Dutch grower Aard Robaard of Akkerbouw- en Fruitteeltbedrijf De Meerhof can partially irrigate his fruit. Yet, he will soon stop doing so. Aard has invested in three FrostFans mobile frost protectors. "I met Ernst Slabbekoorn of ForstFans at the Zeeland Fruit Growing Day and, right away, loved how the machines work," he says. "My enthusiasm was confirmed when I heard the good experiences fellow fruit grower Antoin Verwoerd had had with the machines."
Aard Robaard with Ernst Slabbekoorn and Johan Vogel at the Zeeland Fruit Growing Day.
"I'd planned to order a single machine and combine it with irrigation. But the idea of working with two systems became increasingly bothersome. I've never really been happy irrigating and ended up ordering three machines. These will keep our whole orchard frost-free. I have a rectangular 700 x 300m plot with a center aisle. These machines have a range of 150 meters on either side, so three large machines can cover that perfectly," the grower explains.
"Irrigation simply has too many drawbacks. It doesn't feel right to spray the blossoms with cold water, and the infection pressure's high. Also, a wet orchard increases the chance of flooding, and once you start irrigating, you can't stop. I wanted to be rid of that. The beauty of these machines is that they don't damage the pears. They work above the orchard, pulling warm air down from the inversion layer and mixing it with cold air at ground level, so the trees stay nice and dry."
Even though Aard had not had any major frost damage, he expects his Conference pears quality to improve. "We've had years with a lot more bottle-shaped pears than fellow growers," he continues. "You don't want that. Ultimately, you want continuity in your quality. I also see opportunities to combine the machines with our arable activities, for example, in the onion cultivation or to dry the products in the field barn."
Ease of use was another reason for this pear grower to invest in these machines. "With irrigation, it's always a hassle. These machines can run for nothing, and then, at most, you lose some fuel. You can start them up in no time, and once they arrive, you can get them up and running in ten minutes. They genuinely hold no surprises," Aard concludes.
Swift International still has machines in stock, available for delivery this spring.
For more information:
Tel.: +31 (0) 651 392 467
53 a Absdaalseweg
4561 GE, Hulst, NL