BLUEBERRY FIELDS FOREVER: Blueberry farmer Otto Saeck checks his blueberries.
BLUEBERRY FIELDS FOREVER: Blueberry farmer Otto Saeck checks his blueberries. Doug Eaton

DPI visit good news for berry growers

BLUEBERRY growers will learn about saving money and improving water quality in the Hearnes Lake catchment when the Department of Primary Industries makes a field visit.

Department of Primary Industries development officer (blueberries), Phil Wilk, will provide information to growers on how they can maximise their yield while reducing fertiliser application rates during his visit on Wednesday.

The visit is another initiative for local growers who are working to improve land management and water quality in the Hearnes Lake catchment.

"By better managing the amount of fertiliser being applied to crops, growers can save on their ongoing expenses, leading to improved profit margins," Mr Wilk said.

"Fertilisers are delivered to these crops through their irrigation systems.

"This means over-watering, or application of higher-than-necessary concentrations of nutrients can be lost to the catchment if not applied correctly, leading to greater costs and a smaller return for their money."

Mr Wilk said prior to the presentation, growers would have the opportunity to visit one of the blueberry farms which received free soil moisture probes as a way of monitoring water application to crops.

"First we will be visiting a farm on Holloways Road to see these moisture probes in action. The soil moisture probes were provided to growers to allow them to monitor water delivery to crops and ensure water was only applied when the plants needed it.

"This reduces seepage and runoff to the adjacent waterways, helping to reduce erosion and poor water quality in Hearnes Lake that develops when high nutrient loads enter the system."

Scott Nichols, DPI regional officer (coastal), said the three properties taking part in the project also received weed management along creeks and drainage lines adjacent their properties, accompanied by re-planting with native trees, shrubs and sedges.

DPI, Coffs Harbour City Council and local blueberry growers - with funding from the Office of Environment and Heritage's Estuaries Management Grants - are tackling high priority actions for the Hearnes Lake Estuary Management Plan.

To attend the field visit, meet at 4pm on the corner of Holloway and Condons Rd to inspect soil moisture probes. If just coming for the talk, meet at the Woolgoolga Bowling Club at 4.45pm.

For more information, contact Scott Nichols on 0429 300 489 or Phillip Wilk on 0411 139 567.



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