Virginia, in South Australia is a well-known area for protected culture cropping in Australia. As weather variability brings more unpredictability to open field cultivation, some farmers are considering what role protected technology might play in their farming future.
It was a busy week for Seminis’ Regional Business Manager, Linda Ferrarese and Market Development Specialist for Protected Crops, Adrian Simkins as they played host to 15 growers and plant raisers from South East Queensland (SEQ) in July. Initiated by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the group travelled to Virginia to learn more about protected cropping.
The persistent drought in South East Queensland has forced many farmers to think about the ongoing viability of their operation and the role that protected cropping systems, like those in Virginia, could play. The study tour allowed the group to see firsthand the obvious difference in growing conditions, as well as the great deal of agriculture within the town. The group were looking at systems, varieties, structures and the overall scale of the area.
“There are plenty of perks to protected cropping,” said Adrian Simkins. “There is no doubt it can provide more certainty and predictability in growing. For example, growers in Virginia will have a crop that looks fantastic and may only water once a day for about 5 minutes. The group of SEQ growers were extremely impressed with this.”
Regional Business Manager Linda Ferrarese said the visit to Virginia was a great opportunity for SEQ growers. “For some of these growers, this was the second time they’ve visited the region to see the protected cropping production. To me, it shows there is a great amount of interest in the work that’s being done.”
Virginia, a thriving protected cropping Australian state is well known for its cucumber, capsicum and tomato production, particularly in the Vietnamese community with over 1000 growers setting up shop. For many of the local growers farming has been a family tradition for decades with parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins all working the industry.
“We have hundreds of greenhouses here,” said Linda. “When you think of growing in Queensland, you think open field. Growers are looking for something new, especially in the context of the conditions they’ve been presented with.”
The group met with five Seminis growers who are currently growing protected capsicum variety SV5581PH, cucumber variety SV0091CE and tomato variety, Malinche and looked at the performance of these protected varieties under local conditions.
“I always admire growers for their resilience and their strong value of community, and this trip exemplifies both,” Linda said. “Our aim was to make the SEQ growers feel welcome and to offer access to different kinds of greenhouse technologies, crops and experiences through the connections and relationships we have forged in South Australia during the past years. It was a pleasure to host the group,” Linda said.