BOOM horticultural crop, avocado, could return up to 50 per cent more for growers if techniques from leading global, on-farm research in Israel are adopted.
That was the message delivered to excited growers in meetings with Israeli expert Dr Avner Silber at Mareeba, Childers and Kilcoy in Queensland, as well as at Renmark in South Australia, coordinated recently by specialty fertiliser supplier, Haifa Australia, in conjunction with irrigation specialist, Netafim.
Dr Silber, who works for the Avocado Board of Israel and was a Professor at the renowned Volcani Institute, which has a long history of research, conducted farmer trials over more than four years, determining fertigation and irrigation demands throughout the avocado crop production cycle for maximising yields and quality.
Research data, together with fertigation and irrigation techniques used in the trials, show the potential to increase grower avocado yields from 10-15 tonnes per hectare up to 30t/ha.
Dr Silber said avocado had a particularly high energy component, which meant it had some of the highest demand for nutrition among tree crops, although demand could also differ from field to field and year to year.
The trials focused on matching fertigation and irrigation applications to the physiology of avocado trees and the time of year.
Dr Silber said the applications were also calculated according to the energy content in 1t of avocado.
“You can then determine the quantity of energy per kilo of avocado and look at the requirement for N, P, K and other nutrients. You can know how much nutrition is needed for 1kg – it becomes very logical,” Dr Silber said.
“Some people just say ‘that’s enough’ or ‘not enough’ with nutrition, but that’s not right. The key is to do applications accurately and continuously. The requirement of a nutrient is not constant during the growth period.
“Understanding the phenology process of avocado is necessary for an optimum fertigation regime.”
He said phosphorus was a critical nutrient for the high energy content in avocado.
“Many growers also don’t realise P might not be available.”
Dr Silber said the most sensitive period for avocado growth and yield was before flowering, while fruit growth, of course, was another critical period.
Suitable irrigation methods and correct applications were critical as well – “knowing how much to apply, when to apply it, how to control it and if it was okay or not okay’’.
Dr Silber said drip irrigation was the most efficient way to deliver nutrients to avocado crops – and was more energy efficient.
He said it allowed nutrients to be delivered to trees at times when large amounts of irrigation water may not be needed or desired.
Meanwhile, with significant new investment occurring in the avocado industry, Haifa Australia Managing Director Trevor Dennis said Dr Silber’s research could offer the opportunity to better direct future investments.
“With any new investment, people should think about what they are exactly doing and to do it properly – not just the way they may have done it before,’’ Mr Dennis said.
- Copy supplied by Haifa.