See how Hort Innovation is putting the vegetable levy to work! In this edition of Hortlink we put a spotlight on brand-new and recently completed projects in the Vegetable Fund.

You can jump straight to the new investments here and the now-finished projects here.

You’ll also find a basic overview of all other ongoing projects here.

With a robust R&D program spanning four key investment pillars, we know there’s a lot to take in – so be sure to use the links to get straight to the info you want (you can click on any project name in orange to be taken right to its description).

Also make sure you engage with the levy-funded communications project and VegNET program with its many industry development officers – these are just two of the projects in the Vegetable Fund that are tasked with helping deliver R&D outcomes, resources and information to the industry.

All the projects detailed here are funded by Hort Innovation using the vegetable R&D levy and contributions from the Australian Government. In some projects, additional funding sources are also used.


Don’t forget to grab the Vegetable Fund Annual Report

Released at the start of November, Hort Innovation’s Vegetable Fund Annual Report sums up all levy investments and activities from 2016/17. You can download a copy here, or head to Hort Innovation’s Annual Report Portal to place an order for a free hard copy of the report.

What research do you want to see?

As always, Hort Innovation encourages all growers and industry participants to share their thoughts and ideas for the research they want to see – whether that’s within the industry-specific Vegetable Fund (where research is funded by grower levies and Australian Government contributions), or within Hort Innovation’s strategic partnership initiative, Hort Frontiers (where research is funded through partnerships with co-investors).

Watch this video to see how ideas are collected and grown into projects, then submit your suggestions for new projects here.

Get closer to your investments with free membership

Hort Innovation membership brings you closer to the investment activities and results in your levy fund, and to the organisation as a whole. As well as providing the opportunity for voting rights at the company’s Annual General Meeting, membership helps you connect with your industry’s Relationship Manager, sends Hortlink straight to your inbox for first-look access, provides exclusive Grower Intel alerts with industry-specific news and opportunities, and more.

Paying a levy doesn’t automatically make you a member, so read more here and sign up now!

Find resources on the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund page…

Along with Hortlink, Hort Innovation’s webpage for vegetable levy payers is a great source of info. On it you’ll find:

  • Shortly, the new Vegetable Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) for 2017-2021, with an easy-to-read ‘at a glance’ version and the full PDF document. At the time of writing, the SIP had been finalised after close consultation with growers and other industry stakeholders, and was being readied for publication. It outlines priorities for strategic investment in the industry, and will be used like a ‘roadmap’ by the vegetable Strategic Investment Advisory Panels (SIAPs) when providing advice to Hort Innovation on potential levy investments.
  • The latest meeting notes from the vegetable SIAPs.
  • Current financial documents regarding your levy, including operating statements and expenditure summaries for R&D projects
  • Grower resources, events and articles of interest to the industry.
Any questions?

Hort Innovation Relationship Managers are always available to answer questions or provide info on the Vegetable Fund program.

Sam Turner looks after the Farm Productivity & Resource Use Management and Drive Train pillars, and can be reached on 0418 164 717 or at

Brad Wells looks after the Market & Value Chain Development pillar, and can be reached on 0412 528 398 or at

Christian Patterson looks after the Consumer Alignment pillar, and can be reached on 0433 896 753 or at


 Since the last edition of Hortlink, these new projects have been contracted by Hort Innovation. Either click on a project name to go straight to its overview, or scroll down to browse through.

Vegetable consumer insights program

Status: New program

Pillar: Consumer Alignment

Key research provider: The Nielsen Company

What’s it all about? This new data initiative, which will be known as the ‘Harvest to Home’ program, is responsible for bringing together retail and consumer data for the benefit of the vegetable industry. Growers will be able to access the program’s insights through an easy-to-use and simple-to-access ‘data dashboard’, with its own dedicated website. At the time of writing, this Harvest to Home platform was just about to be launched, so look for a link and further information in industry channels.

Boosting vegetable consumption through diet

Status: New project

Pillar: Consumer Alignment

Key research provider: SP Health, with CSIRO

What’s it all about? New since the last Hortlink, this ongoing investment has delivered an innovative tool to help consumers understand and increase their vegetable intake – an app called VegEze, which challenges people to eat more vegetables.

Released in mid-November, the VegEze app has a game-style approach, motivating participants to add extra vegetables to their daily diets and form long-term, healthier habits through a 21-day challenge to eat three different vegetables at each dinnertime. There are daily reminders and rewards throughout, and the app comes with educational resources such as a visual guide to serving sizes for specific vegetables, plus recipes and nutritional information.

The idea behind the app came from previous levy-funded research with the CSIRO, which demonstrated a positive relationship between the number of different types of vegetables Australian adults eat and their overall vegetable intake.

To help further understand vegetable consumption and how education initiatives can boost it, the project team will also be looking at how effective the VegEze app’s game-like nature is at helping transform people’s eating patterns.


