Home' Grower : May 2012 Contents The South Australian Grower -- May 2012
The recent Olive Field Day held at the Bovalina Olive Oil Group's
premises at Penfield Gardens, provided the opportunity for a range of
industry-associated companies to provide trade stands and showcase
their products on the day. JULIE PAUL had a chat to a few of the
Efficiency for prime water-use
MEASUREMENT Engineering Australia aims
to take the guess work out of irrigation.
Showcasing the company's products,
Business Development Officer Sonja Van
Wegan (pictured) says the demand for
MEA's moisture assessment equipment has
grown in proportion to the rise in the cost
of water for growers dependent on mains
supply, and the restrictions in allocations
imposed on those who use Murray water.
MEA's biggest seller is probably their
simplest, cheapest and easiest to use. The
GDot indicator is a purely visual aid,
indicating the degree of difficulty plants are
experiencing in extracting water from the
A sensor is buried in a hole adjacent to
the active root zone and the GDot indicator
is located nearby, on a wire or attached to
a fence post. It displays a number of dots
indicating moisture levels, which alter as
"It's so easy for the grower," Sonja said.
"He/she just rides past on a quad bike and
can see the display at a glance -- seven
dots indicates full moisture, and by the
time there are only two dots showing, it's
time to turn on the irrigation equipment.
"The number of units required depends
on the soil type and number of irrigation
points used. Obviously if your soil ranges
from sandy to clay, the retention rates will
vary and different sensors will be needed
for each zone."
The GDot units, costing $300 plus GST
with a discount for quantity buys, are being
used extensively in olive groves, vineyards
and with irrigated vegetable and cereal
"It is not really suitable for broadacre
farming where rainfall is the primary water
source," Sonja said.
"For those areas we need to move into
more sophisticated equipment."
MEA's range of moisture management
tools extends through to computerised
units which also calculate soil temperature
and salinity, as well as rainfall and wind
speed, recording data at adjustable
intervals and downloading it to a computer
as tables or graphs.
"We call it replacing guess work with
certainty, letting you know just what's
going on in the soil and optimising growing
opportunities and results," Sonja said.
Details: MEA www.mea.com.au 08 8332
'Do it yourself' leads to
WHEN olive grower Steve
Barilla found it difficult
to get a contractor to
har vest his olives at the optimum
time, he decided the best solu-
tion was to buy his own har vester
and set up as a contractor him-
"The problem is always that
most of the olives were ready at
about the same time," Steve said.
"The contractors were in such
demand then that there was too
much work for them to handle
within the given time frame.
"So we decided to bring in a
purpose-built machine from
Italy. Now there are no problems
har vesting our own olives, and as
we only have about 3000 trees,
there is plenty of time left over to
provide a ser vice to other grow-
ers around the district."
This is the second year of oper-
ation for Barilla Olive
Har vesting, and Steve has found
a steady demand for his machine.
"Last year was an extremely
good one for growers, so there
was quite a bit of work for us to
get ourselves established," he
said. The machine operates on
an extensive hydraulic system
with full control from the cabin.
The operator drives it into the
tree, the folded umbrella mech-
anism opens up around it, jaws
clamp onto the tr unk, and the
vibrating head shakes the olives
off the tree into the base --
which holds up to half a tonne --
and then transfers them to a
holding bin. The whole opera-
tion is fast and efficient.
"We are restricted a bit on the
layout of trees and their
growth," Steve said. "We need
trees which have about 800 mil-
limetres of clean tr unk, but
most of the groves around here
have trees with at least one clear
metre, so we haven't had too
many problems in that regard.
"Obviously steep slopes pro-
vide a challenge, as they do with
tractors. We are fine with undu-
lating paddocks and I've worked
on inclines of up to 60 degrees,
but that 'mountain-goat' land is
not ideal and I prefer to keep
clear of it."
As a grower himself, Steve is
well aware of biosecurity con-
cerns of producers and is always very
particular about washing the
machine down thoroughly after each
job so there is no fear of transmitting
anything harmful from property to
Setting up in the contracting busi-
ness has been a positive move for
"We only intend to work within
South Australia," he said, "And we
are looking for ward to continued
expansion, building on the excellent
start we made last season.
"Sure, there's competition with
other contractors, but we all work in
the same industry so we tend to
work together rather than in opposi-
Details: Steve Barilla 0411 402 405
Steve Barilla decided to import his own harvester to ensure optimum
production of his olives. The decision grew into a contracting business.
its grasping jaws
(front) and the
the tree to catch
One-stop-shop provides advice
FOR growers needing advice on
setting up, equipment, care and
maintenance, production and
even packaging, The Olive Centre
is a good place to start.
A Queensland-based company,
its South Australian
representative is Bob Ware who is
happy to provide a service to
growers ranging from the small
operator just beginning to
establish an olive grove, through
to the 10-tonne-an-hour
"We take enquiries right across
the board," Bob said. "Probably
most of our callers are personal
approaches from SA, but we also
get enquiries via phone, email and
internet from growers overseas.
"Like most agricultural
industries, olive production is
feeling the pinch right now so it's
even more important for growers
to spend their dollars wisely.
"The high Aussie dollar is
making it tough for exporters, and
the flood of cheap overseas-
produced oil makes it equally
hard for local growers to
compete.'" he said.
"We are in an ideal growing
climate in SA. Our product is
second to none in quality and The
Olive Centre aims to assist
growers to maintain the best
possible standards and achieve
the best possible results.
"There are a number of
similarities between the olive and
grape-growing industries. Both
enjoy the same growing
conditions, for a start, but like the
wine industry, there is still a
niche market for the small
Details: www.theolivecentre.com or
07 4696 9845
Looking for Harvest Workers?
Picking, Packing, Pruning, Thinning & All other Seasonal Requirements
Contact your local MADEC Harvest Labour O ce on Freecall 1800 062 332
Direct 08 8323 7459
Shop 4, 112 Main Road
McLaren Vale, South Australia
Direct 08 8586 1900
8 Ral Ral Avenue,
Renmark, South Australia
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