We get asked a number of questions at the Moora Chamber of Commerce. One recent question was, “Why do we hold Sundowners?”
On March 11, the twenty-four members who took a Sundowner bus trip out to AGRIFresh packaging shed, and then on to Moora Citrus orchards and water infrastructure were given a clear example of the worth of these events. The assurance exhibited by these businesses, their confidence in our area, and their willingness to invest in a long term future operation gave enormous confidence to the business people attending.
The AGRIFresh team had put in considerable planning for our visit, going as far as to move all their palleted fruit boxes into a themed and colour-coordinated conference room for us. We were treated to a historical precis behind the AGRIFresh story, with videos showing growth in the domestic and export markets AGRIFresh have sought over their 16 years.
The energy, innovation and drive of the team leading AGRIFresh is an inspiration. The technological excellence used on all levels of operation is such that we all expected to encounter James Bond’s Q huddled somewhere in the packing shed.
A tour of the 8000 sqm packaging shed was enough to almost silence us all. The investment in technology was spectacular, to say the least. Each orange is imaged over 20 times PER ORANGE on it’s journey through the packaging process. The quality control process covering everything from colour to shape to sweetness is exceptional.
The tour was completed in the mango packaging section, which has seen over 30,000 trays of top-quality mangoes sent out to the domestic market this year. It was murder walking through fragrance a la Mango!
Question time was catered for by afternoon high tea courtesy of AGRIFresh – completed by a large tray of pre-cubed fresh mango.
Moora Citrus initially welcomed members in to their main workshop, where a computerised map of the entire orchard was able to be manipulated to see orchard plans, citrus varieties, watering rates, ground moisture records from probes and much more than that. A walk through one of the blocks closest by with Manager Andy Hinton gave us a tiny glimpse in to the intricacies of orchard management.
The trees have trace elements sprayed on to the leaves, not dripped on to the roots, and they have sunscreen sprayed over the leaves and baby fruit. Who knew? Each tree averages between 20 to 100 litres of water per tree per day. When you consider there’s 160,000 trees to pulse feed several times a day, that’s a lot of water. You do the sums.
Water harvesting from the 3350 m plus deep bores is a meticulous and incessant operation. The bores are run at night to reduce power use, and the incoming water enters the dams through a stainless steel grating system to sift out the heavy iron loads found in our regional ground water tables. At regular intervals, spade loads of iron is shovelled out of the bottom of this device. Despite the care taken to reduce iron loads in the water, it is a full time operation keeping the reticulation from blocking.
The evening concluded with a barbecue at the workshop, where during question time, Andy informed us that his background was mushroom farming.
The overwhelming message of the day was one of professionalism. We all came home quite thoughtful, and with a renewed vigour to better ourselves, and our businesses. A successful Sundowner, indeed.