Waimarama Orchard is an established Avocado and Blueberry Orchard located in Ngataki, in the Far North of New Zealand. It is owned by Te Urungi o Ngati Kuri Ltd, the commercial arm of the Ngati Kuri Iwi Trust Board. Of the 311 hectares that make up the property, approximately 60 hectares is planted, sheltered, contoured and irrigated for productive commercial use, which includes 19,000 avocado trees and a brand new blueberry tunnel house plantation.
The property was purchased by the Ngati Kuri Trust in 2011 as a major investment into re-building the Iwi’s economic future. Several years on, there is substantial horticultural investment into the property to continue to drive economic returns in a form that aligns with the Trust’s cultural imperatives. The Waimarama Orchard has a dedicated team consisting eleven full-time employees and up to 9 temporary seasonal workers during harvest season.
With such a vast and growing enterprise, the Trust management of Waimarama Orchards needed to ensure their operation had the capacity to grow as the orchard grows. Specifically, the pump station – responsible for delivering sufficient water to the various trees to ensure optimum productivity of the plants – was unable to meet requirements of projected future growth.
In addition, overhauling the pump station presented the need for further filtration, monitoring, fertigation and other extended enhancements to ensure the orchard was future-proofed for expansion.
Alongside Avocado’s, a tunnel house-based Blueberry enterprise was in the early stages of development for the Orchard, requiring irrigation. With a small number of full-time staff and a large land area, effective irrigation and control systems were a key priority to manage both the time spent by employees, and the water usage, as efficiently as possible.
Parkland Products expanded the infrastructure from the pump house to the avocado site, designing and installing new underground pipework, the sub-mains and valve systems. In addition, a brand new GRUNDFOS pump station was installed, along with design and installation of irrigation for the Blueberry tunnel houses. Finally, the implementation of a remote monitoring and control system – MOTOROLA IRRInet – was enabled for the Blueberry plantation.
“Waimarama Orchard needed a system that gave orchard staff an early line of sight into optimising water usage and fault-finding, as well as other site variables” said Lance Dale, Technical Manager – Water Management at Parkland Products Ltd, “the MOTOROLA IRRInet control system platform includes integration of pumps, fertigation and control of valves on the blueberry tunnel houses, thus having all of their site variables programmed into one control system that can be operated remotely. Waimarama Orchard can now put their effort where focus is needed most, guided by data and monitoring over the vast expanse of land” he said.
The system now has sufficient capability to expand operationally, aligned with identified opportunities for growth projected by the Trust. Having Parkland see through the project process from initial design through to implementation and completion, Waimarama Orchard is able to focus on their core strength and capability – growing export fruit for the economic development of the Iwi and local community.
FROM WAIMARAMA ORCHARD:
“Parkland has taken us from a basic mechanical system to state-of-the-art technology, which has forced a change by way of upskilling staff in order to get the most out of the technology” explained Paul Tolladay, Orchard Manager for Waimarama Orchards.
“To their credit, our team have risen to the challenge, and we are well positioned both with the technology and the skills to grow the Orchard operations into the future” he said.