivery. This allows the system to operate with highly efficient use of energy and water.
Carrfields Irrigation worked with Hortinvest to provide bespoke irrigation design for the orchards, which total over 200 hectares in area and are predominantly cherries, planted in 2020.
Two of the orchards are located at Tarras (Lindis Peaks cherry orchard and Ardgour Valley apricot and cherry orchard) with a third cherry orchard at Mt Pisa, near Cromwell. The three orchards currently have 85,000 trees, with substantial expansion plans at Lindis Peaks and Ardgour Valley which will add around 38,000 additional trees.
Brendan Hawes, sales and design manager of Carrfields Irrigation, says that after extensive consultation with Hortinvest, the under-tree micro spray system was selected because of its ability to direct water effectively to the trees’ entire root zones, as well as appropriate frost mitigation benefits suitable for cherry trees.
“We worked closely with Hortinvest to understand their preferences around the type of irrigation that would produce the best results for them. Under-tree micro spray provides effective irrigation to the entire root zone, as opposed to drip irrigation which only provides water to a small central area of roots.”
Under-tree micro spray irrigation also protects against frost by increasing the air temperature within the orchard, while helping to avoid disease which can occur when trees are irrigated from above.
Under the system, every two trees has a pressure regulated micro sprinkler which provides water to the trees’ entire root zone. The overall system ensures each sprinkler operates within its pressure parameters to ensure optimum performance.
There is also provision for nutrients to be applied through the system to allow precise and efficient fertigation.
High resolution drone survey information, provided by Landpro, was used along with the latest irrigation design software to develop the system and adapt it for particular localised conditions, such as the sloping site above Lake Dunstan where the Mt Pisa orchard is located.
The system was then reviewed by the supplier of the equipment, global irrigation system provider Netafim, says Mr Hawes.
“Given the large scale of these projects we wanted to make sure the design and performance was world class, so we worked closely with both the client and the supplier to ensure we achieved a top-performing outcome.”
Sharon Kirk, director of Hortinvest, says the new system allows the correct amount of water to be delivered to each tree, resulting in water and energy efficiencies.
“As horticulturalists we have a responsibility to look after the land and our water resource. Carrfields’ system allows us to direct water to a particular area for maximum irrigation impact with minimal wastage. The system is also straightforward to use, from the sprinklers themselves through to the central control system,” she says.
“We are very happy with the way the Carrfields team engaged with us and involved us right through the design and planning stages – it was a very collaborative process from the start that is still continuing as their team regularly visits our sites to make sure everything is operating optimally.”