Collaborating and researching to make every drop count

We all know that water is a precious resource.  Orchardists in the Perth Hills region in Western Australia are all too aware of this, having seen a decline in rainfall and groundwater as a result of an increasingly dry climate in the region.

To help the industry adapt and survive, Perth NRM and a group of growers – the Hills Orchard Improvement Group – have set out on a project to better manage the use of ground water and adapt practices to a changing climate.

Agronomist Neil Lantzke making a presentation.

The project last year received a funding boost of $23,500 from The Coca-Cola Foundation through its partnership with Landcare Australia.  The funding has gone towards research and collaboration with horticulturists, water management consultants, government and industry partners.  An independent local agronomist undertook research and benchmarking on current and best practices.

A knowledge sharing forum held last month in Fairbrossen Estate in Carmel presented the findings and other information to almost 80 attendees, including local grape growers, nursery managers and local government officers.

Marcel Veens, renowned agronomist and horticultural adviser, spoke to the attendees about optimising water use and adapting to a drying climate.  Also speaking was groundwater expert, Martin Guimelli, who shared his knowledge on locating additional on-farm water resources.  Other topics discussed on the day were climate and water availability trends in the region and benchmarking results of current fertiliser and irrigation management practices.

Attendees were presented with a comprehensive information pack which included the independent research findings as well as resources from the other speakers.  The project has allowed a large number of local producers to access invaluable information from relevant experts that will help them adapt their practices in response to some of the challenges they are facing.

Attendees at the recent knowledge sharing forum.

Keith Pekin from Perth NRM is optimistic that the project will benefit the industry.

“Feedback from participants before and after the event has been really positive.  Ongoing access to water is a real concern for them and any support that can enable them to utilise this resource as sustainably as possible is really appreciated,” he said.

This project is one of six funded last year by The Coca-Cola Foundation through its 10 year partnership with Landcare Australia.  One hundred thousand went to the projects, which focused on helping improve water quality, habitat connectivity, community engagement and education. Collectively, Coca-Cola has contributed close to $800,000 towards Landcare community projects, since 2006.

Last year, as part of its 2020 sustainability commitments, The Coca-Cola Company achieved its goal to return every drop of water used back to nature, four years early. Coca-Cola continues its efforts globally to support local environmental projects across the globe.

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