The VegNET – Wide Bay-Burnett project continues to deliver local trials and workshops to vegetable growers across the region, which spans hundreds of kilometres north of Brisbane. VegNET – Wide Bay-Burnett Regional Development Officer Bree Grima provides a summary.

The Wide Bay-Burnett region has remained relatively open for business throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and our thoughts are with the regions heavily impacted by lockdowns.

While it’s been business as usual, producers have been impacted by the rising cost of inputs and labour shortages – placing continual pressure on the bottom line. As Regional Development Officers, we often find ourselves in a counselling position by accident and support can take many forms during these challenging and changing times.

This could simply be an ear to listen to, providing information from the latest R&D to assist with increasing productivity and profitability, or providing the link between grower and researchers to ensure research is focused on commercial applicability.

A hive of activity

The Wide-Bay Burnett region has had an influx of trials and workshops in the past couple of months.

A recent workshop was held for a small group of growers to provide practical information on the best times to apply systemic and non-systemic products, and how they affect the plant at various growth phases. This was well-received by attendees.

We have seen ag tech trials investigating drone spraying of protected cropping structures as well as soil management programs – all working towards increased knowledge within the main key themes of pest management, water use efficiency, waste management and increasing productivity.

In addition to this, we celebrated the opening of the Bundaberg AgTech Hub that will focus on ag tech products and connect producers with cutting edge agricultural technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, traceability programs and more.

One business focusing on this space is OzTech Drones based in Bundaberg, which is working with local vegetable producers to find innovative uses for drone applications in horticulture. These include spraying lay flat hose lines with herbicides; increasing visibility of the lines; and reducing crop loss from machinery traffic.

Celebrating industry achievements

The future for the region is exciting. It is home to more than 1,900 agricultural properties with a vegetable industry valued at more than $212 million.

From small and medium sized entities to large corporate agribusinesses, the Wide Bay-Burnett area is a powerhouse of agricultural output and provides around 25 percent of Queensland’s fresh produce.

The local industry regularly celebrates our producers and acknowledges their achievements, and we were excited to see local farming family, Attard Family Farms, nominated as a finalist for the Exporter of the Year Award at the recent Queensland Horticulture Export Award. You can read more about the family here.

Continuing the theme of award nominations, I was honoured to be named as a finalist in the Boomaroo Nurseries Women in Horticulture award at the recent Hort Connections conference.

My name was proudly alongside several amazing women that contribute to the industry, including Sue Jenkins – a citrus grower from Mundubbera (also located within the Wide Bay-Burnett region).

Here at Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers, we’re committed to supporting the region’s growers: celebrating the wins, learning from the challenges, and generating an environment in which regional agribusinesses can thrive.

Find out more

Please contact Bree Grima at or phone the BFVG office on 07 4153 3007.

VegNET – Wide Bay-Burnett 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: VG19009

Cover image: Drone spraying a lay flat irrigation hose in a sweetpotato crop. Image courtesy of the Soil Wealth ICP project.