History helps open new doors

Busselton-based Jasper Farms is among Australia’s largest avocado producers, and is on track for further production growth.

The farm, which produces from August to February, boasts one of the country’s highest-yielding orchards, with about 500 hectares of trees under crop.

Steeped in history, success for the enterprise situated close to the tiny hamlet of Yoongarillup in Western Australia, didn’t happen overnight.

Yoongarillup itself is located on the Vasse Highway, approximately 11 kilometres from Busselton, and had been given to mixed agriculture (predominantly sheep, cattle and dairy farming) over many years — its name believed to be derived from the indigenous term for ‘where young kangaroos come down to drink.’

The area became part of the Group Settlement Scheme, an assisted migration program that operated in Western Australia immediately after World War I.

Targeting civilians and others who were otherwise ineligible for the Soldiers' Settlement Scheme, its principle purpose was to provide a labour force to open up large tracts of viable agricultural land, and ultimately reduce dependence on food imports. 

It was from these humble beginnings that winemakers such as Miguel Torrent and his wife and Aurora Toro (born in the Catalonian town of San Feliu De Guixols) helped put Yoongarillup on the map.

Today however, the region is better known as home to the avocado giant.

In January 2018, Jasper Farms made headlines in one of the biggest private business sales of the year, with buyers clambering for a slice of agriculture's ‘green gold’.

With a family background in broadacre farming, owners Neil (and brother Ian) Delroy initially ventured into carrots, however it was ‘avos’ that proved their worth.

An agriculturalist scientist by trade, Mr Delroy knew soil conditioning was a crucial building block to agricultural success, and quickly established a specialised grass platform to assist the fledgling property’s trees achieve growth and maturity.

Developing close research and development ties in Chile (where trees up to 90 years old can remain productive), Mr Delroy said the spade work has resulted in yields on Jasper Farms being double the national average. 

“I come from a research background and I read all the research papers.

“The emphasis is trying to put research into practice," Mr Delroy said.

It was during these early years, Mr Delroy met Benz Baek, managing director, of GreenTech International.

Keen to advance the future of the newly established farm, the pair sketched what Mr Baek describes as ‘a rough design of a spray machine’, the rest he says is history, with a solid business relationship formed.

Today, Jasper Farms belongs to Canada’s largest single-profession pension plan — Ontario Teachers' Pension Fund — with $207.4 billion in net assets.

With over 500 hectares of avocado trees producing more than one million trays per year, Ben Norrish general manager of Jasper Farms said GreenTech has been a key player in the farm’s development.

Providing spray systems to apply fungicides to the property’s taller trees, Mr Norrish said the GreenTech system was among the best on the market.

“The principle strength of the GreenTech product is that it produces the right droplets for obtaining the best spray coverage, offering excellent cost savings and reliability.

“With such a significant investment in avocados, we need to protect our trees so we can keep producing the highest quality fruit and meet the standards demanded by Australian consumers,” Mr Norrish said.

“The spray head technology was critical in our decision making process. 

“With our climate and associated pests and diseases, we needed to ensure the entire tree, including the very top of our 6.5 to 7 metre trees, would receive chemical application in the most efficient and cost effective way.

“GreenTech’s tall tree sprayer, with its unique design and electrical fan motors produce high air volume that is effective in applying chemicals to all our trees. 

“The power requirement to operate the fans is so low that I was also able to save on diesel fuel expenditure, while not having to worry about any potential hydraulic oil contamination to the crop.

“It was an excellent business decision.” 

Mr Norrish estimates that since using the GreenTech equipment, his spray and fuel costs have been significantly reduced while also losing fewer fruit thanks to better coverage.

With at least 2500 GreenTech sprayers in operation in Australia, New Zealand, South America, New Caledonia and the United States, Mr Baek says demand for proven crop protection solutions has never been higher.

“Demand for fresh produce in Australia and globally continues to rise. 

“With Australia being such a strong producer in the viticulture, horticulture, and agriculture sectors, significant investments in crops have been made that now need to be protected, “ said Mr Baek.

Working with such a diverse client base has allowed GreenTech to design and develop innovative technologies to meet customer demand, he said.

“We must develop, manufacture and deliver solutions that we know are of the highest quality. 

“This must always be the guiding principle of our business. 

“We will continue to build an even stronger brand and reputation, and as a consequence will continue to be the preferred choice in the market.”

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