News & Media

Irrigation the key to strawberry profits

Released on

Released on:
Friday, 19. July 2013 - 14:00

Boosting the profits of Western Australian strawberry growers by using irrigation and fertilisers more efficiently is the aim of a new project led by the Department of Agriculture and Food.

Vietnamese strawberry growers who now comprise at least 80 per cent of the industry will get specialised technical advice from a combined department and industry team.

Project leader Aileen Reid said traditional ways to communicate technical information had struggled with some Vietnamese growers due to language barriers and a new approach was being tried.

“We will be translating information into Vietnamese, using computer tablets in the field and providing short video clips on DVD to demonstrate good practices,” she said.

“Experienced grower Gerry Verheyen is part of the team and will be working closely with growers on their farms to provide practical input.”

Ms Reid said more efficient irrigation was the key to improved returns for growers through better use of available water and better control of soil-borne diseases.

“Our understanding is that many growers are applying too much water,” she said.

“Overwatering also leads to very high humidity around the plants and can cause more foliar diseases, so greater efficiency is a win on many levels.”

The project will engage about a dozen growers per year in free irrigation assessments and advice.

Over three years, at least six properties will be offered more intensive assistance with their irrigation and fertiliser practices. On one property the team will establish a ‘best practice’ demonstration area.

The project is being funded by the Department of Agriculture and Food, Horticulture Australia Limited and the Agricultural Produce Commission’s Strawberry Producers’ Committee.

The WA strawberry industry is located mainly in the Wanneroo, Carabooda and Bullsbrook areas near Perth. About 11,500 tonnes of fruit are grown annually with a farmgate value of at least $50 million and industry value of about $100 million. Much of the crop is sold interstate and overseas.


Media contact: Jodie Thomson, media liaison   +61 (0)8 9368 3937