INDUSTRY UPDATE

Along with Hortlink, don’t forget that Hort Innovation’s turf grower page is an important source of industry info for levy payers. On it you’ll find:

  • Updates regarding the turf Strategic Investment Plan (SIP), as available. Developed in close consultation with growers and other industry stakeholders, the SIP is a document outlining the priorities for strategic investment in the industry. It is to be used like a ‘roadmap’ by the turf Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP) when providing advice to Hort Innovation on potential levy investments.
  • The latest meeting notes from the turf SIAP, which most recently met across March 28 and 29 in Sydney, and is due to meet again in late June/early July.
  • Current financial documents regarding your levy, including the July 2016 to March 2017 financial operating statement, and expenditure summaries for R&D and marketing projects.
  • Grower resources, events and articles of interest to the industry.

Any questions?

As well as the turf grower page, Hort Innovation Relationship Management Lead John Vatikiotis  is always available to answer questions on the turf program, on 0429 022 637 or john.vatikiotis@horticulture.com.au. For questions relating specifically to the industry’s marketing, contact Hort Innovation Marketing Manager Craig Perring.

R&D SNAPSHOT

NEW, ONGOING AND COMPLETED PROJECTS FOR THE INDUSTRY

Developing a national standard for turf as an erosion control measure (TU13034)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? This project is developing an Australian Standard for the use of turf in erosion control in construction management and completed works (such as buildings, roads, waterways, mining and any other situations where turf may assist in erosion control).

What’s the latest update? It is expected the final standard, designated to be AS 5181, will be published in the coming months.

The draft standard was released for public comment in November 2016, via the Standards Australia Public Comment Portal. It remained open for comment until February 6 this year, with the relevant national standards committee then resolving the feedback at a meeting on March 9, before recommending Standards Australia proceed with the next step of the development of the standard.

National R&D conference 2016 and 2017 (TU15700)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? This projects supports industry conference and field day events to help growers:

  • Run more profitable businesses
  • Learn new production methods
  • Realise the results of levy-funded R&D and marketing projects
  • Assess new equipment, innovations and management practices that may aid more efficient turf production
  • Professionally network with others in the turf industry.

What’s the latest update? The 2017 national turf conference and field day took place across June 5 to 7 in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales. The theme was ‘Precision Turf Farming’, with presentations from growers who practice precision farming, turf nutrition experts, disease specialists, professionals in precision agriculture technologies and more. Multiple machinery demonstrations also took place during the field day component.

See the full program here. For those unable to attend, information and learnings will be included in industry communications in the near future.

NxGen 2016-18 (TU15002)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? This project supports the annual NxGen forums. These events encourage leadership development, communicate R&D and marketing information, and enable professional networking for people aged under 40 in the Australian turf industry.

Turf levy funding enables a substantially reduced registration cost for delegates to enable widespread professional development of the next generation of Australian turf growers.

What’s the latest update? The 2017 NxGen forum was held from April 30 to May 2 in Canberra, with close to 50 young growers. The event saw information sessions on farm health and safety, best-practice agronomic management, turf diseases and general farm and business management. There was also information presented on Hort Innovation’s Growing Green Industry Leaders program (read more on project MT16002 below), and field trips took place to Parliament House Gardens, the Royal Canberra Golf Club and the National War Memorial.

A wrap-up of the event and details on the key topics were provided in this special edition of the industry’s e-newsletter, produced under project TU12014.

An environmental assessment of the Australian turf industry (TU16000)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Established in late 2016, this project will benchmark the turf industry’s environmental performance and make recommendations for strengthening this performance without compromising productivity or profitability for growers.

What’s the latest update? In the early stages of the project, the research team has reviewed existing research and information on environmental performance and best practice in the Australian turf industry. The review condensing this information is available here and is just a starting point for the project.

The project is now entering the data-gathering phase, which will involve a range of tests at turf grower sites and some turf installation sites. The researchers are currently looking for turf growers to participate, who are interested in improving their efficiencies and managing environmental impacts/risks. Participants will receive a soil test and an individual environmental assessment/efficiencies benchmarking report, while observations will feed into the industry’s benchmarking information.

