Hort Innovation continues to invest both the fresh and processing potato levies in a number of key projects for the industry. From work to keep the industry informed and evolving in its practices, to research to strengthen biosecurity and improve soil health, read about all current projects in the R&D snapshot below.

INDUSTRY UPDATE

After you’ve read about the potato industry’s current levy investments and outcomes in this edition of Hortlink, check out Hort Innovation’s fresh potato grower page and processing potato grower page. The grower pages remain your one-stop-shop for industry information, including:

  • Important updates regarding both the fresh and processing potato Strategic Investment Plans (SIPs), as available. Developed in close consultation with growers and other industry stakeholders, the SIPs are documents outlining the priorities for strategic investment in the potato industries. They are to be used like a ‘roadmap’ by the potato Strategic Investment Advisory Panels (SIAPs) when providing advice to Hort Innovation on potential levy investments.
  • The latest updates regarding the potato SIAPs, including details on both panels’ recently appointed chair, Cath Botta, and summaries from all SIAP meetings to date. The fresh SIAP last met at the end of August 2016 and is due to meet again in March, while the processing SIAP most recently met in October 2016 and will also convene again in March at Hort Innovation’s Sydney offices.
  • Grower resources, events and articles of interest to the potato industry.

Any questions?

As well as the fresh potato and processing potato grower pages, Hort Innovation Relationship Manager Christian Patterson is always available to answer questions on the potato program, on 0433 896 753 or at christian.patterson@horticulture.com.au.

R&D SNAPSHOT

NEW, ONGOING AND COMPLETED PROJECTS FOR THE INDUSTRY

Extension program for the Australian potato industry 2016-2019 (PT15002)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Getting underway in 2016, this project will deliver a wide range of extension activities to meet the diverse needs of fresh and processing potato growers, and other potato industry stakeholders. Program activities will capture the outcomes of new industry projects and developments, but also maximise the use of valuable older technologies and international developments, too. The ultimate goal of the program is to increase the use and continue the uptake of practical research findings across the industry.

What’s the latest update? In its initial months, the project established a Program Reference Group (PRG), with the majority of members being potato growers and industry representatives. The PRG is responsible for providing the extension program team with guidance and feedback on program activities. Meanwhile, wider industry input was also sought, with growers encouraged to submit relevant and connected ideas for extension activities.

The result has been the identification of a number of priority areas for extension in 2017, including seed quality and handling education; the development of a digital app for potato pest and disease diagnostics; a range of webinars; and the development of management to tools to better evaluate the impact of farming practices on farm business outcomes.

Program activities will begin to roll out in the not-too-distant future, being advertised in industry communication channels.

Potato industry communication program 2016-18 (PT15007)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Communications delivered via this project aim to grow awareness and on-farm adoption of the results of levy-funded projects for the Australian potato industry, inspiring Australian growers to take advantage of R&D results and innovate in their businesses.

What’s the latest update? A number of regular communication channels are produced and maintained by this project, including but not limited to:

  • The bi-monthly Potatoes Australia magazine, with current and past editions available to download here
  • The industry’s Weekly Update e-newsletter
  • AUSVEG social media updates
  • InfoVeg services, soon to include potato industry YouTube videos
  • An annual R&D summary and levy brochure
  • The annual Grower Success Stories publication, which profiles growers who are incorporating R&D into their growing operations for peer-to-peer learning.

The project also maintains an industry contact database and is responsible for media relations activities, including the production of media releases and contribution to external publications as needed.


Potatoes Australia magazine

A recent edition of Potatoes Australia


Review and update of the National Standard for Certification of Australian Seed Potatoes (PT15004)

Status: Completed project

What was it all about? This project undertook a review and update of the National Standard for Certification of Australian Seed Potatoes. The implementation of the National Standard allows for:

  • Reliable high-health seed production in Australia
  • Maximised yields and product quality of crops in both the fresh and processing industries
  • Management of diseases that limit yield and quality
  • A robust platform to enable export of certified seed potatoes.

