Saving water and speeding up growth
Delecta Fruit’s commitment to delivering premium fruit goes deeper than fruit texture, colour and sugar levels. Delecta is dedicated to the overall wellbeing of our agricultural landscape, considering economic, social and environmental factors. For this reason, and in light of the ongoing water shortage in South Africa, we encourage our producers to implement suitable strategies to save water and energy where possible.
One such strategy is the Tree Hog micro-irrigation drip system which was recently installed by one of our pome and stone fruit producers in the Ceres valley, Elandsrivier Farming.
The brainchild of local Robertson farmer, Louise Loubser, Tree Hog allows micro-sprinkler users to significantly cut water and energy use in orchards.
“We installed the Tree Hog system in a young Sweet Henry peach orchard two seasons ago. Although we are only two seasons into the commercial trial, we have already seen a significant decrease in water and electricity usage. We are also hopeful that the system will assist with fighting weeds and speeding up the tree maturing process,” says Joubert Stemmet, Manager at Elandsrivier Farm.
Tree Hog system in use on Elandsrivier Farm in Prince Alfred’s Hamlet in a young Sweet Henry peach orchard.
Tree Hog inventor, Louis describes the system as a combination of drip- and micro-irrigation in one product. It concentrates the water from the micro-sprinklers in a small area, creating an intense drip action. Micro-sprinklers tend to waste water, as some inevitably fall in the pathways between tree rows.
The Tree Hog ensures that only the area that the farmer wants to irrigate is watered. “At the same time, it disperses water over a wider area than drip-irrigation does, producing trees with better-developed root systems. With drip-irrigation, the roots of the trees are often concentrated underneath the drip system,” Louis explains.
Inventor, Louise Loubser in an orchard where the Tree Hog system is used. Photo sourced from: www.treehog.co.za
“The idea is that a farmer would use it mainly on young trees, as a lot of water is lost during irrigation at this stage because of the small tree canopies,” Louis continues. “Farmers could remove the Tree Hog from the trees when they are about six years old. By then, they have a larger canopy and a well-developed root structure.” According to Louise, the system is ideal in situations where farm expansions are inhibited by a scarcity of water.
Photo sourced from: www.treehog.co.za
In addition to saving water, other benefits include saving electricity costs and lowering a farm’s carbon footprint. The Tree Hog also helps fight weeds. “The weeds grow around the Tree Hog, but there are no weeds inside it, so there was no direct competition between the weeds and the young trees,” he says.
And if that isn’t enough reason to use it, trials have shown that Tree Hog trees have better-developed root systems and produce earlier leaf flush than the trees without it.
For more information on Tree Hog, visit www.treehog.co.za.
*The direct quotations from Louise Loubser included in this article were originally published in Farmer’s Weekly on 11 July 2016, and therefore remains the property of Farmer’s Weekly.