Hort Innovation launches smart production systems fund

Hort Innovation has launched a multi-million-dollar smart production systems fund, set to benefit all horticultural growers through investment in projects that increase farm productivity through greater crop intensification, protection and disruption.

The Advanced Production Systems Fund will comprise investments aiming to deliver outcomes in the following areas:

  • Farm automation such as robotics, sensors and mechanisation
  • Plant genetics that employ next generation genomics and other platform technologies
  • Data integration that improves decision making through real-time, reliable crop data
  • Intensive farming through ultra-high-density cropping and advanced protected cropping systems
  • Accessing or developing superior planting materials including rootstocks and cultivars with exceptional characteristics

This fund comes in the wake of the opening of the nation’s first Horticulture Innovation Centre for Field Robotics and Intelligent Systems at the University of Sydney, which is home to more than $10 million in robotics and autonomous technology investment.

The fund is part of Hort Frontiers, a strategic partnership initiative developed by Hort Innovation that addresses the biggest challenges facing the future of Australian horticulture.


Potato feature article

Extended surveillance for TPP incursions in eastern Australia by the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture

The Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) is coordinating a national surveillance program for tomato potato psyllid (TPP), which was discovered in Western Australia in February 2017. The project Surveillance of tomato potato psyllid in the Eastern States and South Australia (MT16016) is a strategic levy investment under the Hort Innovation Vegetable, Potato – Fresh and Potato – Processing Funds.

TIA has been operating a surveillance program for adult TPP in processing potato crops in eastern Australia since 2011 using yellow sticky traps. This program will be intensified in the 2017/18 growing season to encompass all host crops in the family Solanaceae across the nation. Surveillance for TPP will help to support state requirements in providing evidence of area freedom of this pest to preserve export markets.

TIA invites industry stakeholders to participate in the surveillance program by placing sticky traps in TPP susceptible crops and returning them to TIA to check the presence of the pest. TIA will provide this service free of charge and supply reply-paid envelopes for returning traps.

If you would like to be involved in this program, please contact Raylea Rowbottom on 0428 745 752, email raylea.rowbottom@utas.edu.au or go to the TIA website for more information.

MT16016 is funded by Hort Innovation using the vegetable, potato – fresh and potato – processing research and development levies and contributions from the Australian Government. Hort Innovation is the grower-owned, not-for-profit research and development corporation for Australian horticulture.


Vegetable feature article

VegWHS – Workplace health & safety on vegetable farms

Vegetable businesses now have a resource package that helps to efficiently address all their workplace health and safety (WHS) needs, thanks to the VegPRO program, which is a strategic levy investment under the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund.

The VegWHS USB contains everything vegetable growers need to know and do to maintain WHS on their growing operations, as well as all essential forms. Suitable for all business sizes, this USB provides the tools you need to ensure your business and employees are working safely.

If you’re a levy-paying vegetable grower and you don’t already have a VegWHS USB, contact VegPRO Coordinator Sophie Lapsley on 0426 200 996 or at sophielapsley@rmcg.com.au.

For more information on the VegWHS resource package, please see VegPRO’s flyer about the USB. You can also watch videos that will take you through how to use the VegWHS tools to make your business safer on the VegPRO website.



New AHR video – The Australian vegetable industry invests in robotics

Applied Horticultural Research (AHR) has produced a new series of videos communicating research and development outcomes and giving growers practical information about important on-farm processes as part of the strategic levy investment project VegNET, which is part of the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund.

The RIPPA (Robot for Intelligent Perception and Precision Application) on-farm.

In AHR’s video The Australian vegetable industry invests in robotics, leaders in the field of robotics demonstrate the latest developments in robotics for vegetable producers.

The name ‘robotics’ encompasses a whole spectrum of technologies, from mechatronics to artificial intelligence. Robotics means labour-saving tasks – for example, weeding that uses a system that can discriminate crops from weeds by colour. Such systems can operate continuously. This is not science fiction: the technology is in the pipeline and the user timeframe is in the next few years.

To watch this video, please click here.



Regional Fair Work compliance workshops – Northern Territory

Growcom is hosting an upcoming series of workshops to help Northern Territory growers ensure they understand their legal requirements under Australia’s Fair Work laws and to help them get the right systems and records in place to meet all their obligations.

The workshops, to be held in Darwin and Katherine, will be delivered by Growcom Workplace Relations Advisor Annabel Hutch and Horticulture Workplace Relations Specialist Donna Mogg, and will include:

  • a risk assessment activity for growers to ‘stress test’ their compliance with Fair Work requirements;
  • an introduction to the Hort360 Workplace Relations module;
  • ideas for managing tricky issues such as poor performance, inappropriate conduct, disputes, or termination of employment;
  • tips for dealing with labour hire contractors and avoiding claims against your business; and
  • issues raised by the Fair Work Ombudsman that need to be addressed in horticulture businesses.

Time/date: 11:00am – 3:00pm (ACST), Tuesday 15 August 2017
Location: Sevenfields Packing Shed, 33 Gillard Crescent, Cossack NT
More information

Time/date: 11:00am – 3:00pm (ACST), Thursday 17 August 2017
Location: Shop 15A, Coolalinga Shopping Centre, 460 Stuart Highway, Coolalinga NT
More information

Interested growers can register by e-mailing NT Farmers or calling Growcom on 07 3620 3844.