Users of iPhones can find the VegEze app in the Apple App Store.

Educational opportunities around perceptions of, and aversions to, vegetables through digital media

Status: Two new projects – a development component, and an implementation component

Pillar: Consumer Alignment

Key research provider: Edible Adventures Productions

What’s it all about? With a focus on Australian children, this industry initiative is all about increasing education around and attitudes towards vegetables. There was an earlier component that laid the groundwork – looking at school-aged children’s perception of vegetables, and how to create positive behaviour change amongst educators, parents, caregivers and kids. Now these new components are tasked with developing and delivering digital food education resources based on this.

Featuring the involvement of a children’s television host and chef, and with advice from a curriculum expert who has previously been involved with the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, this will take the form of ‘webisodes’ – short videos primarily intended to be used by school teachers in their lessons. The projects will also develop other supporting materials to encourage positive behaviours, attitudes and outcomes around vegetables with kids aged six to 14.

Field and landscape management to support beneficial arthropods for IPM on vegetable farms

Status: New project

Pillar: Farm Productivity & Resource Use Management

Key research providers: Charles Sturt University in conjunction with IPM Technologies, the University of Queensland and NSW Department of Primary Industries

What’s it all about? This new program is designed to support Australian vegetable growers in harnessing the power of beneficial arthropods in integrated pest management (IPM) approaches. Specifically, it brings together a range of researchers and professionals in the field, who will capture information, develop and test strategies, and produce crop-specific and region-specific guidelines for field and landscape management to support beneficials. To kick things off, the project is beginning with a review of habitat management within the industry and in relevant literature.

Vegetable market price reporting pilot program – market data
(VG16081) and Vegetable market price reporting pilot program – reporting (VG16084)

Status: New program

Pillar: Market & Value Chain Development

Key research providers: Ausmarket Consultants (VG16081) and Freshlogic (VG16084)

What’s it all about? This pilot program represents the trial of a new market price and insights reporting resource for Australian vegetable growers. It will deliver accurate and timely twice-weekly and monthly wholesale market price reports on 10 key vegetable categories from markets in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. The reporting format and content is currently in development stages and will be made available pending a review period with key stakeholders.

The reports will ultimately include summarised wholesale prices; price differentials between wholesale markets; analysis of pricing, including trends through the season and over time, as well as the impact of product form, grade, pack size and more. The project will focus on providing analysis and insights to support increased knowledge and use of market price reporting by growers to aid in business decision making.

Vegetable digital asset redevelopment – Veggycation

Status: New program

Pillar: Consumer alignment

Key research provider: HHD Group

What’s it all about? Produced under earlier levy-funded work, Veggycation was established as a resource for helping educate Australians – including growers, consumers, teachers, students, food manufacturers and industry stakeholders – about the nutrition and health benefits of Australian vegetables, through the website and resources at The website was completed in 2014, and this new project will be responsible for giving it a refresh to help ensure the resource remains current.

Vegetable industry education and training initiative
(VG15028) – you know it as ‘VegPRO’

Status: Ongoing project, with a new sub-project established

Pillar: Drive Train

Key research provider: RMCG (for overarching VegPRO program), plus individual training service providers

What’s it all about? Beginning in 2016, this project supports the industry’s VegPRO initiative, which has a focus on providing targeted training programs to help upskill participants at all levels in the vegetable industry.

New training opportunities are always being added under VegPRO as sub-projects.

What’s the latest update? Contracted by Hort Innovation in October, the latest initiative under VegPRO has been Veg inductions (VG16031), tasked with creating a digital induction resource for entry-level workers in the vegetable industry. With the resource now due to be finalised, look for information to be circulated in industry channels and in the next Hortlink.

As reported in earlier editions of Hortlink other work in the VegPRO program has included,  but hasn’t been limited to…

  • VegWHS training resources (VG16031), a now-completed sub-project that developed these video resources to help vegetable growers make the use of the suite of ‘VegWHS’ tools. VegWHS is the industry’s workplace health and safety resource, distributed to growers on a carrot-shaped USB. It was produced under previous Vegetable Fund project Developing vegetable industry occupational health and safety resources (VH13053) and includes detailed guidelines, information and assessment tools to ensure vegetable workplaces remain safe. Vegetable levy-payers who don’t have access to the free USB can request one from their local VegNET IDO, listed here.
  • PMA A-NZ Produce Executive Program scholarships (VG16031), an ongoing sub-project that supports industry scholarships through to the year 2020, for levy-paying growers to take part in the PMA A-NZ Produce Executive Program. The Program is an intensive course for middle and high-level vegetable industry managers from across the supply chain to advance personal and professional development. Scholarship opportunities for 2018 are now opening, with details to be circulated in industry channels shortly. If you would like a short application form, you can contact Hort Innovation’s Bianca Cairns at
  • Developing valued, visible vegetable products (VG16031), which delivered a focused training workshop on product development and innovation for vegetables and vegetable-containing products. The workshop was held on August 4 at the Food Innovation Centre at Monash University in Victoria. Many of the resources extended during the workshop are available at, a website for innovating new vegetable products established under previous Vegetable Fund work.