For further details, contact John Cumming from Infotech Research on 0418 125 688. There is no limit on the number of growers who can join the benchmarking study – the bigger the involvement, the better the results!

The researchers note that the industry will benefit from the outcomes of the lifecycle assessment of turf showing its functions in absorbing carbon into the soil and controlling soil erosion. It is hoped the data will be able to be used to market natural turf as a good environmental choice.

Turf industry communications (TU12014)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? This project delivers up-to-date information on R&D, marketing and other resources that support the profitability and sustainability of Australian turf growers and others involved in the industry.

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

  • The quarterly Turf Australia Industry Magazine, the latest editions of which are available here
  • The fortnightly Turf Australia e-newsletter
  • The Turf Australia website, www.turfaustralia.com.au
  • The Turf Australia social media program
  • Turf Facts factsheets as needed, with hard copies distributed with the industry magazine and digital versions available via the Turf Australia website
  • Industry workshops and seminars as needed.
Other R&D projects of note…
  • Turf industry statistics and research 2016/17 (TU16001), which began in late 2016 and is responsible for surveying Australian turf businesses, collecting industry data to provide a clear picture of both the socioeconomic and physical status and needs of the industry.
  • Business and industry development for the turf industry 2013-17 (TU13004), which began in 2013 and funds the position of a Business and Industry Development Manager (BIDM), Richard Stephens, within Turf Australia. Some of the project’s key aims are to facilitate collaboration and engagement with and between key industry bodies; facilitate technology adoption and communication programs for growers and other industry stakeholders; and deliver training programs and workshops to increase industry understanding and skills. Other industry development projects include Industry development services for the Queensland turf industry (TU13029), which has funded the position and activities of a Queensland-specific industry development officer, and Development for the Victorian turf industry (TU13028), which currently funds the position and activities of a Victorian industry development officer for the industry.
  • Green industry growing leaders program (MT16002), a new multi-industry project supporting the participation of 15 turf and nursery workers in a three-month, industry-specific leadership education course. Read more in Hort Innovation’s article here.  Applications were advertised in key industry channels and closed in early May, with successful candidates notified in mid-May.

Turf levy investment in strategic partnership projects…

What are ‘strategic partnership’ projects?

Hort Innovation’s strategic partnership initiative is responsible for developing collaborative cross-industry projects with the aim of finding solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the future of Australian horticulture. These projects are funded via a combination of Australian Government investments (at least $20 million annually) and co-investments that are brokered and managed by Hort Innovation (including from research institutes, commercial partners, individual levy industries and more).

How is the turf industry involved?

Turf levy is co-invested in the project Measuring Australia’s green space assets (GC15004), which is helping quantify, evaluate and promote healthy and climate-resilient green space environments. The project is part of the strategic partnership Green Cities Fund, with more information available here.

MARKETING SNAPSHOT

THE LATEST ACTIVITY THAT’S GROWING THE INDUSTRY

Hort Innovation is responsible for marketing activities to grow awareness and use of Australian turf, using the industry’s marketing levy. Recent efforts include…

Continued social media activity

The turf marketing campaign continues to impress with a strong social media presence.  The consumer-facing Lawnspiration Facebook page (www.facebook.com/lawnspiration) is always growing and engaging, with 2017 so far seeing the page achieve over 40,000 fans, with more than 5.7 million people reached with turf tips, advice and inspiration to date.

The page and the strategy around it has created a highly-engaged community of lawn-lovers that didn’t exist three years ago, and is recognised for its organic growth and self-generating content (with the community sharing their own stories, images and advice).

New Galaxy Poll

Recent Galaxy Poll research conducted by Hort Innovation on behalf of the turf industry has shown that turf is a valued asset to any home. The research, which saw 1000 people surveyed, has reiterated that more than 99 per cent of Australian parents with children from birth to 12 years would like to raise their kids with a backyard, and the ideal backyard for them is grassed (87 per cent).

These insights and others from the research will work well for leveraging media coverage around turf, and will reinforce Turf Australia’s messaging around the benefits of turf for physical health and wellbeing, and its value to the home. The results will also provide an opportunity to promote the industry’s turf ‘cost calculator’. Look for updates on these activities in future editions of Hortlink.