These workshops are made possible by the Fair Farms Initiative, which is supported by the Fair Work Ombudsman through the Community Engagement Grants Program.


Spray application workshops – Victoria

Two spray application and efficacy workshops will be held in Victoria during August by Syngenta and the VegNET projects, which are strategic levy investments under the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund.

The workshops will provide the latest advice and information on spray equipment and chemical application to get the most out of your chemicals.

Date: Wednesday 16 August
Time: 4:00pm – 6:30pm (AEST)
For further information, see the event flyer. To RSVP, contact Shayne Hyman at shayne.hyman@eastgippslandfoodcluster.com.au

Date: Thursday 17 August
Time: 4:00pm – 7:00pm (AEST)
For further information, see the event flyer. To RSVP, contact Carl Larsen at carll@rmcg.com.au.

Hear from Scott Mathew (Senior Solutions Development Lead with Syngenta Australia) during these interactive sessions, which include field demonstrations and a free BBQ dinner. There are limited places, so secure your registration today!



Economic update: The changing face of vegetable waste

The amount of fresh vegetables produced but not consumed, and instead discarded as waste, is under the media spotlight. This focus has elevated the profile of how waste is managed in the fresh produce industry, and what is currently being done.

In general, this discarded product has previously been viewed as a cost of production and handling by the supply chain. However, this approach is now increasingly being viewed as irresponsible and more initiatives are underway to utilise this latent resource.

In particular, previously discarded product is now being used as an ingredient in powders, concentrates and juices. Techniques such as fermenting, drying, baking and high-pressure processing (or HPP) are being explored as ways to transform vegetable waste into ingredients for higher value products. Even composting techniques have advanced past reducing the bulk to minimise landfill impact to now extracting nutrients for use in animal stockfeed products. This dynamic has reduced the costs of removing waste, as competition has increased for what is now considered a resource input.

As consumer views on waste receive more coverage, questions about specifications are being raised. Supply chain stakeholders are now asking what constitutes a shoulder grade, and whether that reflects actual consumer demand. The success of ‘ugly’ fruits and vegetables is a clear signal that some consumers welcome the chance to buy this grade of product, although the impact on market values remains uncertain.

The implications for growers are centred on the favourable outcome of improving their saleable value per tonne produced. Commercial motives are driving ways to add and capture value from what was once considered vegetable waste, and the challenge for growers is to stay informed and support these initiatives.

This article was provided by Freshlogic as part of a strategic levy investment under the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund.



SPONSORED: Safety Ready Program – Course for growers

Safe Ag Systems is offering a program for growers to assess their growing operation’s overall safety and their readiness for managing a safe system of work.

As detailed in this Safe Ag Systems flyer, agriculture accounts for almost one quarter of all workplace fatalities in Australia. These fatalities have a massive human cost, and it is vital that all industry members work to make sure their farms are safe places to live and work.

This course, to be taken at participants’ own pace, will take growers through a self-assessment of their safety readiness, modules on understanding their safety risks and how to implement a safe system of work, and a final self-assessment of their farm safety knowledge and compliance readiness.

For more information, please see Safe Ag Systems’ flyer, call Safe Ag Systems on 08 8490 0939 or visit the Safe Ag Systems website.

InfoVeg TV – New episodes now live!

Two new episodes of InfoVeg TV are now live on the AUSVEG YouTube channel.

Both episodes feature a step-by-step guide on how to use the new-look InfoVeg Database, with one video focusing on vegetable levy-funded reports, and another on potato levy-funded reports.

The videos will enable users to gain an understanding of how to search for levy-funded reports, tools, fact sheets and more.

To view the InfoVeg Database – Vegetable edition, please click here. To view the InfoVeg Database – Potato edition, please click here.

For all past episodes of InfoVeg TV, please click here.

Communication of levy-funded R&D is funded by Hort Innovation using the vegetable and fresh potato research and development levies and contributions from the Australian Government. Hort Innovation is the grower-owned, not-for-profit research and development corporation for Australian horticulture.


Webinar: Nematodes in vegetable soils

Join nematode specialist Dr Sarah Collins from the Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development for this engaging webinar on nematodes in vegetable soil – managing the bad and good ones.

This webinar will initially focus on the pest nematode, outlining the life cycles of the root-knot and root-lesion nematodes and how this can be used to target control measures.

The webinar will also touch on the beneficial free-living nematodes, discussing how these can be managed and used as soil health indicators.

Date: Tuesday 19 September 2017
Time: 12:30pm – 1:30pm (AEST)

Click here to register for the webinar, which is delivered by project VG15010 A multi-faceted approach to soil borne disease management, part of the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund.

Webinar: Green peach aphid resistance management

Green peach aphids (GPA) are an important pest of vegetables, causing damage by feeding and transmitting viruses.

High levels of resistance to carbamates, pyrethroids and organophosphates are found across Australia. Low levels of resistance to neonicotinoids have also been observed in some GPA populations.