As well as the above links and resources, visit the VegPRO website to see current industry training opportunities – including initiatives run separately to the project. Growers are also strongly encouraged to nominate areas in which they’d like to receive training, with a simple web form for submitting ideas available at


Since the last edition of Hortlink, these projects have drawn to a close. Either click on a project name to go straight to its wrap-up, or scroll down to browse through.

Full details are available in project final reports, which are – or will soon be – available to order through Hort Innovation’s final report order form. Final reports are free to Australian horticulture levy payers, registered Hort Innovation members and industry representative bodies. Not registered with Hort Innovation? Become a member now.

Identifying and sharing post-harvest best practice on-farm and online

Status: Completed project

Pillar: Market & Value Chain Development and Drive Train

Key research provider: Applied Horticultural Research

What was it all about? This project was responsible for documenting and communicating techniques and technologies to help vegetable growers achieve post-harvest efficiencies – finding ways to improve quality and shelf life, and to reduce cost, to allow growers to capture more value from the supply chain.

In compiling information on the latest post-harvest technologies for vegetables, where information was lacking or outdates, the project team conducted trials. These focused on measuring storage life of different vegetables at a range of temperatures, and measuring the rate of weight loss as affected by temperature and relative humidity.

Surprisingly, the trials demonstrated that it may not always be necessary to cool product to the ‘optimum’ temperature to achieve the quality and shelf life required for transport and retail. Another significant finding was that some chilling-sensitive products, such as capsicums, eggplant and zucchini, can be stored for several days or even longer at low temperature before damage occurs. In the case of red and green capsicums, storage life was longest at 2°C and 4°C respectively. It took longer for the development of chilling injury to reduce quality than the rots which inevitably develop at higher temperatures of 7°C or more.

The project developed models estimating daily potential moisture loss at a range of temperatures and humidity. This provides a tool for growers in determining an appropriate rate of over-pack for cartons or packages.

The information from the project has been compiled into a series of extension materials, including the Postharvest management of vegetables: Australian supply chain handbook.


Resources from the project, including recordings of webinars and fact sheets detailing post-harvest best-practice for specific vegetables, are available at

The website is also home to materials from the Postharvest management of vegetables: Australian supply chain handbook, outlining the best and most cost-effective ways for handling vegetables in the post-harvest period. While stocks are available, levy-paying vegetable growers can also request a hard copy of the handbook from Applied Horticulture Research Office Manager Sandra Marques.

Effective management of parsley summer root rot

Status: Completed project

Pillar: Farm Productivity & Resource Use Management

Key research provider: NSW Department of Primary Industries

What was it all about? Parsley summer root rot (SRR) affects all parsley-growing regions of Australia, and can lead to crop losses of up to 100 per cent. Running from 2014 and now concluded, this study aimed to determine the causal pathogens of SRR and to understand the disease’s epidemiology, particularly in relation to environmental conditions and practices. It also aimed to develop robust and integrated disease management strategies.

Research from this project confirmed that Pythium sulcatum is the most important cause of parsley SRR. This knowledge means growers can now apply more appropriate and effective management strategies targeting the pathogen. It was also found that longer crop rotations are needed in soil-based parsley production systems, particularly on farms where other apiaceous crops are grown.


Recommendations from this research are available via three fact sheets:

  • Best Practice for Farm and Crop Hygiene
  • Parsley Summer Root Rot – Varietal Susceptibility
  • Parsley Summer Root Rot – Integrated Disease Pest Management

These resources will soon be available on the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund page. For more details, contact Michelle Smith or Len Tesoriero at the NSW DPI on (02) 6391 3100.

Process improvements for preserving peak freshness in broccoli (2)

Status: Completed project

Pillar: Consumer Alignment

Key research provider: Applied Horticultural Research

What was it all about? Despite broccoli’s image as a healthy, nutritious and flavoursome vegetable, sales can be constrained by the product’s quality at the retail level, and disappointing storability after purchase. This project examined some of the factors that could increase or decrease the retail freshness of broccoli including harvest time, delay before cooling, cooling method and packaging materials. Researchers also tested a novel method of reducing yellowing of broccoli.

The research found delays in cooling and temperature fluctuations during transport have the potential to greatly reduce broccoli freshness at retail. It seems likely that poor postharvest temperature management is a key factor in the observed variability in retail quality and short storage life after purchase.

The work found that vacuum cooling immediately after harvest and hydrocooling can retain quality and increase the weight of harvested broccoli. It also found leaving harvested broccoli in the field, rather than transporting the produce straight to the packing shed, can increase weight loss by up to six per cent.

