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Cleaner greener cucumbers and catchment success

“With greenhouse cucumbers, it’s tricky to get the water balance right"

Agricultural runoff, also known as diffuse source pollution, is a priority threat to the water quality of our coastal waterways.

That is why the Clean Coastal Catchment project on the Sandhu and Chouhan farms in Bucca on the NSW north coast is a success story worth sharing.

These families have managed to lower both their inputs costs of fertilizer and water whilst reducing their impact on the environment.

It's all part of a landholder incentive grants program run by North Coast Local Land Services.

Julie Dart, Senior Land Services Officer, Local Land Services North Coast, has been working with the family and other local greenhouse vegetable growers to demonstrate the new system in a commercial crop.

"The Sandhu and Chouhan family installed PRIVA grow scales in their greenhouse cucumber crop tunnels in 2022, funded by a project grant received in 2022," she said.

"Using computerized automation, grow scales calculate and program appropriate watering each day based on variables like the crop's weight," Ms. Dart said.

"With greenhouse cucumbers, it's tricky to get the water balance right. Too little water reduces yield and quality, too much water raises the risk of root diseases and environmental impacts."

Despite this challenge and some initial issues, the family, working alongside Local Land Services and the project consultant, are now very happy with the system and how the crops are responding.

Ms. Dart said as a direct result of the new system, the family is using less water and farm inputs like fertilizer.

"This saves them money and improves their environmental performance," she said.

"We're excited to help the family share their success story with the wider community. As part of the program, we'll be hosting farm walks for local veggie growers at their property," said Ms Dart.

"This type of collaboration creates a positive outcome within the intensive industries on the north coast, boosting the local economy and improving catchment water quality at the same time," she said.


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