Home' Grower : October 2013 Contents The South Australian Grower -- October 2013 7
of research to back up this claim.
A 2007 CSIRO and Vic
Government joint study verified
that 12 native fruit varieties bear
exceptionally high antioxidant
levels, while 2010 Rural Industries
Research and Development
Corporation research concluded
that a range of native herbs also
serve as a rich source.
University of Adelaide doctoral
student Mary Retallack says native
plants do not just benefit consum-
ers, but can help growers too. She
is now investigating whether such
plants can fight pests such as light
brown apple moth.
Ms Retallack was awarded a
South Australian Research and
Development Institute Science
bursary to pursue the theory.
"What we're essentially doing is
encouraging the good bugs to eat
the bad bugs," she said.
"To do that, we need to find
the right plants that provide food,
shelter and alternative prey."
She is targeting native vegeta-
tion such as Christmas Bush and
Wallaby Grass as it is adapted to
local conditions and requires a low
The study is specifically in
relation to vineyards, but Ms
Retallack believes it will have a
much broader application with
perennial, and possibly annual
Entomologist Glenys Wood
-- who has put seven years of
SARDI-backed research into the
subject herself -- is another to
spruik the theory.
She recently completed a round
of Hortex Alliance workshops
educating Virginia growers of all
persuasions on how best to use
native plants to attract beneficial
Mrs Wood says several native
plant species -- including saltbush
-- do not harbour crop pests, and
can be used to replace weeds and
reduce chemical use.
"We call it conservation biocon-
trol -- less weeds, less herbicides,
so less work and expense for you,"
To those interested in attend-
ing her workshops, Mrs Wood
says she will have to wait and
see the direction the new Federal
Government takes before it is clear
if the workshops will be offered
again free of charge.
In the meantime, she is prepared
to do them privately.
But for Mr Newchurch and his
Nunga Produce initiative, native
plants are still first and foremost
all about good food, and he hopes
the rest of Australia will see it that
He says this will create a level of
demand that could see land too
arid for conventional crops put to
"I farm 5 hectares of land at the
moment, and own 80ha. Some
Aboriginal people though have a
lot more land than that -- thou-
sands of hectares. So this could be
big," he said.
Details: Ron Newchurch, Nunga
Produce, 0408 247 934 or bookyana@
internode.on.net; Glenys Wood 0401 122
145 or email@example.com.
Rainbow Fresh Direct's Nigel and Juliet Tripodi partnered with Liz
and Ron Newchurch to form Nunga Produce three years ago to help
indigenous growers become commercially viable.
Take your pick
River mint -- Has a similar taste and
smell to spearmint. Often produced
commercially in shade-house
conditions with automatic irrigation
systems and sequenced flush
Native thyme -- Strongly aromatic
plant that provides a continuous
supply of ready herb and easy to
maintain with regular pruning. Can be
grown in shade house conditions with
well-drained raised beds.
Karkalla -- A round-leaved succulent,
fleshy herb or prostrate shrub native to
coastal areas. It can be commercially
produced in boxes of composted
Lemon Myrtle -- One of the most
popular Australian herbs. It is native
to high-rainfall areas of northern NSW
and Qld, so will need to be regularly
irrigated but well-drained to thrive.
plants get lease of life
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