A group of 11 young Australian vegetable growers has returned from a two-week industry leadership and development mission to New Zealand and California with a better understanding of the challenges that growers from around the world face in supplying fresh vegetables to their consumers, as well as new ideas on how to improve production practices back home.

The tour, led by AUSVEG, gave growers the chance to visit leading vegetable growers, researchers, agribusinesses and supermarkets in New Zealand’s North Island and California. As a strategic levy investment under the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund, this industry leadership and development mission had a strong focus on exposing the tour’s young participants to the latest innovations taking place in the global industry and extending their networks with some of the region’s leading vegetable producers.

After arriving in Wellington, the group travelled by bus to Otaki/Levin, Hawke’s Bay and Pukekohe growing regions, visiting some of the Island’s leading growers – big and small, conventional and organic.

The group was also treated to a presentation from Plant & Food Research New Zealand on research undertaken on disease suppressive soils and visited multiple supermarkets to inspect the quality of produce on display, with much of the produce on shelves coming from the growers had visited during the previous few days.

Check out some photos from the group’s visits throughout the tour, including leading growing operations on New Zealand’s North Island and in California in the United States of America.

After a busy week in New Zealand, the group travelled to Los Angeles, where it was able to tour the facilities of Toro’s Riverside factory to look at the latest in drip irrigation technology, before making its way to Bakersfield to visit two of the world’s leading carrot producers, Bolthouse Farms and Grimmway Farms.

After a day visiting farms in Bakersfield, the group travelled to Salinas, the Salad Bowl of America. While in Salinas, growers visited two major vegetable-growing operations, Rio Farms (as well as King City Nursery) and Tanimura and Antle. While at Tanimura and Antle, the group was fortunate enough to get a field demonstration of its PlantTape automated transplanting system. The group also received a presentation from the Western Growers Centre for Innovation and Technology on the ag-tech companies starting up in California that are working to combat the biggest issues facing growers in their region.

To round out the tour, the group also visited the Sacramento headquarters of leading agribusinesses Monsanto and Bayer Crop Science, where both companies provided the group with tours of their facilities and the opportunity to network with scientists to learn more about their products and the unique challenges facing growers in Australia.

More details on the tour will be detailed in an upcoming edition of Vegetables Australia, so keep an eye out for more information in the coming weeks!

A snapshot of New Zealand vegetable retail and some of the produce lines being offered in-store in New Zealand supermarkets.