Growing Innovation: Issue 15, September 15, 2016

Next generation of turf growers energised and inspired

Over 40 young turf growers from across the country have come together for the Turf Australia 2016 NxGen Forum in Perth. The two-day event left many of the attendees ready to consider new ideas and approaches, from revisiting water management to giving hybrid turf production thought.

Held at the end of August, the annual forum was a chance for the industry’s next generation to learn, build relationships and get inspired about the future of turf. This year it included talks from a range of experts as well as valuable field tours to see the fruits of the industry’s work in action, and to see first-hand what other growers are up to.

Hort Innovation Relationship Manager Lead John Vatikiotis, who attended the forum, said that events such as NxGen are an important way to build the strength of an industry at a people level. “It was great to see the growers, who were all under 40, take time out of their businesses to network and build relationships. It’s new professional bonds such as these that will hopefully engender the sharing of information and support, helping keep the industry connected, open and strong,” he said.

“The field tours were particularly interesting and a chance to see the industry in action.”

Growers toured Bullsbrook Farm to learn about the farm’s operations including its innovative overhead irrigation system and how increasing environmental regulations are being handled. There was also a visit to Kings Park – one of the world’s largest inner-city parks – to talk turf maintenance, including how sting nematode is being managed with the use of compost in the soil profile.

The growers also headed to NIB Stadium to look at the growing and maintenance of hybrid grass, and to Domain Stadium to hear about the management of sports turf.

Speakers at the forum included environmental scientist Josh Byrne of Growing Australia fame, who drilled home the importance of green space in Australia’s cities.

The latest turf research from the University of Western Australia was also presented, while other talks focused on sports turf research, the latest in turf growing and installation and more.

“There were many highlights for attendees, who relished the opportunity to come together to learn and to share,” John said.

The annual NxGen Forums come under a project that is funded by Hort Innovation using the turf R&D levy and funds from the Australian Government. They are run by Turf Australia with additional funds from event sponsors, including Turf Australia.

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