Optimising water is key value driver for WA Carpenters Project

Tech will give Alterra’s avocado farm an edge

Agricultural land developer Alterra is setting up its first avocado site using technology that represents best -rather than common- practice in a bid to enhance both sustainability and yield.

Brett Heather, Chief Operating and Technical Officer at Alterra, says the company is not reinventing the wheel as it introduces technologies to control water and nutrient delivery which impact fruit quality and shelf life with the consumer — something it can plan for well before any trees are planted.

“Change is pretty scary when you’re deviating from what everyone is doing out there, but it’s really taking a collection of best practice tools across the horticultural industry and applying them to what we are doing,” he told Stockhead.

“We’re adopting some common-sense approaches to farming that optimise what we’re doing. It’s not a revolution; it’s a grass roots, common-sense approach.”

Recently, Alterra closed a deal for the 300-hectare Carpenters project, which is located in the “golden triangle” agricultural region of Pemberton in south-west WA, this includes constructing a licensed dam site to hold over 3 Gigalitres of water, which will be one of the largest private dams in Western Australia. “We are very lucky in that we are doing a greenfields development and starting from scratch,” Heather said.

Alterra will install best practice irrigation and fertigation systems, which will ensure precious resources of water, nutrients and power are used in the most efficient way. This ensures the project delivers strong environment sustainability as well as financial performance.

The company is introducing an Israeli drip irrigation and fertigation (that’s the addition of nutrients, or fertiliser to irrigation) system, dendrometers to measure expansion and contraction in trees’ trunks and soil moisture probes.

The project will grow the Hass avocado variety which is in demand by consumers globally. This variety will be grafted utilising different root stocks that help resist soil borne diseases such as phytophthora and increase tree vigour.

Update
Alterra Ltd provided the following update on the 300-hectare avocado development located in Pemberton, Western Australia. Land preparation has begun for 100 hectares, with the Company proceeding with an initial 5-hectare planting of avocado trees in September 2020.

The development is housed in a special purpose vehicle, Carpenters Beedelup Pty Ltd (CBPL). Project financing activities are underway for the larger development. Once Phase 1 planting has been completed, Alterra will seek to capitalise the remainder of the SPV through development capital partners.

In the 10 weeks since gaining access to the property, Alterra has advanced the asset and cost optimisation study, completed site investigations, mobilised contractors and started preparation for the Phase 1 planting schedule as outlined in the Carpenters Project Update presentation.

The total land area leased at Carpenters is 500 hectares, and as such the Company has received interest from industry peers and local partners to consider additional high value horticultural activities for any surplus land and water at the property. 


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