With the variable New Zealand climate, there is a significant challenge for kiwifruit growers who want to produce consistently high volumes of quality fruit.
In the past growers have focused on practical rather than scientific processes, but due to the changing environmental pressures, they are becoming more aware of the important role science and technology can play to improve outputs. Growers already have a number of ways of adapting to changing weather patterns, but there is an on-going need for innovation and experimentation to ensure growers are equipped for the future
Arondale Orchard's Keith Holdom turned an overgrown eyesore into an ecological niche when he converted a natural gully into two lakes, which now serve as an efficient irrigation and frost protection system for his orchard.
After noting the changing climate, in particular the recurring spring frosts, Keith realised he could make the most of the natural gully by clearing and developing what was already a natural resource for water storage. Now Keith can control when it rains on his orchard by using a sustainable water source and he can also use this as a tool to counter frosts.
"The biggest benefit for us is the sprinkler system we have developed to counter the damage caused by winter and spring frosts before they set in," says Keith.
"Now we're onto our next sustainable project - creating a biological fertiliser system which will eliminate the need for herbicides."
"I am always looking for ways to make our orchard as sustainable as possible - not only are we preparing for the future, we're also working to preserve the environment and it's a great challenge which I am continually motivated by."