If you would like information on the new standard, you can contact Hort Innovation’s R&D Lead, Dr Anthony Kachenko, on 0429 221 443 or at anthony.kachenko@horticulture.com.au. You can also contact seed certification authorities including:

Other R&D projects of note…
  • Review of the national biosecurity plan for the potato industry and development of a biosecurity manual for potato producers (PT16004), a new project that will be responsible for updating the industry’s high-level biosecurity plan through identifying high-priority endemic and exotic pests and diseases along with the risk mitigation activities required to reduce their biosecurity threat. It will also develop a manual for growers, to help grow awareness of key pests and diseases, and how they can take steps to minimise their risk. The manual will also highlight legislative changes to ensure growers are up to date regarding their official biosecurity obligations.
  • Impact of groundwater quality on the management of centre-pivot-grown potato crops (PT16001), a recently commenced project that will assess groundwater quality in areas of potato production in South Australia (where groundwater quality is most variable) and investigate how regional and seasonal water-quality variability impacts on potato production and quality. It will ultimately deliver an effective management strategy for sustainable and profitable potato production.
  • Exploring Spongospora suppressive soils in potato production (PT16002), a project for which Hort Innovation is currently appointing a service provider. It will seek to confirm the presence of a soil (or multiple soils) with characteristics that suppress Spongospora diseases of potato. If suppression is demonstrated, it will identify the mechanisms for suppression and determine if the suppressive properties are transferrable to non-suppressive soils.
  • Navigating the wealth of soil health information and identification of opportunities (PT16003), another project for which Hort Innovation is currently appointing a service provider. This project will allow potato industry growers and other stakeholders to better utilise soil health information and R&D on-farm. It will also develop a plan to further drive productivity improvements in soil health management.

FACES OF HORTICULTURE

CHRISTIAN PATTERSON, RELATIONSHIP MANAGER, HORT INNOVATION

Christian Patterson regularly travels around Australia to different potato growing regions in a role that is vital to the long-term success and viability of the country’s potato industry.

As a Relationship Manager at Hort Innovation, Christian’s role is to ensure that the nation’s growers are aware of developments in both the fresh and processed potato industries, as well as the sweetpotato industry and the Consumer Alignment strategic investment pillar of the vegetable industry.

Christian entered the horticulture industry more than eight years ago, joining Woolworths in its Primary Freight Division. He then moved into the role of Category Manager with Perfection Fresh and Fresh Produce Group, before accepting the role of Relationship Manager at Hort Innovation 16 months ago.

A primary focus

Currently, Christian is working closely with the fresh and processed potato industry Strategic Investment Advisory Panels (SIAPs) to develop the next potato Strategic Investment Plan, which aims to accurately reflect the industry’s R&D funding priorities over the next five years.

“The involvement of these panels is critical to the success of the funding of various projects, as they are the voice of the greater industry and represent a cross-section of industry experts –  growers, suppliers and the like,” Christian said. “That’s allowing us a varied, experienced group to form views and offer advice as to what areas of investment are most important and critical to their respective industry.”

Grower involvement

One valuable aspect of Christian’s role as Relationship Manager is the ability to visit Australia’s potato growers, who are spread out across the nation. “My best work as a Relationship Manager is done face-to-face with the growers, and the relationships between those who I do manage to go and see are very strong and robust,” he said.

“I like to take a personal involvement with as many potato growers as possible outside of the SIAPs. These vary from something as simple as a phone call to a road trip, ensuring that I’m touching base at the ground level with our levy payers. Sometimes the best advice and industry information is gathered when you’re standing in the field with a grower and understanding the issues at their level.”

He added that Hort Innovation plays a significant role in the adoption of R&D on-farm in the potato industry. “As the body that invests the levies collected, we’re responsible (along with the SIAPs) to ensure we’re protecting industry, building strong succession plans and supporting industry in its growth and delivering results along the way,” he esaid. “Whether it be from a seed grower to an end-product grower, these are all important spokes in the wheel. The adoption of the R&D that is developed is very important and has been made possible in conjunction with industry, the SIAPs and Hort Innovation to benefit the industry.”

 Further growth

Christian believes there is great potential for growth in the Australian potato industry, with exporting on the radar for many in the industry. Providing support for younger potato growers is also a priority.

“Personally, I think the biggest opportunity for growth is in exports, as long as we can ensure all the checks and balances that are required are in place,” Christian said. “I also see an opportunity with the younger growers forging their way into the industry. Supporting these younger growers along the way is vital – there’s a lot to learn from these guys and they also need our support from the ground up.”

Australia’s potato growers are able to contact Christian should they require assistance, or need advice on any industry issues. Reach him on 0433 896 753 or at christian.patterson@horticulture.com.au. If they’re not already, growers are also encouraged to become members of Hort Innovation to be updated with regular advancements in R&D (sign up for free here).

“I want potato growers to be able to contact me at any time and be safe in the knowledge that they are being heard and that I am also actioning their requests in a timely manner. That is my ultimate goal.”

 

This profile first appeared in the February/March 2017 edition of Potatoes Australia magazine. The magazine is produced by AUSVEG under Hort Innovation project ‘Potato industry communication program 2016-18’ (PT15007), described above. Visit the AUSVEG website here to see all issues of Potatoes Australia.

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