Timing of harvest was also identified as a crucial factor in broccoli quality – the greatest gains in weight during cooling were observed in produce harvested at 6am, with the smallest increase at 4pm (though broccoli was sweetest at this time).


Look for an update on the project’s trials of SmartFresh™, an in-box treatment that was shown to reduce yellowing and extend shelf life, in an upcoming edition of Vegetables Australia magazine. You can also revisit some of the projects findings from this edition of VegeNotes, published during 2016.

Increasing consumption and sales by developing community awareness and benefits of vegetables

Status: Completed project

Pillar: Consumer Alignment

Key research provider: Deakin University

What was it all about? Most Australians consume less than the recommended daily intake of vegetables. The objective of this scoping project was to identify how community interventions – such as local farmers’ markets, agritourism and community garden programs – may increase vegetable consumption. A literature review and consultations with organisers of community intervention initiatives found that that certain forms of community engagement with food – including growing food at home, and food growing and sharing among neighbourhoods –  can contribute to food security. On top of that, it can encourage interest in increasing variety and the amount of vegetables consumed.

Addressing vegetable consumption through foodservice organisations (chefs, TAFEs and other training institutions)

Status: Completed project

Pillar: Consumer Alignment

Key research provider: Workshop Australia

What was it all about? This scoping study is the first step toward helping boost the nation’s vegetable consumption through food service industry, engaging chefs and hospitality students through TAFEs and other training institutions. Researchers used a desktop study, in-depth interviews and group discussions to determine where there are gaps and opportunities to share more knowledge around Australian vegetables. From this, an outline for a training program has been developed. When implemented in the next steps, the program will be led by a celebrity chef and help recruit, educate and impact on those in the food industry at all stages of their careers.

Among the main outputs of this work was a training program outline developed for people at all stages of their food industry careers.

On farm evaluation of vegetable seed viability using non-destructive techniques

Status: Completed project

Pillar: Farm Productivity & Resource Use Management

Key research provider: The University of Queensland

What was it all about? Vegetable crops that are field-established from seed need high seed quality for maximum return on investment. To this end, this project aimed to provide the Australian vegetable industry with a range of recommendations to overcome poor seed quality and viability on farm. Researchers interviewed growers, conducted farm visits and surveys, and undertook a comprehensive literature review, looking at available technologies that may assist in screening seed viability on-farm; how these technologies can be used within the Australian vegetable industry; and providing recommendations for new technology for real-time, on-farm grading of seed viability pre-planting.

Among the outcomes were recommendations for the development of novel technologies with the potential for real-time grading to maximise vegetable seed quality and a long-term program to optimise seed quality at the seed production and postharvest phase.


Among the outputs of this project were three industry bulletins with more information, circulated in industry channels. Read the first bulletin, summarising grower survey results and on-farm issues, here.

Protected cropping – review of research and identification of R&D gaps for levied vegetables

Status: New and now completed project

Pillar: Farm Productivity & Resource Use Management

Key research provider: Colo Consulting

What was it all about? This project set out to better understand the R&D needs of the levy-paying component of the protected cropping sector. It involved an extensive literature review and gap analysis of protected cropping research needs. Light levels and condition, root zone management, biostimulates, pollination and the real-time monitoring of plant conditions were just some of the research gaps identified as part of the project, and are set to inform future investments in the protected cropping space.


With well over one hundred projects in the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund program, there’s a lot going on! In addition to the new and completed projects above, below you’ll find a brief synopsis of all ongoing work for the industry. Either click on a project name below to go straight to its quick overview, or scroll down to browse through.

Remember that you’ll regularly find information on investments through the communications program and other extension projects – and don’t forget that for any questions relating to the Vegetable Fund, you can contact Hort Innovation’s Relationship Managers for the industry.



