Haifa links with Israeli industry, irrigation company in Australian fertiliser conference

ISRAELI-BASED international specialty fertiliser supplier, Haifa Chemicals, has continued its strong investment into the Australian market, recently holding a national conference in Melbourne to update agronomists and other reseller staff from around the country on the latest in fertiliser technologies and nutrient application techniques.

Haifa engaged leading nutritiona

l experts from Israel’s horticulture industry and linked with worldwide irrigation equipment company, Netafim, also with its headquarters in Israel, to stage the event.

Trevor Dennis, Managing Director with Haifa’

s Australian subsidiary, Haifa Chemicals Australia, said the company was keen to invest in some of Israel’s horticultural nutrition expertise to speak with the Australian industry.

The special two-day ‘Haifa University’ event in Melbourne featured two Israeli guest speakers as well as presenters on fertigation equipment and its application in the industry.

The conference attracted 46 delegates, including from as far as New Zealand with distributor, Prime Hort, and Western Australia with Mirco Bros.

Consultant agronomist Roberto Natan, who also works with the Israeli Department of Agriculture, discussed the making of fertiliser solutions from solid fertiliser and the importance of injecting the correct “stock solution’’ through irrigation systems to prevent root burn and other issues.

He also outlined the availability of the different nutrients to plants.

Delegates particularly learned how new systems of fertigation, or ‘Nutrigation’ as Haifa refers to it, can help increase crop yields, fertiliser use efficiency and application efficiencies.

Amir Polak, Product Manager with Haifa in Israel, highlighted the company’s leading Controlled Release Fertiliser (CRF) technology in its Multicote range. These products are based on fertiliser granules with a soluble nutrient core, surrounded by a polymer coating which can be adjusted during the manufacturing process to give longer or shorter release of the nutrients.

Amir discussed the different release curves with the Multicote fertilisers, ranging from two months to 16 months.

Haifa’s Multicote products differ from many other CRF fertilisers because the release rate is governed by temperature, not moisture. Other factors such as soil type, humidity, pH and microbial activity do not affect the release rate. This ensures the nutrient being supplied to the plant is not lost during periods of high rainfall or over-watering, and it is what distinguishes the technology from conventional granular fertilisers.

The Multicote products combine controlled release and readily available sources of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Different compositions address the specific nutritional needs of each crop type and the growth conditions.

Haifa says in terms of fertiliser use efficiency, they allow nutrient applications to be reduced by 20-30 per cent of what would normally be applied using standard granular products. This is due to the low nutrient loss factor and their ability to feed plants in a more consistent way compared with other granular fertilisers.

Delegates at the conference were made aware of some of the latest equipment available, particularly in relation to fertigation, from Peter Henry, agronomist with Netafim, while Haifa’s Nutri-Net software program for advisers and growers also was highlighted. The Nutri-Net program helps with planning irrigation schemes and crop Nutrigation programs and offers primary and advanced operation levels.

Paul Elkin, agronomist in broadacre and tomato production crops with IK Caldwell at Rochester in Victoria, said the focus on monitoring soil solutions at the conference was especially interesting.

“The conference highlighted that we should be monitoring soil solutions more once we have fertigated with products to assess impacts on pH, ECs and other factors,’’ Paul said.

He said information on Haifa’s CRF technology and the different release times of its Multicote products according to soil temperature also was highly valuable.

Neil Innes, agronomist with Lindsay Rural at Bundaberg in Queensland, said the technology associated with Haifa’s Multicote fertilisers and its range of Multi-K products available with different nutrient compositions offered significant benefits for the future direction of horticultural crop nutrition.

Neil said the conference also made him aware of some of the latest developments with fertigation programs and nutrient application efficiency.

Ron Bollard, Queensland and Northern New South Wales Territory Manager with Eco Fertiliser Wholesale Pty Ltd, agreed that the granular CRF technology with Haifa’s Multicote products was very exciting for the industry.

“The update on the technology and outline of the workings of the fertilisers at the conference was excellent. They are the way of the future in granular fertilisers and for helping prevent nutrient loss,’’ Ron said.

He said the developments with fertigation and how this applied to the apple industry in a case in Victoria, contributing to improved profitability, also was encouraging.

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