Applying compost can revitalise soil for fruit

Katikati orchardist Robert Knyvett with his vines laden with kiwifruit above and his soil below enriched with Revital Fertilisers’ compost. Photo: Merle Foster.

“You’ve definitely come to see me at the right time,” says Katikati kiwifruit grower Robert Knyvett, as Coast and Country News pulled up at his orchard last month. “We’ve had some bad years and some good years here.”

This season is his best yet for his 2.5 canopy ha of Hayward green and .5ha of G3 gold, on land off Walford Rd. “This is the highest crop we’ve ever had here,” says Robert, who has been growing kiwifruit for about 30 years.

“We normally get about 8000 trays per hectare. That’s been our result for the last two years. This year we’re looking at 12,000 trays per ha,” says Robert, looking at his fruit-laden vines prior to harvest.

“And while you have to compare it with the industry – which is also showing an increase in production this year – this is a good crop,” says Robert.

He says a range of factors have contributed to this season’s fruit, but having the right balance in your soil definitely helps.

Robert applies Revital 50 – a 50/50 blend of Revital compost and organic certified chicken manure – to the soil once-a-year during winter.

Revital Fertilisers’ compost helps to maintain or restore soil balance, with the addition of quality organic matter stimulating growth of beneficial soil microbes and assisting in growth in crop yields.

And when applied to soil the compost also binds nutrients and improves water holding capacity, making it ideal for orchards. Plus, it’s certified organic by Biogro NZ.

In Robert’s case his orchard has the strip-row male system, where male vines are trained along alternate rows, replacing existing female vines in that row, to provide additional productive area for the female vine canopy.

“The beauty of putting 20 tonne or 25 tonne on 2.5 per ha is I effectively get 50 tonne on there,” says Robert. “Because I try to grow extra on the females.”

Today, he uses Revital Fertilisers’ Compost on all of his vines. “I’ve used it for about four years – but prior to this, for about six years.

“When we used it last time in 2004 we were 44 per cent ahead of the Te Puke average. Then we backed off as the price of Hayward green went to $3 per tray and we were under a lot of financial stress. Then we re-introduced it again.”

Robert says Revital Fertiliser is the only product he’s used on his vines – and he believes consistently applying their compost in the last three years has paid off.

“Yes, I think it keeps your orchard very organic and you can see what it grows.”



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