ICONIC Israeli agricultural companies, Haifa and Netafim, are once again proving to be shining lights for Australian agriculture, this time in the country’s almond industry.
Haifa was recently the signature sponsor of the 2016 Almond Board of Australia conference and hosted Californian expert Blake Sanden in Australia over two weeks to talk with growers at the conference and in key growing regions.
Netafim was also a major player at the conference, where Dr Itamar Nadav, Project Manager and Chief Agronomist with the company’s Research and Development Department, flew in from Israel to speak with growers, before joining Blake on the tour of orchard areas to present seminars.
Itamar highlighted Netafim’s work with variable rate drip irrigation (VRDI) at the conference and said investigations would continue in a range of crops to confirm its benefits for increasing yields and efficiencies, including fertigation, as well as reducing costs.
He said VRDI aimed to eliminate or reduce spatial variability, as well as variability in yield and quality.
Compared with a focus to water big trees more and small trees less, Netafim’s approach has been to provide adequate water to big trees and more to small trees.
In a case study in a vineyard where there was lots of variability and yields were halved in some parts, the company divided the area into 12 zones for VRDI. The result was a dramatic improvement in leaf area index and maintained or higher yields without any additional water being applied.
“It showed that you can increase yield by about 30 per cent without planting one more vine,’’ Itamar said.
This year, the company is set to install 40 acres of VRDI in almonds in conjunction with the Almond Board of California, with further work also planned in vineyards and possibly in Australia
Haifa and Netafim highly value opportunities to support and partner with grower and industry organisations, and to enhance knowledge sharing across the industry and across the globe.