Using water to combat difficult growing conditions

Fresh water continues to be a precious commodity in agriculture. While research suggests that the world’s available water will be enough for a growing population, this will only be the case if it is used efficiently and if better use is made of rainwater and soil moisture.
The Australian vegetable industry has a number of opportunities to increase the efficiency of its water use, including rainwater harvesting through building ponds and tanks, placing barriers to reduce surface runoff, mulching for enhanced soil water retention capacity, and low or no till agriculture.
Choosing appropriate crops for the season can also impact the overall water use of a farm, with the water absorption capacity and ideal cultivation density of particular crops affecting their efficiency at using soil moisture and making them more or less likely to survive a period of drought.
The EnviroNews section of the latest edition of Vegetables Australia includes more information on the use of water to combat difficult growing conditions, including an interview with Stockholm International Water Institute’s Senior Scientific Adviser Jan Lundqvist. To read this edition, please click here. To read all previous editions of Vegetables Australia, please click here.

The EnviroVeg program is funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia using the National Vegetable Levy and funds from the Australian Government.


New soil phosphorus test shows promise for potatoes

A new test for measuring phosphorus in soil is helping to deliver some significant cost savings and environmental benefits to Australia’s potato industry.
The project, Innovative Nutrient Management for the Australian Potato Industry, successfully proved that a new test for measuring phosphorus in the soil, the Diffusive Gradients in Thin-Films (DGT) test, was more accurate at predicting a yield response to applied phosphorus fertiliser in potatoes than currently used soil tests.
In particular, it improves on previous tests which have been shown to overestimate available phosphorus on certain soil types by measuring available phosphorus at more relevant chemical and physical conditions.
The project found that the majority of crops only need between 30-40kg/ha of phosphorus applied, based on removal rates, but standard industry applications were found to be 66-110kg/ha. Reducing rates in line with these findings could lead to cost savings of up to $250 per hectare based on current fertiliser prices.
This project was a joint initiative between Potatoes South Australia Inc and the South Australian Government, and was funded by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources National Landcare Innovation.
A full update on the development of the DGT test is available in The Front Line biosecurity section of the latest edition of Potatoes Australia magazine. To read this edition, please click here. To read all previous editions of Potatoes Australia, please click here.

This communication was funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia using the National Potato Levy and funds from the Australian Government.



Review of vegetable consumer data collection and analysis projects

Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited (Hort Innovation) is seeking grower feedback on the current vegetable consumer data collection and analysis projects ‘Consumer and market program for the vegetable industry‘, also known as Project Harvest (delivered by Colmar Brunton as part of projects VG12078 and VG14060), and ‘Baseline Demographic Research for the Vegetable Industry‘, also known as Homescan data (delivered by Nielsen as part of projects VG13088 and VG15019). This review will provide input to any future investment in vegetable consumer and market research projects funded by Hort Innovation using vegetable levy funds.
Growers are invited to complete a short, 10-minute survey to assist Hort Innovation in obtaining a broad industry view of the value of these data collection and analysis projects and how they may be improved. To take the survey, please click here. The survey will be open for contributions until midnight Sunday 18 September 2016. Your input will be of considerable value to your industry.

Growers who are registered for the InfoVeg database can access the levy-funded consumer and market data reports developed by Colmar Brunton and Nielsen on the AUSVEG website.

Vegetable consumer data collection and analysis is funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia using the National Vegetable Levy and funds from the Australian Government.



Weed control in vegetable crops webinar

Join a webinar brought to you by the Integrated Crop Protection team on weed management in vegetable crops.
The webinar will be presented jointly by leading weed researcher Dr Paul Kristiansen, University of New England, and expert weed practitioner Marc Hinderager from Applied Horticultural Research.
The format will be a 30-minute presentation followed by a question and answer session where you can ask the presenters questions directly.
This webinar will be held on Wednesday 14 September from 12:30pm – 1:30pm. To register, please click here.

This webinar will focus on:

  • Which weed species are causing greatest difficulty for vegetable growers?
  • What methods are being used to control weeds in vegetable crops, and with what success?
  • What lessons on weed management from other agricultural industries can be learned and applied?
  • Your questions answered: ask the panelists.

For more information, contact Marc Hinderager on 0409 082 012 or at To download an ICP fact sheet on weed control in vegetable crops, please click here.

The Integrated Crop Protection project is funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia using the National Vegetable Levy and funds from the Australian Government.