Poll results of interest:

  • 99 per cent of Australian parents with young children aged 0-12 years would like to raise their kids in a home with a backyard
  • 79 per cent believe it’s healthier for kids to spend more time outside
  • 74 per cent want a backyard to get their kids out of the house and away from the TV/computer/mobile phone
  • 69 per cent say they see the backyard as a safe place for their kids to spend time outside
  • 63 per cent of parents want their children to grow up with a backyard because they had a backyard themselves, and want their kids to have the same experience
  • 44 per cent believe having a backyard is quintessentially Australian
  • 49 per cent of parents say their kids will grow up with a backyard that is smaller than the one they had when they were growing up, 34 per cent say it will be about the same size, and 17 per cent say it will be bigger.

The research also revealed the following:

  • In regards to ‘screen time’, hours spent in front of screens by kids aged 0-12 per day are…
    • Less than one hour – 17 per cent
    • At least one hour – 83 per cent
    • At least two hours – 64 per cent
    • At least three to four hours – 32 per cent
    • At least five to six hours – nine per cent
  • In regards to ‘green time’, hours spent in the backyard by kids aged 0-12 per day are…
    • Less than one hour – 39 per cent
    • Less than two hours – 67 per cent
    • Less than three hours – 91 per cent
    • Less than four hours – 98 per cent
  • Screen time versus green time by state:
    • Victoria and Tasmania – 2.5 hours vs 1.1 hours
    • Queensland – 2.4 hours vs 1.2 hours
    • New South Wales – 2.3 hours vs 1.2 hours
    • South Australia – 2.1 hours vs 1.5 hours
    • Western Australia – 2.2 hours vs 1.4 hours

FACES OF HORTICULTURE

LACHLAN MONCRIEFF, GROWER – PARAGON GARDENS, QLD

Relentless drought in Townsville isn’t getting turf farmer Lachlan Moncrieff down, with the tough conditions driving him to secure a highly sought-after $10,000 scholarship to help make business rain.

Lachlan is one of 22 horticulture growers across the country who is undertaking the 10-month Masterclass in Horticultural Business course – which is being funded by Hort Innovation as part of its strategic co-investment initiative, and delivered by the University of Tasmania with world-leading agriculture university Wageningen in the Netherlands and New Zealand’s Lincoln University.

Lachlan said with the drought and hardship continuing in Townsville, he seized the opportunity to secure a scholarship to improve business.

“In Townsville, we’re going through adverse times and I wanted to do what I could to improve my business in a time when things are really tough,” he said. “Options to study horticulture are also limited in regional Australia, and the opportunity to undertake this Masterclass, together with the Hort Innovation scholarship, is incomparable.”

Opportunities ahead

Lachlan will explore topics such as ‘global trends and international business’, ‘innovation and entrepreneurship’, and ‘business development and strategy’ through online coursework and face-to-face sessions.

He said networking and site study tours were aspects of the course that were also highly appealing.

“It’s great to meet other farmers. I have no comprehension of how they operate – it blows your mind,” he said. “While it doesn’t feel it, Townsville is remote compared to capital cities. There are a lot of little issues, such as freight. Being able to talk about that and share a few ideas with other course participants certainly helps.”

Leading the way

With a self-described hunger for learning, Lachlan is a known leader and innovator in the turf industry. He played an integral role in the negotiation of viable turf exemptions after the introduction of water restrictions in Townsville in 2015, and has spoken at council meetings, workshops and industry meetings.

With turf being a popular industry in Townsville, Lachlan has also carved out a point of difference to business competitors, becoming the town’s first soft-leaf buffalo grass grower and venturing into drought tolerant Zoysia grass production.

Lachlan said he enjoys sharing his learnings with industry members, and that this scholarship will benefit fellow turf growers, his nursery and landscaping peers, and other supporting businesses.

Want to learn more?

Learn more about the Masterclass in Horticultural Business – and hear straight from Lachlan – with Hort Innovation’s video on the first-of-its-kind course here.

With the 2017 Masterclass underway, opportunities for 2018 scholarship applications will be announced through industry and Hort Innovation channels in the future.

Print page