Home' Grower : July 2012 Contents The South Australian Grower -- July 2012
Empower growers to adopt
By TREVOR LINKE and TONY
were the main focus
because they are much
more numerous than field
growers in this region -- around
1000 and increasing, compared
to about 200 and decreasing for
The need for building skills
and practices in sustainable
farming is quite high amongst
the greenhouse sector.
This is largely because many of
the Vietnamese and Cambodian
growers who make up much of
their numbers, were not from a
professional farming back-
ground and arrived in Australia
in the mid-late 1980s with gen-
erally limited English language
Since the mid-1990s there has
been a significant investment in
training greenhouse growers
from state and commonwealth
resources via the industry levy
and, lately, various programs
resourced by DAFF.
These programs have focused
on production level training
needs, particularly pest issues
like western flower thrips, and
soil and plant health manage-
ment with an increasing empha-
sis on Natural Resource
There has also been a signifi-
cant investment in translation
and interpretative support with-
in these programs.
Growers involved in these pro-
grams have always stated that
they gained immensely through
learning in groups, because they
can see the progress each of
them is achieving and share
skills and expert support for rel-
evant problem solving.
HORTEX has received fund-
ing through the Community
Action Grants program under
the Adelaide and Mount Lofty
Ranges NRM region to facilitate
collaborative grower groups.
One for soil based greenhouse
growers, another for green-
house hydroponic growers and a
small pilot group for field veg-
Several meetings have been
held with leading growers from
the soil and hydroponic farms to
offer support to identify needs
and co-ordinate industry sup-
port for priorities. Twelve local
growers have been involved as
key communicators, while many
others have consistently shown
interest in becoming continuous
learners and working more
These growers want to achieve
their potential to strengthen
their own skills and influence
others to adopt best practice in
sustainable, profitable farming.
Discussion amongst the soil
based greenhouse growers has
clearly confirmed that improving
soil health management through
using compost effectively and
fine tuning their irrigation prac-
tices has been a major benefit.
Many of these growers have
gained a lot from previous work-
shops and training programs,
such as the Training to Grow
Your Business program conduct-
ed by ARRIS and coordinated
by Noel Johnston.
Fifteen growers recently gradu-
ated from this program with
Diploma's (11) and Certificate
This program was funded by
Horticulture Australia Limited,
Agrifoods Skills Council and
All of these growers are reach-
ing out to their friends and fam-
ily, encouraging them to adopt
more sustainable and profitable
farming practices and to attend
About 20 soil and hydro green-
house growers are also taking
part in a biological pest control
adoption program also funded
by Community Action Grants
Some hydroponic growers on
the NAP have issues with saline
run-off from their farms. Six
leading hydroponic growers
have been assisted to take part in
meetings with the EPA who are
pursuing implementation of new
regulations for saline discharge
that can generate major new
costs for hydro businesses.
Both growers and the EPA are
committed to finding a practical
way for ward.
The focus with the hydroponic
growers has to explore meaning-
THE project aimed to develop grower groups,
especially amongst greenhouse growers, and to
explore the scope for initiating a small field
grower group on the Northern Adelaide Plains,
with an emphasis on expert soil management and
sustainable farming practices.
and egg plant grower
Phuong Vo talks to
visitors about the
benefits of healthy
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