In this column, VegNET – South Australia Regional Development Officer Yanyu Liang provides an update on recent SA vegetable industry activities. These have ranged from topics such as on farm biosecurity and managing the risk of on-farm pests and diseases to business health check assessments for growing operations.

Extension events

Dr Cathryn Todd from PIRSA-SARDI speaks to attendees at the second Peri-urban Biosecurity Pilot Program workshop.

VegNET SA assisted AUSVEG representatives to deliver the second biosecurity and pest and disease R&D workshops (see cover image). These were held at the SA Produce Market on 9 September.

At the workshop, Dr Cathryn Todd from The South Australian Research and Development Institute – a branch of Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA-SARDI) – introduced the horticultural diagnostic service from SARDI.

If you missed out on attending, you still have a chance to access the free pest and disease diagnostics service by January 2022. Please contact Dr Todd on 08 8429 2249 for further information. You can also contact VegNET – SA Regional Development Officer Yanyu Liang to request a sample submission form.

Greenhouse toolkit now available

To ensure good on-farm biosecurity practices on the Northern Adelaide Plains, AUSVEG SA has a longstanding partnership with Biosecurity SA to deliver the ‘Clean Your Farm’ project.

The Clean Your Farm initiative aims to raise awareness of key sources of risk for vegetable pests and diseases, as well as help growers to better protect their products and income.

The latest version of the Greenhouse Biosecurity Toolkit is available to access through the AUSVEG SA website. This is translated in English and Vietnamese.

This toolkit has been developed by Biosecurity SA and AUSVEG SA and aims to assist vegetable growers to identify biosecurity threats, implement biosecurity planning and management practices and protect their business against external threats.

The resource includes step-by-step checklists and guidance on practical measures that growers can take to protect their properties against pest and disease threats.

If you would like to know more information about the project or would like a hard copy of the toolkit, please contact VegNET SA RDO Yanyu Liang on 0432 742 896 or PIRSA Biosecurity SA on 08 8207 7820.

Business health check assessment

In September, AUSVEG SA engaged experienced not-for-profit rural financial advisory service Rural Business Support to provide a series of business health checks for SA vegetable producers.

The goal of this program is to attain an assessment of current skills and capabilities in the industry, but also provide the opportunity for growers to assess their current skills and activities as a means of promoting improvement in their businesses and encouraging access to available financial support.

The process included delivery of an induction workshop for program participants, completion of 10 site business health checks with SA vegetable growing businesses using a specialised checklist questionnaire developed for this project and the development of individual business reports for each business summarising key findings and opportunities for future improvement.

Some insights from the assessments were addressed through this program. One of the main issues identified across the assessments is that most owners see themselves as ‘growers’ and that is where their skills set lays and their passion. They see managing the business as important, but also as a secondary task.

The business health check assessments have been beneficial in taking stock of some of the issues within vegetable businesses in SA and identifying key issues for growers to work on. AUSVEG SA and the VegNET SA project will continue to engage with these growers to provide ongoing support for those who are motivated to keep making improvements to their business.

Find out more

Please contact VegNET SA RDO Yanyu Liang on 0432 742 896 or email yanyu.liang@ausveg.com.au, or AUSVEG SA CEO Jordan Brooke-Barnett on 0404 772 308 or email jordan.brooke-barnett@ausveg.com.au.

VegNET 3.0 is a strategic levy investment under the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund.

This project has been funded by Hort Innovation using the vegetable research and development levy and contributions from the Australian Government.

Project Number: VG21000