Extension update from Wide Bay-Burnett
In this edition, VegNET Regional Development Officer Andrew Halpin provides an update on the issues affecting the Wide Bay-Burnett region, along with the project activities being undertaken. These include an ag forum and trials that are looking at temperature and GPS data to help understand why losses occur in the supply chain.
The 2022 growing season is well-underway and is looking to be a particularly promising, with the earlier summer rains delivering revised allocations to the region’s growers.
Most growers are now back to their full allocations, which allows them to have confidence in their autumn and winter crops.
COVID-19 is still affecting farm operations in the region, with worker isolations creating staffing issues over the past few months. Added to this is the shortage of seasonal workers – including the lack of international travellers to help fill the gap in the employment market.
Growers are continuing to struggle to find enough workers to harvest their produce, with many growers paying well above award wage to maintain the workers they currently employ.
These factors – along with the changes to the piece rate award – has many farmers tackling a number of issues to ensure their produce makes it to market.
Input costs have been a major concern for growers during the first few months of 2022, with diesel, fertilisers and chemicals all increasing to record price highs, while produce market prices remain virtually unchanged during this same period.
Ag forum success
Bundaberg Fruit & Vegetable Growers and the VegNET – Wide Bay-Burnett project appeared at Agrotrend, which was held in Bundaberg.
BFVG supported Agrotrend’s AgForum event, which featured nine panellists covering two important topics affecting the region’s horticultural growers.
The forum was well-supported, with around 80 delegates in attendance. The two sessions held on the opening day discussed ‘Water – technology, efficiency and managing your resource’ followed by ‘Agricultural investments – trends and opportunities’.
Both sessions had lively discussions between the panellists and attendees, and was a great opportunity for everyone involved to broaden their knowledge.
VegNET 3.0 trials begin
The first trial for VegNET – Wide Bay- Burnett has growers in the region taking part in a program focused on real-time temperature and GPS tracking of their produce – from farmgate to the metropolitan distribution centres.
The information obtained will enable growers to assess any issues that may arise in the cold chain, from their packaging facilities to wholesaler distribution.
Data will be collected from several different growers, with a range of produce including capsicums, eggplant, zucchinis, lettuce, cucumber, snow peas and sweetcorn.
The trial is being conducted in partnership with the device company Escavox. The Sydney-based company is also partnering with Central Queensland University in a similar study, with all parties agreeing to share data to enable a larger data set recovery.
This information will give growers, transport and wholesalers a better understanding of the challenges industry faces, and to ensure a lower percentage of post-harvest loss occurring in the supply chain.
VegNET – Wide Bay-Burnett Regional Development Officer (RDO), Andrew Halpin, will be attending the Hort Connection conference in June, where he will meet with industry and growers over the course of the week.
He will also meet with the other VegNET RDOs for meetings and training to assist him in delivering the best outcomes for the Wide Bay-Burnett region.
Find out more
If you would like to take part in one of the Wide Bay-Burnett VegNET trials – or have an issue you would like to discuss with your VegNET RDO – please contact Andrew Halpin on 0407 366 797 or email email@example.com.
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
Cover image: Water panellists and attendees take part in an ag forum held at Bundaberg’s 2022 AgroTrend event. AgForum 2022 was funded by VegNET – Wide Bay Burnett in collaboration with other stakeholders.