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"Priva fertigation systems are reliable, very well designed, but above all, great to use!"

  • Irrigation based on actual plant need 
  • Accurate control of EC and pH
  • Easy to use controls from a central location

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  • Berry Exchange is one of Australia's largest producers of quality soft fruit. The company has undergone enormous growth over the past decade. The current cultivation area consists of 400 hectares in Australia, and 126 hectares in Morocco. Berry Exchange accounts for approximately 50 per cent of all Australian blueberry production and 65 per cent of raspberry production. At two of their sites, the soft fruit company recently invested in Priva NutriJet fertigation systems and Priva Compact process computers

    Major changes in cultivation have been made at the Coffs Harbour (New South Wales) production site. New varieties of raspberries are being cultivated and production has been moved from soil to substrate. Raspberries are extremely sensitive to irrigation and fertigation. To ensure optimum quality and taste, precise coordination to the needs of the plant is required. That calls for an advanced, automated system.

    Even more recently, at its Devonport (Tasmania) site, the company has switched to growing strawberries exclusively on substrate. Berry Exchange now works with Priva systems at both sites.

    Challenges
    Following the growth in production, the soft fruit specialist was looking for a more effective and efficient method of irrigation, with a precise dosage of the fertilisers and a stable pH and EC. "With the existing direct injection systems, we had to deal with large fluctuations, which created undesirable or even unacceptable pH and EC levels," explains Don Bode, field manager for the Devonport Strawberry farm. While it is true that NutriJet also works according to this principle, it is much more accurate.

    The Manager's other requirements included the ability to obtain real-time information remotely, an understandable controller interface and an alarm system for greater crop security. Don Bode translated these requirements into a number of challenges: "The optimum usage of irrigation and nutrients must ensure that production targets are achieved in a cost-effective manner. The system had to be user friendly, accurate, reliable and flexible, and require minimum manpower to operate. Good service and professional support were, of course, also essential."

    Production and quality
    Berry Exchange found the solution in the form of the NutriJet from Priva. The NutriJet is a modern and attractive alternative to dosing systems with a mixing tank. The system injects the fertiliser solution directly into the water dosage system. 

    A major advantage of these systems is that they do not require a water supply pump. The NutriJet is modular and gives the soft fruit grower the option of injecting between one and ten fertiliser solutions simultaneously.

    Greg Jarman, Rubus manager of the Berry Exchange production site in Coffs Harbour, is very enthusiastic about the Priva system. "We currently use drain parameters for irrigation and we try to keep optimum moisture levels in the pots. EC parameters are monitored closely to ensure that salt levels do not rise to an extent that they would adversely affect production and quality." At both sites, the Priva NutriJet and Compact are also used for the guaranteed and effective administration of nutrients, tailored to the needs of the plant.

    Expansion
    When asked about the greatest benefits of the Priva systems for Berry Exchange, the two managers spontaneously list various positive attributes. Real-time monitoring and control, and improved security through the presence of alarm systems, are the first advantages mentioned by Greg Jarman. "The remote login, which allows us to monitor and control from any location, is also a major benefit. In addition, the system is easy to use and understand, and is flexible. Moreover, we have the ability to expand the system in the future with NutriJet water management units."

    His colleague, Don Bode endorses the added value of the NutriJet mentioned by Greg Jarman and adds that it results in optimum and cost-effective strawberry crop production. "The staff who work with the system were able to master the working method in a short time frame. A major benefit is that we can work very precisely with water and nutrients. This has enabled us to achieve improved crop results very quickly. The systems are very reliable, well designed and constructed for ease of maintenance."

    Last but not least, Jarman and Bode mention a key aspect: the role of the Priva dealer. "The service and support from Powerplants Australia, Priva's partner in the region, is excellent." 


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