Horticulture experts eye industry forum in Mandurah

The benefits of growing fruit and vegetable crops in controlled environments to boost food production in Western Australia will be the focus of an industry forum in Mandurah in late May.

The Protected Horticulture in WA Forum on May 29, will be hosted by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and the Peel Development Commission as part of the State Government’s Transform Peel initiative, the forum will be opened to all interested members of the community.

Department senior researcher Heather Percy said the forum was a great opportunity for all aspects of the industry to come together with researchers and government planners and regulators to learn about innovative approaches to farming and food production in WA.

“Protected cropping is a prime example of how we can apply new technologies to grow and diversify horticultural production,” Ms Percy said.

“Protected cropping is basically the production of fruit and vegetables using a sheltered structure such as a glasshouse to modify growing conditions and protect crops from pests and adverse weather.

“This concept also includes soil-less environments such as hydroponics and aquaponics, controlled LED lighting that can reduce growing time and increase nutrient content of the produce, and vertical farming to further reduce the environmental footprint.”

Ms Percy said participants would hear from local growers with experience in protected cropping and be invited to contribute ideas about the opportunities and ways to overcome the challenges to protected cropping in WA.

The forum will see a variety of key speakers including keynote speaker Graeme Smith, of Graeme Smith Consulting in Victoria who will provide an overview on the future of protected cropping and soil-less agriculture in WA.

It will also see Baldivis growers Paul Humble discuss his experience with hydroponic cucumbers, Alex Norman speak about growing hydroponic tomatoes, Murdoch University’s Singapore Centre for Research Innovation Productivity and Technology associate professor Chris Vas will also be attending to talk about vertical farming and Ben Cole from Wide Open Agriculture will also present.

The program also includes an interactive session featuring local grower Bao Duy Nguyen of Sun City Produce who will talk about his protected horticulture system in Geraldton and his international study into protective cropping fruit and vegetables.

To register your attendance to the forum on May 29 please visit the department’s website agric.wa.gov.au or visit protectedcropping.eventbrite.com.