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Strawberry Fields Forever: Netafim’s Supernet Micro-Sprinklers show up the true colours of strawberries

13 Oct 2015

Strawberry Fields Forever:  Netafim’s Supernet Micro-Sprinklers show up the true colours of strawberries

At Netafim we love being part of other people’s success story. Part of this journey means maintaining high quality products, exemplary service and constant innovation. We continually work to provide effective problem-specific solutions that are ingenious, affordable and primed for success in sometimes difficult circumstances.

No more so than in the problematic business of strawberry farming. Not only can this be a finicky fruit to grow and harvest but our client, Xolani Gumede, planned to farm them in Ballito on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast. He was told it couldn’t be done: not only was it a difficult crop to master but the climate was wrong. The advice was not that they would grow poorly but that they wouldn’t grow at all.

But Xolani settled that argument by finding two solutions: tirelessly researching varieties of these juicy red succulent fruits to find one best-suited to both the soil and the climate – and seeking the support of Netafim’s advanced irrigation systems designed specifically for strawberries. It was his recipe for success.

Supernet Micro-Sprinklers

You can save time and money and improve the quality of your production by using this uniquely designed system that serves both conventional and organic strawberries.

Operational benefits include: 

  • Sprinklers which make your water go further through a lower water flow rate and reduced run-off
  • Easy harvesting and spraying: sprinklers can be left in the field from transplant through harvest
  • Lower energy: get a 35% - 40% reduction in pumping power
  • Dust control: minimize dust damage
  • Reduce weeding
  • Reduce labour costs
  • Maintain optimum conditions to prevent Persimilis mites
  • Moisture is maintained where it counts.

The promise of technical superiority: 

  • Pressure regulated sprinklers maintain uniform flow across a broad range of pressures
  • Large water passage resists clogging
  • Drop down bug-proof plate prevents entry of insects
  • Everspin bearing promotes long lasting performance
  • Self-flushing diaphragm. 

The strawberry success story

When Xolani Gumede announced his decision to farm strawberries, his wife Yoliswa, thought he was mad. It would be the first time that anyone had attempted to grow strawberries commercially on the KZN coast – and everyone had told Xolani that Ballito was the wrong place for them. But Xolani believed that given the right tools to create the right conditions, the strawberries “would not know they were in Ballito.”

For Xolani, with a Masters in Project Management and a couple of successful businesses already under his belt, the decision was not taken lightly – it was no whim of the moment but rather based on years of hard work, research and careful planning.

In 2009, Xolani did a short course on hydroponics and greenhouse farming. Then he focused on intensive analysis and research – research which took him all over the world. He wanted a small crop of high value. Several things had to be considered: proximity to markets; a product that was light for air transport; proximity to the airport; cost of the land; the climate; the right variety to match the climate; barriers to entry and ease of growth, etc. There are over 600 varieties of strawberries which are members of the rose family. 

After endless challenges and steep learning curves, Xolani is going into his third year of successful operation. The strawberries are grown hydroponically in 80 tunnels 60m long by 8m wide, and grown substrate rather than in the ground. They are watered and fed nutriments via a sophisticated, strictly controlled automated system. “With the technology we have at our disposal,” Xolani says “you can grow anything.”  

At Netafim, we know this better than anyone. We’re proud to be helping so many farmers realise their dreams and manage their businesses better. We work to balance and preserve the earth’s two most precious commodities: water and food. Maintaining our position at the forefront of technology, innovation and customer service means remaining fully committed to our clients and their vision. They are not only our hope for the future but our motivation to surpass our standards year after year.

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