The long-term sustainability of horticulture in the Midwest, and making the most of new data and technologies was the focus of a Mid West Horticulture Grower Group workshop held in Geraldton last week.
The workshop, which was held at DPIRD’s research station due to biosecurity issues associated with it being held on farm, was attended by horticultural growers from all around the Geraldton region, with the majority being of Vietnamese background.
Energy Farmers Australia director Euan Beamont kicked-off the workshop with a presentation about a demonstration that he has been involved in for the past two years entitled Poultry Litter Biochar Fertiliser for Horticulture. This project has been carried out on Bao Duy Nguyen and Bao La Nguyen’s property in Walkaway.
Euan said that scientific evidence suggests that incorporating biochar into the soil will result in less chemical fertiliser having to be used. The demonstration looked at different rates of fertiliser and biochar to determine which produced the best economic outcome. As the demonstration has only been conducted over two years, the results are not yet enough to make solid conclusions, but do provide invaluable information and a starting point for further work.
“Initial results suggest that low rates of fertiliser and biochar was the most economical,” said Euan. “However, when biochar is applied at a moderate rate with fertiliser there are benefits.”
Euan also demonstrated a biocar kiln that he and his business partner, Tom Vogan, had developed to produce biochar.
“Unfortunately we weren’t able to see, the kiln in operation, but we were given a rundown on how it worked,” said NACC Sustainable Agriculture Project Manager Sarah Jeffery.
“It was great to just be able to see it, and the growers were quite fascinated,” She said.
The full results of this demonstration will be available soon on the NACC and Energy Farmers Australia websites.
Bao Duy then went on to give a presentation of his Nuffield Scholarship. Boa received the award in 2017 after he investigated the field of protective cropping in horticulture in low-tech greenhouses, with an emphasis on monitoring technology and water sustainability issues. Through the Scholarship, he was able to travel to a number of different countries – including Spain, Italy and Netherlands – to investigate this.
Bao Duy said that every country varied in its technologies and methodologies, and the experience gave him much needed information that would help him to modify his property and practices to be more sustainable and competitive.
To ensure everyone there knew what was happening during the workshop, Bao Duy translated both his and Euan’s presentations into Vietnamese.
“It was an extremely interesting evening,” said Sarah.
“Not only did we all learn more about horticulture in our region, but also across the world.
“I’m sure that both Bao Duy’s scholarship presentation and Energy Farmers Australia’s demonstration will help to make horticulture in the Midwest more sustainable and competitive.”
The event was supported by Clayton and Weir, and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, and NACC – with funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and Regional Landcare Facilitator.