Australian growers showcase their products at Asia Fruit Logistica

Ten vegetable growers from across the country travelled to Hong Kong last week to display their produce at Asia Fruit Logistica and to create and strengthen business relationships in Hong Kong and other Asian markets in the region.
Australian vegetables on display at Asia Fruit Logistica 2016.
The Australian Vegetables stand at Asia Fruit Logistica formed part of the larger Australia Fresh pavilion, which was coordinated by Horticulture Innovation Australia and encompassed a wide range of Australian horticultural exhibitors under the one Australian banner.
The stand also incorporated cooking demonstrations from Australian chef Tim Hollands, showcasing to buyers and consumers the best methods of preparing Australian produce to take advantage of its freshness and great taste.
As part of the levy-funded trade mission, grower participants also visited a range of retailers, importers and wholesalers to gain a deeper understanding of the Hong Kong market and the opportunities for increasing Australian vegetable exports.

The Vegetable Industry Market Access and Development Program is funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia using the National Vegetable Levy and funds from the Australian Government.


AUSVEG grower biosecurity workshop

AUSVEG is coordinating a grower workshop covering the fundamentals of on-farm biosecurity and other plant pest and disease issues in the Sydney Basin area, to be held at the end of September.
Speakers at the workshop will include:

  • Dr Gordon Rogers (Applied Horticultural Research)
  • Dr Len Tesoriero (NSW Department of Primary Industries)
  • Andy Ryland (IPMC)
  • Dr Jessica Lye (AUSVEG)
  • Callum Fletcher (AUSVEG)

Time/date: 21 September 2016 at 1:00pm
Location: Gate 6, Sydney Field Vegetable Demonstration Farm, Southee Road, Richmond NSW

A free barbeque lunch will be provided to attendees from 12:00 noon. For more information on the workshop, please click here to view the flyer for the event. To register your interest in attending, please email or call (03) 9882 0277 by 14 September 2016.



New app to tell growers when plants need watering

Horticulture Innovation Australia (Hort Innovation) is joining forces with agriculture technology company The Yield to deliver a mobile app designed to help guide irrigation decisions.
The levy-funded app will be focussed on brassicas, carrots, lettuce and leafy vegetables and will help to remove some of the uncertainty growers face when deciding the best time to irrigate, and how much water may be needed.
The app will initially allow growers to enter a location, crop type and crop growth stage to get an estimate of their crop water use and soil water balance, and eventually allow growers to enter a planting date for their crops to receive crop-specific water balance predictions.
The app will also have the ability to draw from on-farm microclimate data and analytics where growers have on-farm sensors.
For more information, please click here.

This project is funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia using the National Vegetable Levy with co-investment from The Yield and funds from the Australian Government.


Achieving Fair Work compliance and managing employment risks

Free seminars are being held in various regional locations to help agricultural businesses achieve Fair Work compliance and better manage employment risks.
During these half-day seminars, attendees will undergo a risk assessment of their business, learn about their legal obligations under the Fair Work Act, National Employment Standards and relevant awards, and gather information and resources to help them with compliance and establishing positive practices in the workplace.

Dates and locations:

  • Goondiwindi – Wednesday 14 September 2016
  • Lockyer Valley – Wednesday 5 October 2016
  • Mareeba – Wednesday 12 October 2016
  • South Johnstone – Thursday 13 October 2016
  • Bundaberg – Thursday 27 October 2016
  • Bowen – Wednesday 9 November 2016
  • Charters Towers – Friday 11 November 2016
  • Gympie – Thursday 17 November 2016
  • Glass House Mountains – Friday 18 November 2016
  • Mackay – Wednesday 8 February 2017
  • Yeppoon – Tuesday 14 February 2017
  • Emerald – Wednesday 15 February 2017
  • St George – Wednesday 1 March 2017
  • Kingaroy – Wednesday 15 March 2017

To secure a place at these seminars, please visit Growcom’s website.

The Workplace Essentials Seminars 2016/17 are funded by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, sponsored by AustSafe Super, and supported by the Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network.


Levy payer register survey

Recent reviews and inquiries about agricultural levies have identified that improved consultation with levy payers is key to the ongoing strength of Australia’s rural R&D system. A Commonwealth Senate Committee inquiry into the systems and structures governing the imposition and collection of marketing and R&D levies found that the integrity of the agricultural levy system into the future rests on the fundamental principle of levy payer engagement.
Callida Consulting has been engaged by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to consult with levy payers, intermediaries, agents and rural research and development corporations (RDCs) that would like to be involved in a two-way conversation to ensure that levy payer registers are designed effectively.
As part of this consultation, which also includes a series of workshops, Callida has developed a survey for payers of agricultural levies (including the vegetable and potato levies) to gauge their attitudes towards the creation of a levy payer register.
To take this survey, please click here.