This webinar will outline a strategy to manage insecticide resistance in GPA populations for vegetable growers, which involves rotating different chemical groups, and using alternative methods (such as IPM) to manage pest and virus loads.

Join the ICP project team and guest presenter Dr Siobhan de Little from cesar Australia for this interactive session.

Date: Thursday 24 August 2017
Time: 12:30pm – 1:30pm (AEST)

Click here to register for the webinar.

To find out more about the Soil Wealth and ICP projects visit the website, or join the Community of Practice online. You can also follow the projects on Twitter @SoilWealth and @ProtectingCrops. These projects are strategic levy investments under the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund.


Working Holiday Maker survey for growers

NSW Farmers are conducting a survey on the use of the Working Holiday Maker program, including its use as a labour source and the practical operation of the allowance for backpackers to qualify for a second visa term through undertaking work in specific regional industries.

All growers are invited to take part in this survey and provide feedback on the program to help NSW Farmers form a position on labour sourcing and use in the Australian agriculture industry.

To participate in the survey, please click here. For more information, please contact NSW Farmers.

Webinar recording: Precision agriculture technology in vegetable production systems

Precision agriculture uses a combination of new technology and existing agronomic knowledge to maximise farm efficiency.

This webinar explored the current and future precision agriculture technology in the horticulture sector, and more specifically how these relate to vegetable production systems. Guest presenters included the Queensland Department of Agriculture & Fisheries, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture and ag-tech company The Yield.

Watch the recording of this one-hour interactive session facilitated by the National Vegetable Extension Network (VegNET) projects in Victoria (north, west and south-east regions) and Tasmania, which are strategic levy investments under the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund.


ATO targeting illegal phoenix labour hire firms

The agriculture industry is heavily affected by illegal phoenix labour hire firms deliberately going into liquidation, leaving debts behind, harming honest contractors and ripping off workers by not paying their entitlements and super.

Illegal phoenix activity occurs when a company has been deliberately liquidated to avoid paying its debts, including taxes, creditors and employee entitlements, and then continues to operate under a new company name.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Phoenix Taskforce are currently targeting illegal phoenix businesses to protect honest businesses and workers in the agriculture industry.

If a business uses a labour hire firm operating under a phoenix structure to hire their staff, they could be liable for the company’s debts and may face criminal sanctions. For more information on the signs of illegal phoenix activity and how to protect yourself, please see the ATO’s website.

If you suspect a labour hire firm is promoting illegal phoenix activity, you can report suspicious behaviour by completing an online tax evasion reporting form, emailing phoenix@ato.gov.au, or calling 1800 060 062.


Minor use permits

Permit ID Description Dates in operation Permit holder States
PER82895 Active: Chlorothalonil

This permit covers a range of fungal diseases in leafy, bulb, root and tuber, fruiting and legume vegetables and herbs. For full details, please search the APVMA website.

Hort Innovation All states except VIC
PER81271 (V2) Actives: Simazine, cyanazine, ioxynil, propachlor, ethofumesate, oxyfluorfen, pendimethalin
Crops: Leeks and garlic
Pests: Grass and broadleaf weeds, hogweed
Growcom All states except VIC

All efforts have been made to provide the most current, complete and accurate information on permits. However, AUSVEG recommends that you confirm the details of any permits at the APVMA website.

Users are advised that while the pesticide can be applied legally under the APVMA minor use permit, there can be a significant delay until the maximum residue limit (MRL) gazetted by the APVMA is adopted in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

Until this occurs the MRL may not be recognised and a zero tolerance may be imposed for residues of the pesticide resulting from its use according to the APVMA permit.

Please be aware that in the absence of a MRL in the Food Standards Code, the use of the pesticide according to the permit may result in the suspension of the produce in the marketplace. Please check the FSANZ website or the Australian Government ComLaw website to confirm if there are MRLs established by the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

Please consult APVMA documentation before applying any product to your crop. For more information contact the APVMA on (02) 6210 4701 or Growcom on (07) 3620 3880.

If an adverse experience occurs as a result of using the permit, please fill out a Non-Performance Reporting Form for Horticultural Pesticides and return to jodie.pedrana@horticulture.com.au. To download a Non-Performance Reporting Form for Horticultural Pesticides, please click here.



Hort Innovation project opportunities

Project code Project title Closing date
VG17002 Foodservice education around vegetable usage in older adult populations 5pm (Sydney time)
Thursday 31 August 2017

Hort Innovation advertises opportunities to become a delivery partner on research, development and marketing projects for Australian horticulture on its website and on tenders.net.

Join Hort Innovation’s delivery partner mailing list to receive email notifications of new opportunities by registering through its Delivery partner registration form.

The relevant documentation for each opportunity is available on tenders.net. To access this information, you will need to become a member by registering on the tenders.net registration page.



AUSVEG National Manager – Export Development Michael Coote appeared on radio this week welcoming the launch of Hort Innovation’s trade push for Australian fresh produce, including Australian vegetables. AUSVEG welcomed the Taste Australia campaign launch last week, noting that it will help to solidify Australian produce’s premium position in key export markets.