Orchardists could turn to golf grass

Sports turf consultant advises on possible orchard grass improvements


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DRIVE: Could nut orchards take some lessons from sports turf consultants? One industry thinks it can. Photo: Rachael Webb

DRIVE: Could nut orchards take some lessons from sports turf consultants? One industry thinks it can. Photo: Rachael Webb

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Orchard grass has the potential for improvement, says a turf expert.

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IT'S unlikely macadamia growers will be trading in quad-bikes for golf carts.

Nor will they be swapping jeans for chequered trousers with a white belt, any time soon.

They may, however, be stealing a few tips from other aspects of the game with the small white ball in the hope of improving harvest rates.

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The practice of growing grass that helps prop up a golf ball on a golf course could be adapted by the macadamia industry to assist with nut harvesting.

Put simply, if a nut sits higher on the blades of grass, it's easier to pick up.

The Australian Macadamia Society has engaged a sports turf consultant to help advise on ways to improve orchard grass inter-rows.

Founder of Australian Sports Turf Consultants, Matt Roche, spoke at an AMS MacGroup meeting in February, outlining some of the grass varieties and possibilities.

GREEN: Founder of Australian Sports Turf Consultants, Matt Roche, says macadamia orchards could benefit from improved grass selection and coverage.

GREEN: Founder of Australian Sports Turf Consultants, Matt Roche, says macadamia orchards could benefit from improved grass selection and coverage.

"It's all about trying to get away from bare ground," Mr Roche said.

Healthy grass coverage improves farm aspects such as soil moisture retention, mulching, sediment run-off reduction and erosion.

Mr Roche said it wasn't about trying to turn orchards into turf farms but perhaps giving other varieties a go.

He said the zoysia range of grasses could potentially suit nut farms with their upright blades and high tolerance to wear.

A 2008 report by the NSW Department of Primary Industries found that after considerable research, smothergrass (Dactyloctenium australe) was the most suitable species for macadamia orchards.

Some of the factors considered were the need for the grass to be shade tolerant and low growing.

It also was also preferred to require little mowing in harvest season while withstanding orchard traffic and allowing for mechanical harvesting to work effectively.

However the report admits that the "easiest surface to harvest from is bare soil".

"It is more difficult to harvest from smothergrass but there are some things you can do to improve its harvest ability," the report said.

The story Orchardists could turn to golf grass first appeared on Good Fruit & Vegetables.

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