Location – Corindi (NSW) & Devonport (TAS)
Berry Exchange is one of the leading producers of berries in Australia. The company has undergone rapid expansion over the past decade to 400 hectares of production in Australia as well as 126 hectare operation in Morocco. Berry Exchange currently produces approximately 50% of Australia’s blueberry production and 65% of Australia’s raspberry production. Berry Exchange’s Coffs Harbour site has recently made significant changes such as growing different genetics and moving from soil to substrate production. One of the most recent developments for Berry Exchange was the Devonport site which grows strawberries exclusively on substrate. On both sites, Berry Exchange has invested in Priva NutriJet automated injection systems and Priva Compact 530 controllers.
Berry Exchange was looking at more effective and efficient ways to irrigate with precise fertiliser and pH application to their substrate production systems. With typical direct injection dosing systems, both fertiliser and acid/alkali is added to the irrigating water flow. This created large fluctuations to pH and EC, therefore creating undesirable or unachievable pH and EC levels in the field. Other challenges included the ability to gain real time information remotely, an understandable controller interface and an alarm system for greater crop security.
Don Bode, Devonport Strawberry Farm Manager commented on the following challenges for his site:
- “To optimise usage of irrigation and nutrient applications ensuring yield targets are achieved cost effectively.”
- “The system must be user friendly, accurate, reliable, require minimum manpower to operate and allow us to monitor, in real time, and make changes remotely.”
- “The system must have good service support.”
The NutriJet is a modern and attractive alternative to a mixing tank system. The Nutrijet injects the fertilizer solution direct in the mainstream irrigation water. A major advantage of this is that anextra fresh water pump is not necessary. NutriJet is modular and allows the grower to inject up to 8 fertiliser solutions simultaneously. The computer control can be supplied with the system or the NutriJet can hook up to any Priva process computer. The Priva NutriJet can be supplied to suit field or substrate production systems that flow rates range between 1m³/hr to over 70m³/hr inline. Higher flow rates can be achieved when installed as part of a bypass system.
The Priva NutriJet includes a mixing chamber to ensure all fertiliser and acid/alkali is thoroughly mixed before heading to the plants. This decreases the fluctuation of EC and pH and allows the system to accurately dose to the grower’s desired target EC and pH levels.
The Priva NutriJet comes standard with two EC and two pH sensors to ensure all the dosing and readings are correct. The system is typically installed with an alarm dialler which can be programmed to alert the grower or managers of any flow, EC or pH issues. With the incorporation of the Priva controller, the unit can be easily controlled remotely with all data being easily available through the Priva Office software. Other additional information can be also gained through optional field sensors such as drain trays, moisture and EC sensors, temperature, wind speed & direction, humidity, and solar radiation.
Rubus manager Greg Jarman is very enthusiastic with the Priva system at both Coffs Habour and Tasmania productions sites. “We currently use drain parameters to irrigate and try to keep constant moisture levels in the pots. EC parameters are monitored closely via drain trays to ensure salt levels do not build up to levels which will affect yield and quality. We also use the Priva NutriJet and Priva controller to ensure nutrients are supplied effectively while pH is controlled and monitored to ensure nutrient availability.” Greg and his team are currently allowing the Priva NutriJet to irrigate off solar radiation sum which will allow further automated control of EC and the amount of supplied water during varying weather conditions.
When asked what the biggest benefits for Berry Exchange to using the Priva NutriJet and Priva Compact 530 controller, Greg Jarman mentioned the following points:
“Real time monitoring and control”
“Improved security through alarm systems”
“Monitoring and control from anywhere via remote login”
“User interface is easy to use, flexible and easy to understand”
“Ability to further expand on the Priva controller to add, monitor and control field sensors and future NutriJet/water treatment units”
Don Bode, strawberry farm manager also commented on the benefits he has experienced with Priva NutriJet and Priva Compact 530 controller:
- “Top crop prodcued cost effectively.”
- “Staff using he system were able to adapt, learn and use the system in a short time frame.”
- “Allows for real time monitoring of water and nutrients applied.”
- “Allows for remote management of the system.”
- “Precise applications and changes can be made to the water an nutrients applied.”
- “The units are very reliable, well designed and constructed for ease of maintenance.”
- “Servie support from Powerplants Australia for the Priva system is excellent.