News & Media

Sustainable citrus field day

Released on

Released on:
Thursday, 17. October 2013 - 13:45

Citrus growers and industry representatives from throughout Western Australia recently gathered at Harvey at a sustainability field day.

Department of Agriculture and Food development officer Bronwyn Walsh said the field day program featured four speakers and visits to a local orchard and packing shed.

“The long-term sustainability of the citrus industry is complex and relies on the environment, production systems, consumers of WA citrus fruits and the financial health of growers,” Ms Walsh said.

“These factors are a focus of the local citrus industry as its production continues to increase and shrinking margins and rising input costs challenge profitability.”

At the field day, department development officers Tilwin Westrup and James Dee spoke about the state of Western Australia’s water and recommended irrigation management practices for improved water-use efficiency in the orchard.

Building on the growers’ training in the Waterwise program, James Dee suggested growers develop water budgets for average and low rainfall years and use long-term predictive tools to estimate potential water resources.

“Mr Dee said growers could maximise production from each megalitre of water by effectively scheduling irrigation events and adapting their production systems to cope with potential water quality issues,” Ms Walsh said.

“Monitoring water resources during rainfall periods for both quantity and quality and making decisions early to avoid rushed decisions or wasted resources on poor performing blocks were also suggested.”

Mr Westrup reminded citrus growers they could take-up the offer of comprehensive on-farm assessments conducted as part of the department’s More Dollars Per Drop project which aims to assist growers to achieve more efficient water use.

Mr Westrup said following the on-farm assessment and an interview on the grower’s water-use practices, reports were prepared for growers, highlighting their current water use and recommendations to improve efficiency.

“Growers are advised to use and maintain a soil moisture monitoring system that suits their soil, crop and management practices, and calculate their yield per mega litre to gain insight on their potential to increase water use efficiency,” Mr Westrup said.

“The More Dollars Per Drop assessment combined with individual calculations of yield per mega litre will provide an indication of the gross dollar-value of water to the business to guide grower investment in water saving strategies and infrastructure.”

Andrew Wherrett from Living Farm presented details about the nitrogen cycle and its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, and ways to limit them, which he indicated could become a long-term issue or opportunity for growers.

Ms Walsh said the department also reported on preliminary results of fruit quality testing in the Western Australian market.

“So far, the testing is demonstrating excellent performance of local fruit, indicating that Western Australian orchards are continuing to meet consumer demand for great tasting fruit and helping to ensure the long term viability of the local citrus industry,” Ms Walsh said.

The sustainable citrus field day was supported by the department, Perth NRM, Horticulture Australia and Fruit West.


Media contacts: Jodie Thomson/Lisa Bertram, media liaison  +61 (0)8 9368 3937