This SA-created irrigation system cuts water usage by up to 70% - and is revolutionising orchards

Business Insider SA
Western Cape farmer Louis Louber next to his invention Tree Hog in an citrus orchard (supplied)
  • Tree Hog can cut an orchard’s water consumption by up to 70%, and reduces the need for weeding.
  • It is an injection-moulded plastic case with a micro sprinkler which encloses the base of a tree. 
  • It was developed by Western Cape farmer Louis Loubser in 2015, inspired by his mother's gardening. 

Tree Hog can cut an orchard’s water consumption by up to 70%, with minimum savings starting at 50%, says its inventor Louis Loubser, a farmer in Robertson in the Western Cape. 

The device is an injection-moulded plastic case with a micro sprinkler which encloses the base of a tree, and is designed to last up to eight years.

It combines the benefits of micro and drip irrigation.  

It is backed by one of the UK’s largest fresh fruit suppliers, Primafruit, and over 40,000 units have been distributed. 

“Tree Hog turns long hours of irrigating... into roughly twenty minutes,” Loubser told Business Insider South Africa. “It’s not difficult to do it, but you need to commit to it.”

The design of a typical Tree Hog (supplied)

Because Three Hog encloses the base of a tree, it drastically reduces typical evaporation, and keeps the soil temperature constant helping a young tree’s development. 

Unlike conventional drip irrigation systems, Tree Hog wets a much larger area at the base of a tree, helping the tree develop a strong root system. 

It also reduces the need for weeding around young trees. 

“At first farmers are all sceptical, but after a demonstration they are all believers,” says Loubser.

The sprinkler inside a Tree Hog which irrigates a tree. (primafruit)

Louber developed Tree Hog in 2015 after his farm suffered from severe water restrictions. 

“My mother decided to get some new plants for her garden, and I was furious,” Loubser says. 

“But, while she was planting, I noticed the sprinklers were already on in her garden, and I saw some of the planting pots were upside down in the bedding. That’s when it clicked!”

Citrus trees with Tree Hog devices (primafruit)

Louber, who produces the units via his company Louirrigate, believes the success of his invention lies in its simplicity. 

“I think our world focuses so much on new technology and how to make our lives easier, that what we forget about the basics,” he says. 

Louis is in the process of patenting Tree Hog globally, and says he has already started supplying to farmers elsewhere in Africa, and exporting to Europe and Australia.

He believes the product will improve agriculture across the world, and possibly expand agriculture to previously unusable land. 

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