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Beware false economies

News - 10.02.22

Sometimes easy savings turn out to be false economies.


The temptation to find cost savings, especially in large capital investments such as a new orchard, can often be overwhelming.
On occasion, these bets against your better judgement can be worthwhile, but on any other day, the costs of making good what was not done properly, can outweigh the initial savings.

The cost of establishing a new orchard can be significant. Depending on the orchard design, species of tree and planting density, the initial investment is often in the region of £30,000/ha. Measures such as irrigation and hail nets can increase the cost by up to 70%.

The latest instance of a false economy came during a visit to a new orchard in the south of England. Plastic tree guards of the type usually used to protect hedgerow plantings rather than the recommended wire guards, were used to protect against rabbit damage. Although the damage to trunks may be limited to only a handful of trees, the time and expense this will incur will quickly erode the savings involved.

“Managers have to make decisions and often it is about balancing the trade-offs involved. Sometimes, these judgements come with a cautionary tale,” says Kevin Workman, head of fruit for crop advisers and trials specialists Agrii.

The price difference between the two types of guard is roughly 30 pence but, with two per tree and up to 3000 trees per hectare, the costs soon mount up. When margins are tight, the pressure to find savings can be intense.


“The saving was probably between 3 and 5% of the capital investment, but some of the trees affected won’t recover so will need replacing. Once the costs of this are considered and other pest protection measures are introduced, the savings will quickly be outweighed by additional expense,” says Mr Workman.

Unfortunately, such examples are not unique. Learning from such errors of judgement comes with experience, but it takes wisdom to avoid repeating them.
“Sometimes we just need saving from ourselves,” observes Mr Workman.

Sometimes easy savings turn out to be false economies, says Agrii


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