Projects in this pillar include…

  • Surveillance of tomato potato psyllid in the Eastern States and South Australia (MT16016), designed to bolster psyllid surveillance for the early detection of tomato potato psyllid (TPP) should it cross from Western Australia into South Australia and the eastern states, including Tasmania. Surveillance involves potato crops as well as other solonaceous vegetables including capsicum, eggplant and chilli – especially those grown in greenhouses. The project offer growers access to sticky traps for participation in the national TPP surveillance program. For more information, and to access traps, contact trapping program coordinator Raylea Rowbottom on 0428 745 752 or at Trapping protocols are also available here. The project has also been facilitating training workshops on TPP, including how to identify the pest and the plant damage it causes, as well as quarantine and biosecurity. Look for any upcoming events in industry channels and find pre-recorded presentation slides covering the content delivered through previous training sessions on the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture website. For more info, see this quick profile on Raylea and the surveillance program, from the last edition of Hortlink. This work is for and funded by both the vegetable and potato industries.
  • National tomato potato psyllid (TPP) program coordinator (MT16018), which is responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of a national tomato potato psyllid (TPP) management strategy – essentially helping ensure research and development, engagement and other response efforts related to the pest across the various industries and areas it affects are coordinated, prioritised and strategic. In mid-October, Alan Nankivell began in the role of national TPP program coordinator under the project. He will now act as a point of contact between the various TPP-affected industries, government and service providers, to help implement TPP management in Western Australia and prepare eastern-state growers. As reported in the last edition of Hortlink, a key component of the project will be strong communication with growers – look for updates on the project’s efforts and TPP in general in industry channels. You can also learn more about the new TPP program coordinator and the project’s work here, on p8 of the October/November 2017 edition of Potatoes Australia magazine. This flyer also gives a quick overview of the program. This work is for and funded by both the vegetable and potato industries.
  • Improving processing vegetable yields through improved production practices (VG16011) which, in the face of rising competition form imported processed vegetables, is tasked with identifying, assessing and bringing to growers new innovations for raising productivity or reducing costs for processing vegetable crops. It aims to grow yields for processing broccoli, carrot, cauliflower, green beans and sweet corn.
  • Optimising cover cropping for the Australian vegetable industry (VG16068), a project that began in mid-2017 to support Australian vegetable growers in effectively using cover crops to boost soil health and reap productivity benefits. Bringing together a consortium of research partners, it is building on existing cover crop trial sites and establishing new ones to explore the how, why and when to best use cover crops across Australia’s main vegetable growing regions. It is exporing cover crop species, cropping sequences, sowing windows and transition practices under a range of soil types, climates and crops, and ultimately deliver clear grower guidelines for using cover cropping that are specific to growing regions.
  • RD&E program for control, eradication and preparedness for vegetable leafminer (MT16004), which is for and funded by the vegetable and nursery industries. It is set to bolster preparedness for and protection against the potential spread of vegetable leafminer (Liriomyza sativae) through Australian growing regions. The pest is capable of infesting a broad range of crops, and was first detected on the country’s mainland in 2015, in a backyard garden in the Cape York Peninsula community of Seisia. If you missed it in other channels, download this project awareness flyer for a quick project summary. You can also see a project overview – including key info on vegetable leafminer – in the article from p12 in the November/December 2017 edition of Vegetables Australia magazine
  • Gap analysis and economic assessment for protected cropping vegetables in tropical Australia (VG16024), which was wrapping up at the time of writing. It has looked at protected cropping opportunities and technology for the vegetable industry in Australia’s tropics – identifying gaps in current information, and assessing the practical and economic viabilities of protected cropping options in these regions.
  • Optimising benefits of vermiculture in commercial-scale vegetable farms (VG15037), which is investigating the use of commercial-scale vermiculture in the Australian vegetable industry to improve productivity (with vermiculture the cultivation of earthworms to convert organic waste into compost and/or for direct soil integration and management). Its end-goal is to develop guidelines for the use of vermiculture as part of soil and nutrient management, and provide a cost/benefit analysis to help growers decide whether to adopt the approach. The first of the project’s fact sheets for growers, Working with worms – improving productivity using vermiculture in commercial vegetable growing, is available to download here.
  • Advanced stable fly management for vegetable producers (VG15002), which began in 2015 to investigate strategies to reduce the development of stable flies in crop residues left after vegetable harvest. As well as assessing the ability of the flies to lay eggs on residues, it is looking at the use of new machinery for deep burial of crop residues; the use of biological agents including beneficial fungi and predatory insects; and non-chemical approaches to removing stable flies from carrier animals. The standout development to date is the potential discovered for burial and compaction of post-harvest residues to dramatically reduce stable fly development from crop residues. Burial takes egg-laying and developmental substrate (the rotting crop residues) away from the flies. It can be done with either stone buriers or mould board ploughs, which are more typically used in broadacre farming. The process has other production benefits for growers, including breaking up the soil hard pan that can develop due to continual use of rotary hoe machinery, and preparing the soil for the next crop.
