It is estimated by the company the approach will bring an overall 50% efficiency boost in farms where it is implemented
Westfalia Fruit Group, a supplier of fresh vegetables and fruit, is rolling out a sustainable water system across its network of farms in South Africa, Portugal and Chile.
The company has developed a low-flow drip irrigation technique it claims saves a significant volume of the water used to grow the crop, while also increasing the output and economic value of the fruit. It is estimated by the company the approach will bring an overall 50% efficiency boost in farms where it is implemented.
The system features small pipes that run under the tree and contains emitters that releases less than one litre of water an hour per nozzle. Linked to a pump system and weather sensors, it replaces no more water than is lost from the avocado tree from evaporation and transpiration, Westfalia says. The system also reportedly improves air within the soil, allowing roots to produce healthier, more productive trees.
The low-flow initiative, which helped Westfalia improve its water-use efficiency by 14% in 2020, is part of the company’s long-term sustainability goals. In use in several of Westfalia’s farms across South Africa, Portugal and Chile and recently installed on the company’s avocado farm in Mozambique, the centrally controlled system is hoped to significantly reduce water usage. The company plans to gradually roll out the technology across its global farming portfolio as old orchards are replanted.
“Fifty years ago avocados and most orchard crops were flood irrigated,” said Zac Bard, Group executive global Farming, growers and commercial nurseries. “That gave way to improved technology over many years such as micro jets and then drippers. Now we have these innovative low-flow drippers at a time when farmers have a responsibility to feed the growing world population using the same or fewer resources. Buyers and consumers can be reassured that Westfalia avocados have been produced with care for the environment as a top priority.”