Irrigating cropping land efficiently is vital for the long-term sustainability of both business and harvest.
Pick up a pre-packed salad at the supermarket and chances are it’s been grown by Redloh Horticulture. And when you’re at the cinema, you’re probably eating Redloh popcorn too.
Across 200 hectares, Redloh grows a variety of crops including salad greens, vegetables for McCains and is a supplier of popcorn to NZ cinema chains.
Ten tonnes per week of salad leaves and annually over 1,500 tonnes of vegetables are harvested. Keeping the business watered and productive is crucial. Owner Gareth Holder runs “every conceivable type” of irrigation system, including centre pivot irrigators, travelling booms and guns, and fixed line sprinklers.
Over the past five years, Gareth has invested heavily in new technology to ensure he is irrigating as efficiently as possible.
“We grow our crops year-round so it’s essential we have irrigation systems that are both effective and environmentally balanced. We have invested in the latest nozzle technology which provides a more uniform application, less wastage and more control. At the same time, we have transitioned some crops to boom irrigation to gain efficiencies.
“With these investments, there have been major improvements to sediment and soil run-off, increased water use efficiency and reduced nutrient leaching.
The equipment and technology may be expensive, but we feel they’re necessary to farm successfully in Hawke’s Bay. We are dealing with high value crops on high value land, so we need to farm as efficiently as possible.”
Like all irrigators, Gareth has a water take consent from the Regional Council, which has rules around water use he must comply with.
“We monitor our soil regularly and use probes and mobile telemetry to give us moisture level readings. This lets us know how much water we need for optimum growth.”
“Much like a home gardener, we can’t grow crops without irrigation. Water is the lifeblood of our business, but we’re doing it smarter.”
5 December 2018
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