Draft National Standard for Certification of Australian Seed Potatoes available for industry comment

A draft of the revised National Standard for the Certification of Australian Seed Potatoes is now available for industry comment.
Over the past six months a small team has been consulting widely with industry to review the existing National Standard for Certification of Australian Seed Potatoes. The project will ensure that we have a Standard that meets world’s best practice. The seed certification system across Australia operates well and is well-recognised in the marketplace, and the process of review ensures that the industry stays current and up-to-date.
Consultation covered growers, processors, researchers, certification authorities and government agencies and included a substantial industry workshop.
Further industry comment is now sought. Interested parties can request a copy of the draft National Standard by contacting Anthony Kachenko from Horticulture Innovation Australia at Comments in relation to the standard can be submitted online at or simply send an email with your name and phone number and one of the consultants will be in touch.
This project is funded by the National Potato Levy and funds from the Australian Government.
Submissions on the draft standard close Friday 30 September 2016.

This project is funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia using the National Potato Levy and funds from the Australian Government.


Growers urged to take survey to help combat Queensland Fruit Fly

Commercial fruit and vegetable growers, and the community at large, have the opportunity to share their thoughts on the management of Queensland fruit fly (Qfly) as part of a new survey and help inform the future management of the pest.
The phone-based survey is part of the ongoing ‘SITplus’ initiative, a collaborative and multi-faceted project to fight Qfly involving Horticulture Innovation Australia, key government agencies and the country’s leading research organisations.
Targeting the Riverland, Sunraysia and Murray/Goulburn Valley regions, the survey is being run by CSIRO and will delve into the acceptance of and attitudes towards area wide management (AWM) of Qfly. AWM involves the coordination of pest-management approaches across all fly habitats within a set area – not just on commercial farms, but throughout the whole community.
The survey will also collect participants’ thoughts on the use of the sterile insect technique, which involves the release of sterile flies into the environment so that the wild population of flies cannot reproduce.
Growers who are interested in taking part in the research can register their telephone number by clicking here. They will be contacted during mid-September for the survey, which is expected to take approximately 25 minutes and can be scheduled for an appropriate time.
For more information on the SITplus partnership, please click here.

The SITplus initiative has been funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited with co-investment from Macquarie University, CSIRO, NSW Department of Primary Industries, SARDI/PIRSA, Plant and Food Research Australia, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (Agriculture Victoria) and funds from the Australian Government.


2017 RIRDC Rural Women’s Award

Applications for the 2017 Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) Rural Women’s Award are now open.
The Rural Women’s Award is Australia’s preeminent award for rural women. It recognises and supports emerging women leaders who have the potential to make a greater contribution to the primary industries and rural communities across the country.
The award offers a $10,000 bursary to each state and territory winner and provides the resources to bring to life a project or initiative that will benefit rural industries and communities.
For more information, please click here to visit the RIRDC’s website.


International plant health conference confirmed for Australia

In partnership with the Australasian Plant Pathology Society, the Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre will be presenting the global Science Protecting Plant Health 2017 conference. Featuring the latest science in plant protection, the conference (also called #SciPlant17) will be held in Brisbane over 26 – 28 September 2017.
Proposals for potential workshops to be held at the conference are now open, with abstracts opening 1 October 2016. There are also major sponsorship opportunities.
For more information on the conference, and to register your interest in attending, please click here.


AUSVEG in the media

AUSVEG National Manager – Export Development Michael Coote appeared on radio this week discussing the growth of exports in the Australian vegetable industry. Mr Coote noted that Australian exports to Hong Kong have grown to a value of over AUD$13 million in the past year.

Mr Coote also appeared in print media commenting on the recent granting of market access into Japan for Australian pumpkins and melons, saying that this new market presents a huge growth opportunity for Australian vegetable growers looking to export into a region that is increasingly calling for high-quality Australian vegetables.

AUSVEG also provided public comment this week on the delegation of Australian vegetable growers attending Asia Fruit Logistica in Hong Kong.

Communication of levy funded R&D activities is funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia using the National Vegetable Levy, National Potato Levy and funds from the Australian Government.