The VegNET RDO role is varied and aims to help growers develop a more sustainable, healthy business.  

A recent drone demonstration in Victoria run by VegNET Gippsland highlighted the role a VegNET regional development officer (RDO) plays in bringing information and knowledge to the local grower community. 

Organised by Gippsland RDO Emily Scott, based with Food and Fibre Gippsland, the recent drone spraying demonstration night aimed to give growers a firsthand look at the technology and how it can be applied on farm. 

Hosted on the Middle Tarwin property of third-generation growers Schreurs & Sons, the drone demonstration was sponsored by Syngenta and E.E. Muir & Sons. The event demonstrated that spraying can be achieved without disturbance to soil and crops. In turn, the potential for greater efficiencies in chemical use and labour, as well as a safer operating environment for workers and disease management was highlighted. 

VegNET Gippsland RDO, Emily Scott organised a drone spraying demo for growers

“As a VegNET RDO, my role is to help growers in any way they want to be helped and provide them with the resources they need,” said Emily.

“Gippsland growers had a tough summer, with significant rain events that put a lot of crops at risk. Using a drone means that nutrients can still be delivered to crops when it is unsafe for workers and tractors to be in the field. It has been a catalyst for growers to learn more about drone technology.” 

Events form a cornerstone for VegNET RDOs to bring together growers and industry partners to increase knowledge and awareness of the latest R&D and technology, and to give an opportunity for networking and learning. 

VegNET National Coordinator Cherry Emerick says that each RDO works with their regional partners and Regional Extension Advisory Group (REAG) annually to review and determine what the priorities are for the coming year as well as leaving scope for unforeseen issues such as biosecurity risks. 

“Each region is different, with different issues. As a group, we see ourselves as a knowledge broker and conduit between R&D and the grower,” says Cherry. 

Cherry Emerick, National VegNET Coordinator

“Events such as the drone demonstration night are about getting growers together to showcase how AgTech can enhance their business with the opportunity to speak with suppliers and other growers who have made the investment. We aim to support them, listen and deliver greater knowledge. A lot of growers spend time in their business, but not on it, so events like this are invaluable.” 

Host for the drone demonstration, Adam Schreurs, co-director of Schreurs & Sons at Middle Tarwin, said that hosting the event was in part to measure for himself the performance of drone spraying that the business had been running for two years, but also to give other growers an opportunity to see the system in use firsthand and ask questions of the experts. 

“I’ve been to quite a few VegNET field days and seminars, and find them valuable, you always learn something new to take back to the farm,” he said. 

“It might be a refresher of something you are already doing, or like the drones, new technology. It also gives growers a chance to socialise and learn from each other – the positives and the mistakes. 

“We will continue to look at drones on farm to minimise the machinery movement around the crops for disease management, as well as for worker safety. It’s a great system for spraying as far as I’m concerned.” 


Watch the YouTube video of the demo here.

VegNET 3.0 is a strategic levy investment under the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund. VG21000 

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