  • Using autonomous systems to guide vegetable decision making on-farm (VG15003). Using the well-known Ladybird and RIPPA robots in both trial-farm and commercial-farm settings, this project is advancing the application of robotics, intelligent sensing systems, precision agriculture automation and more in Australia’s vegetable industry. It is developing, evaluating and supporting the commercialisation and adoption of such technologies, with the end goal of increasing industry productivity, particularly in relation to brassica, lettuce and baby leaf growing. Applications will help improve crop performance and resource use – including through the precision application of inputs – and assist in decision making by providing timely and accurate information such as predictions of optimum harvest time and the estimation of yield and product quality. The project is linked to Evaluating and testing autonomous systems developed in VG15003 in Australian vegetable production systems (VG15059), which is responsible for expanding evaluation of technologies across a range of growing regions and crops.
  • Investigating novel glass technologies and photovoltaic in protected cropping (VG15038), which began in 2016 and is collaborating with project Research and operations to trial innovative glass and photovoltaic technologies in protected cropping (VG16070) to improve energy-efficient design and energy use in greenhouses. The projects have a focus on the use of ‘smart glass’, semi-transparent photovoltaic glass (STPVG) and solar thermal collector technologies (STC). They will deliver a reliable and comprehensive evaluation of and guide to using these innovative technologies.
  • Soil condition management – extension and capacity building (VG13076), which is the industry’s well-respected Soil Wealth initiative, and Extension of integrated crop protection information (VG13078), which is the industry’s Integrated Crop Protection initiative. Both are soon to wrap up as individual projects, with their work amalgamated into a single Soil Weath and Integrated Crop Protection program as part of phase 2. In the meantime, the projects have continued to deliver essential information on soil, pest and disease management to help vegetable growers implement practical, economically sound, sustainable practices within their businesses. Avenues of delivery have included direct engagement with growers and horticulture advisors; demonstrations of new innovations on grower properties; workshops; farm walks; webinars hosted by relevant experts; social media; and the delivery of resources such as factsheets, videos and web content. For full information and resources for both projects, visit
  • Vegetable industry minor use program (VG16020). Through this project, levy funds and Australian Government contributions are used to renew and apply for new minor use permits for the vegetable industry. These submissions are prepared and submitted to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). The minor use program is also supported by the project Generation of residue, efficacy and crop safety data for pesticide applications in horticulture crops 2017 (ST16006) which, as the name suggests, is responsible for generating data to support a range of permit applications for a range of industries. Project ST16006 uses grant funds from the Australian Government’s Agvet program, plus some levy contributions. All current minor use permits for the industry are searchable at Permit updates are also circulated in Hort Innovation’s Growing Innovation e-newsletter, which levy-paying members receive monthly. Not a member? Sign up to our membership program for free here.
  • Vision systems, sensing and sensor networks to manage risks and increase productivity in vegetable production systems (VG15024), which began in late 2015 and is all about the application of automation, robotics, vision systems and sensing technologies (specifically hyperspectral imaging and wireless sensor networks) in the vegetable industry. It has a particular focus on rapid yield assessment and earlier problem detection, to increase on-farm productivity and manage risks.
  • Adoption of precision systems technology in vegetable production (VG16009), which in early 2017 to support the vegetable industry in adopting precision agriculture technologies. It is responsible for developing case-study farms in each state for research and extension – including training events and field days – and will develop video and fact-sheet resources to showcase potential applications of relevant precisions technologies.
  • Improved skill for regional climate in the ACCESS-based POAMA model (VG13092). POAMA is the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology’s seasonal prediction system, and ACCESS is a new national modelling system for applications ranging from weather forecasting to climate change projections. This project represents a component of work, evaluating improvements to the ACCESS model and allowing the vegetable industry to feed into its development. The overall aim is to provide improved spatial and temporal forecasting in regions of interest to vegetable growers. The next version of the modelling system, ACCESS-S1, is due to become operational in the near future.
  • Facilitating adoption of IPM through a participatory approach with local advisors and industry – training component (VG15034), which is working to increase the uptake of integrated pest management (IPM) practices among vegetable growers. There is an initial focus on South Australian activities, with a view to expand to other regions. The project is supported by Facilitating adoption of IPM through a participatory approach with local advisors and industry – coordination component (VG15035).
  • Improved management options for cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (VG15013), a project established in 2016 to help combat the threat of cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV). Its work includes identifying weed hosts of the virus and the potential role of other factors, including honey bees, in its incidence. It is also developing improved diagnostics for plant and seed material, with a view to developing in-field tests for rapid detection, and producing guidelines and other materials to support improved virus management and help growers strengthen on-farm biosecurity.
  • Improved knowledge of factors contributing to carrot rot (VG15066), which began in 2017 to investigate carrot crown rot, a disease that has been identified as a major constraint to carrot production in Tasmania. It will be responsible for determining the complex causes of the rot, and the field and soil factors that are conducive to its development in Tasmanian production regions.
  • Characterisation of a carlavirus of French bean (VG15073), which is characterising a new carlavirus found infecting Fabaceae crops in South East Queensland, and is set to identify potential distribution and incidence of the virus in other French bean production regions of Australia. Importantly, the project will develop and help growers adopt management strategies for the virus, resulting in improved pack-out, increased marketable yield and a reduction in the impact of the disease.
