Nicky Mann said that Australia's protected plantation industry is at an extremely exciting time in its history. As the chairman of the board of Protected Cropping Australia and one of the managers of the family's fresh farm, her every day is closely related to gardening. In the past few years, she has witnessed the development and specialization of this industry. Protecting their crops, whether it is from large-scale weather events or pests and diseases, is the top priority for growers to help them serve the fast-growing market.
Growing crops in greenhouses Over the past five years, the Australian horticulture industry has grown rapidly in many areas. "Many growers of horticultural commodities are considering some type of protection above, around or below their crops, such as nets, hydroponics, substrates, plastic tunnels, retractable greenhouses, multi-span greenhouses, high-tech greenhouses and even indoors. Vertical farms. There is already a farm in New South Wales that grows avocados under a retractable greenhouse," Nicky said.
In particular, the production of soft fruits such as blueberries and raspberries, almonds, avocados, citrus and greenhouse-grown crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and eggplants has increased, especially snack tomatoes, snack cucumbers and snack peppers. "But there are also ginger, turmeric, dragon fruit, figs, cherries and more traditionally grown horticultural crops outdoors, under nets, plastic mulches, etc. Therefore, tissue culture, propagators and seedling nurseries must grow and grow accordingly. Become more complex and mechanized."
In addition, Australia’s medicinal cannabis production has surged. “During COVID, the growth of the horticulture and nursery industry, including flower production, is indeed booming, which is surprising after years of difficult transactions in the industry.”
According to Nicky, the fresh produce market has grown for many reasons. "Consumers must be more aware of the health benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables-the astonishing growth in consumption of blueberries, avocados and almonds is a direct result of marketing campaigns for the health benefits of these specific products. Consumers are particularly enthusiastic about blueberries, so Everyone started to grow blueberries, especially under tunnels and in the substrate, to harvest crops faster to meet the surge in demand for this highly antioxidant fruit, which also brought incredible profits to growers. However. , The supply of Australian blueberries has greatly improved, and prices have also dropped-so growers now need to improve efficiency and push their growth and viability to new heights."
She added that the Australian market is a bit lagging behind Europe, "but in order to bring more convenience to consumers, people are pushing for more fresh fruits and vegetables to add value, and pay more attention to healthy snacks, delicious and easy to prepare and use salads. Meals of fresh produce. However, the vastness of our country also adds a layer of complexity. The transportation distance is very long. It may sometimes take several days for the products to be delivered to the market and/or consumers. Therefore, the selection of planting varieties needs to be considered at this point. "
In the past 5 years, Australia has also focused on exports to Asia-Asia is nearby. "With the increasing population at our doorstep, Australia and New Zealand have many opportunities. In fact, a lot of work has been done to ensure that we produce the types of products that these countries and their consumers want and need."
Make the most of your crops As the market grows, growers want to protect their crops in the best way. This is where the greenhouse industry comes in. "All growers are thinking more about protecting their crops from large-scale weather events. Fires, hail, floods and droughts-Australia seems to be known for these extreme weather events. Growers are tired of years Losing crops-so a change must be made."
At the same time, Australian growers are working to reduce the risk of pests and diseases. “In the past, Australia has been quite isolated. However, we are no longer so lucky. Many exotic pests and diseases have spread to our shores. The fair trade agreement allows horticultural products to flow into our shores, which puts our biosecurity at risk, and Cracks have been found to penetrate our state and farms. The outbreak of exotic pests such as serpentine leaf miner in the Greater Sydney Basin has caused stress and heartache to growers because there are few registered chemicals and they may not have taken advantage of IPM. Strategies to combat it. We see the increasing frequency of foreign pest invasions, which has always been a concern for our growers. The use of nets, plastic covers, tunnels, retractable structures, multi-span greenhouses and obvious high-tech greenhouse production It can help reduce the risks of pests and diseases, birds, wind, hail and rain."
The labor problem is then the labor problem, leading growers to choose a smaller labor force. "For example, temporary level 1 (entry-level) employees in the horticulture sector today must earn at least US$25.41 per hour, but once all costs are calculated, the employer’s actual cost is approximately US$31 per hour. This makes farmers in the Australian horticulture sector consider using Automation and ultra-efficient labor utilization methods. In many organizations, labor accounts for 65% of their total costs. Therefore, in the past five years, in order to improve labor efficiency and reduce labor, new methods have been adopted to cultivate orchard trees and layout Orchards, fruit growing walls, and as many machines as possible. Passed."
She added that intensive protection planting systems, especially high-tech greenhouses, are very good at maximizing labor efficiency: “Scissor lifts, harvesting trolleys, unmanned vehicles (Bogaert Bees) in greenhouses, and supply from TAKS etc. Palletizing and palletizing machinery from manufacturers and packaging machinery from excellent packaging factories."
“Growers understand that the consistency of quality and quantity is essential to establish a good and healthy relationship with the supply chain, including supermarkets that need to supply agricultural products throughout the year. The goal of the grower is to fill the supply gap or return the peak price period, which is usually They are the shoulders of the off-season or peak production period. These are the "sweet spots" with huge profitability, and all these benefits can be achieved through the use of protected crops-climate, nutrition and crop operations can be controlled or optimized. Best result."
Healthy horticulture sector All in all, Australia is in a favorable position for a very healthy horticulture sector, which is constantly increasing in size, complexity and automation. "By 2030, the goal of Australian agriculture is to be a $100 billion industry (they have just exceeded $70 billion now), so Australian horticulture must be prepared accordingly to contribute to this goal in the next eight years. "Therefore, there is still a lot of room for improvement and efficiency overall. "
The growing market has led to an increase in "company/investor" type of business. "Companies from outside our industry, and sometimes even from abroad, have invested a lot of money in establishing horticulture businesses, including large, complex, and organized enterprises that aim to achieve incredible returns on investment. This has changed the landscape. Some companies Even listing on the stock exchange, going global and having a global impact with its systems, genetics and knowledge, shows that Australia's horticulture industry has a bright future."
One thing Nicky is sure of is that as an organization, Protected Cropping Australia needs to support their new growers through knowledge, training and various forums to help spread knowledge and experience. “Australia’s existing protected crop growers are performing well and achieving amazing goals. I have seen growers start immersing their toes in the water. They may have 1-5% of their crops protected, and slowly More and more crops are transferred to protected areas, just like insurance policies, to ensure that they harvest what they sown and maintain their market share. I see more and more corporate-style businesses entering this field, Because as the future population increases and protected crops are a safe and reliable return on investment, the production of clean and green food will become critical. As valuable resources such as water, nutrients and energy become scarce, this is also The ideal way to move forward in a smarter and less wasteful way."
Australia Protected Planting Industry Surveying and Mapping Project
For example, PCA is supporting the UNE mapping project of the Australian Protected Crops Department. "These data will provide accurate figures on the scale, scale and details of our Australian industry so that we can get the government's attention to support our future development. We are also determined to obtain the greenhouse building code officially recognized by the Australian Building Code to accept Our structure is unique and requires a different treatment from other factories or buildings, which will greatly help our members through red tape, reduce time and cost to get new projects approved and put into operation. Finally, focus on training and improving our workforce The skills to operate and operate these protected food production systems are critical to fully preparing our country for future food production."
For more information: Protected Cropping Association of Australia firstname.lastname@example.org www.protectedcropping.net.au
Publication Date: Tuesday, October 26, 2021 Author: Arlette Sijmonsma © HortiDaily.com
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