A date farm in Central Australia is celebrating a bumper harvest after doubling its previous record. Its workers are putting much of their success down to a switch to solar power. With a dramatic increase in the farm's output, the co-op initially was unsure if they would be able to sell all their dates. Most of the dates are sold in Australia, but much of the farm's yellow Khalal Barhi variety are heading to the Middle East
The Desert Fruit Company, owned by the Tamara Cooperative, hand-picked more than 15 tonnes of dates this season at its farm 60 kilometres south-east of Alice Springs. Company director Kim Mackay said this year's harvest yielded more dates than ever before in the six years the co-op has run the farm: "We've had a fantastic season, the best season we've ever had since the new group started the cooperative.”
Mr Mackay attributed much of the improved harvest to the farm's new solar-powered water system, which all but eliminated water problems they had in previous years: "Since we upgraded from the old diesel-powered pump to an automatic solar system that runs all day long, we've increased the amount of water to the plants by far. Also, we've improved the organic fertigation process. I think those two together have contributed to our fantastic season."