  • Impact of pesticides on beneficial arthropods of importance in Australian vegetable production (VG16067), which began in April 2017. As its name suggests, it is developing information on the impact of pesticides on insects and mites that play a beneficial role in the Australian vegetable industry. This information is essential for making decisions about the use of pesticides in vegetable crops that are grown using integrated pest management. To help improve pest management with minimal and appropriate use of insecticides, for growers and their advisor the project will develop a user-friendly management guide around this information, based on crop type.
  • Vegetable agrichemical pest management needs and priorities (VG16060). Beginning in May 2017, this project aims to prioritise agrichemical efforts. With close consultation with growers, it is tasked with identify pest priorities for vegetable commodities. These outcomes will aid in updating industry Strategic Agrichemical Review Processes (SARPs), inform industry direction at the annual AgChem Collaborative Forum, and lead the progression of minor use permits and chemical registrations.
  • A strategic approach to weed management for the Australian vegetable industry (VG15070), which was established at the end of 2016 to deliver weed management tools and approaches. The four-year project will identify and improve integrated management strategies for high-priority weeds and develop guidelines and a host of resources for growers. It will ultimately help reduce the dependence on herbicides and tillage for weed control, which can become ineffective when used repeatedly.
  • Review of the National Biosecurity Plan for the Vegetable Industry (VG15065), which began in 2016 and is reviewing the industry’s current biosecurity plan. The revised plan will identify the current highest-risk pests to the industry, the risk mitigation activities needed to reduce the biosecurity threat, and the surveillance and diagnostic activities and capabilities available.
  • Strengthened biosecurity for the Australian vegetable industry – stage 2 (VG15020), an ongoing project that supports the activities of the Vegetable Industry Biosecurity Advisor at AUSVEG. The advisor coordinates industry input into a range of biosecurity matters, and helps ensure effective communication of relevant technical information on biosecurity to growers. During the course of this year, the advisor has had a particular focus on providing advice following detection of tomato potato psyllid (TPP) in Western Australia.
  • Innovative solutions for management of tospoviruses of vegetable crops (VG14063), an ongoing project that aims to address gaps in DNA sequence information for Australian tospoviruses, which infect a broad range of horticulture crops. This information is critical for the development of diagnostics and for management. The project also aims to generate information on host-pathogen interactions that may lead to identification of novel genes for resistance and help deliver broad-spectrum resistance to tospoviruses.
  • Management and detection of bacterial leaf spot in capsicum and chilli crops (VG14010), an ongoing project that aims to increase the capacity of the vegetable industry to implement integrated disease management programs for bacterial leaf spot of capsicum and chilli field crops. It is identifying causal agents of the disease, reviewing existing research, filling in knowledge gaps, and investigating control measures.
  • Precision seeding benefits for processing pea production (VG15039), which began in late 2016 to help improve the productivity and profitability of processing peas in Tasmania specifically. It is evaluating stand density and plant spatial arrangements, and exploring ways to modify plant structure from single to multiple stems at establishment to increase overall number of pods on the first and seconds nodes that flower (these are the nodes which contribute to over 90 per cent of overall yield). The project is also evaluating commercial seeders and establishment practices.
  • Improving soilborne disease diagnostic capacity for the Australian vegetable industry (VG15009), an ongoing project that is using world-leading DNA testing technology to provide growers with a way to assess the risk of soilborne diseases caused by select pathogens prior to planting. This knowledge, when applied with sound disease and soil health management strategies, will contribute to a reduction in the losses from soil-borne diseases. The project has close links with A multi-faceted approach to soilborne disease management (VG15010), described above, and is currently focussed on soil tests for club root in brassicas and cavity spot and forking in carrots.
  • Global Innovations in Horticulture Seminar (VG15032), an ongoing project responsible for delivering annual Global Innovations in Horticulture Seminars. These events bring the industry together to discuss emerging technologies and sciences relating to horticulture, conveying knowledge about up-to-date practices, showcasing new opportunities for levy investment, and promoting collaboration between vegetable producers and researchers on a global scale. The 2017 Seminar was held in May, directly before the opening of the Hort Connections conference and trade show. An event wrap-up can be found here.
  • Data analytics and app technology to guide on-farm irrigation (VG15054), which has developed and is improving a mobile app to help guide irrigation decisions on-farm. Download the current version of the free app – called The Yield – from Google Play or Apple’s App Store from your phone.
  • Enhanced National Bee Pest Surveillance Program (MT16005), which is delivering a nationally coordinated bee-pest surveillance program to help safeguard honey-bee and pollinator-dependent industries in Australia. It builds upon the previous National Bee Pest Surveillance Program (MT12011), and includes upgrading sentinel hive arrays, strengthening relationships with surveillance operators, the introduction of new elements such as Asian hornet screening and more. The surveillance is designed to enable the early detection of high-priority pest incursions that can impact on honey bees, providing the best opportunity for successful pest eradication. The vegetable industry is one of several contributors to the project’s work.
  • SITplus: Developing and optimising production of a male-only, temperature-sensitive-lethal, strain of Qfly, B. tryoni (MT13059), which is developing a ‘temperature-sensitive lethal, male-selecting’ strain of Queensland fruit fly (Qfly). To put simply, the research will allow for male-only, sterile fruit flies to be bred in large numbers. It is one of the key projects in the broader strategic co-investment SITplus initiative that’s tackling the issue of Qfly. The male flies are to ultimately be released in growing regions of south-eastern Australian that are affected by Qfly. They will come to outnumber the wild male population in these areas and by mating with wild females – and limiting the opportunity for wild males to do so – they are intended to lead to the collapse of wild Qfly populations. The vegetable industry is one of several involved in the project.


