Hort Innovation has highlighted three key areas as part of the Australian Protected Cropping Strategy to deliver results for the sector over the next decade.
Speaking at the Protected Cropping Australia (PCA) Conference 2022 at Coffs Harbour, Hort Innovation's Head of Research & Development Byron de Kock told delegates developing value chains for export, investing in a skilled workforce and harnessing automation and technology are all significant parts of the strategy for growth.
"It's important to develop profitable and diversified value chains, and identify opportunities to grow exports across protected cropping," he said. "The next is people, and a key theme is to inspire the future generations to get involved in horticulture, and you can't do that without investing in them. We want to develop a strong protected cropping workforce. Another is technology, and we want to focus on harnessing approaches to automation, robotics the use of key data. But why are we doing it? We really want to drive outcomes for growers."
Photo: Hort Innovation's Byron de Kock
Horticulture is the third largest agriculture commodity, worth more than 15 billion dollars, and over the past five years has grown 27 per cent. Hort Innovation currently has 348 research projects underway, worth more than 413 million in investment, including the Australian Protected Cropping Strategy 2021-2030.
"We spoke to 47 organisations and 100 individuals as we developed this strategy, and re-defined protected cropping, and perhaps expanded the definition," Mr de Kock said. "We looked at the global mega-trends, and importantly the strategy identifies potential deliverables and KPIs so we can confirm priorities and make the right investments."
The bi-annual conference is underway at Coffs Harbour, with around 450 delegates attending over the four days, with 40 attending virtually. The program includes grower workshops, plenary sessions and farm tours - as well as a conference dinner and industry awards.
Tuesday featured a full day stream around the growing Medicinal Cannabis industry in Australia, while there were also sessions on Introduction to Hydroponics, Pollination, Irrigation and Nutrition, Innovation and New Technology and Land Use & Planning.
There were also keynote speakers including Tristan Kitchener, who spoke about the future state of retailing and the opportunities for producers and Nancy Schellhorn who told delegates about pest management with information services. There were also presentations from student researchers giving an update on projects currently underway in the protected cropping sector.
Photo: Luciana Mazzucchi from Garden City Plastics and Craig Halford from Grayson Australia
The event also has more than 60 exhibitors, and one of those is Garden City Plastics, which is one of Australia's largest plastic pot manufacturers. All of the pots and containers that it manufactures domestically are 100% recyclable. Established back in 1975, the company's range now extends to Plant Health, Fertilisers and Decorative Containers of various designs with over 200 colour choices.
For more information on the company's products and services, visit: www.gardencityplastics.com