Projects in this pillar include…

  • Vegetable industry export program (VG16061). Beginning in mid-2017, this project will position the industry to achieve the target of growing exports by 40 per cent – to the value of $315 million – by 2020. This target was announced earlier in 2017, with the release of the Vegetable Industry Export Market Development Strategy 2020. Read more about the strategy here and contact AUSVEG on (03) 9882 0277 to access a copy of the full strategy document. Expanding on previous export development work, activities under the project will broadly include market development and market access work, plus export readiness, training and education for growers and other stakeholders, to prepare the industry to take advantage of export opportunities.
  • Improving safety of vegetable produce through on-farm sanitation, using electrolysed oxidising (EO) water (VG15068), which began in mid-2017 to test whether ‘electrolysed oxidising’ or ‘EO’ water can be used to increase the quality of vegetable irrigation water. This electricity-charged sanitisation approach, and how it could benefit the Australian vegetable industry, was described in more detail in this news article from Hort Innovation, released when the project was first announced. Specific project activities include comparing the efficiency of EO water with that of other options for treating irrigation water for relevant water-borne pathogens; discerning whether EO water treatment can prevent potential microbial contamination or fresh produce pre-harvest; assessing the ability of EO water to control soil pathogens, and any effect on important soil microorganisms; and ultimately developing protocols for EO water adoption by Australia’s vegetable growers.
  • Export development of Australian vegetables to Japan (VG15074). With Japan Australia’s leading export market for vegetables, this project is tasked with working with Australian growers and the Japanese market to expand and sustain vegetable exports. It follows on from previous Vegetable Fund work focussing on export development specifically for broccoli (VG13048), which saw broccoli re-introduced to the Japanese market in 2015 and led to the exporting of other vegetables. The project involves consumer research and competitor analysis in Japan, identification of potential barriers to exports, and a range of market development and collaborative exporting opportunities.
  • ProbiSafe – developing biocontrol agents to inhibit pathogen growth (VG16005), which began in 2016 with a focus on keeping vegetables healthy and safe. It is developing, verifying and ultimately making available new biological control agents (new strains/blends of beneficial bacteria termed ‘ProbiSafe’) to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria on vegetables. The result will be an additional level of safety in both fresh and processed produce.
  • Improved management of pumpkin brown etch (VG15064), a project that seeks to improve the management of brown etch, also known as ‘rust mark’, in pumpkin crops. The research is set to confirm the cause and environmental conditions conducive to brown etch; investigate varietal resistance/susceptibility in current commercial varieties; develop and evaluate suitable control measures; and extend management strategies to growers. The project team is keen to hear from growers who have seen or who are currently experiencing brown etch in their crops, or would otherwise like to be involved in the project. Contact Dr Jenny Ekman at AHR on 0407 384 285 or at
  • Horticulture trade intelligence reporting 2017-2019 (MT16011), which is responsible for providing easy-to-read and easy-to-act-upon trade performance information to Australia’s horticulture industry. Quarterly vegetable reports are made available for download here, in the resources section of Hort Innovation’s Vegetable Fund page.
  • Creating value from edible vegetable waste(VG15076), established at the end of 2016. Addressing the issue of vegetable wastage on-farm and post-farm-gate, this project is developing new knowledge and processes to improve recovery of edible material. Avenues of exploration include the extraction of ‘nutraceuticals’ from vegetable waste; the processing of edible waste into new fibre-rich, healthy raw ingredients and food products; and the use of fermentation to develop next-generation fermented vegetables. The project has a focus on brassica vegetables and carrots.
  • Removing barriers of food safety certification for vegetable exporters though GLOBALG.A.P. co-certification (VG16019), which has been supporting the benchmarking of the Freshcare Food Safety and Quality Standard (FSQ4) against the internationally recognised GlobalG.A.P. standard. Successful completion of this benchmarking, and recognition of the Freshcare Standard by GlobalG.A.P., will help streamline compliance processes for Australian growers accessing export markets.


Projects in this pillar include…

  • The EnviroVeg Program 2017-2022 (VG16063). The EnviroVeg Program is the industry’s environmental best management practice (BMP) program, and has existed in evolving forms since 2000. It involves a range of resources and services so that Australian vegetable growers can benchmark and improve their BMPs and showcase their environmental credentials through certification. This latest iteration is working to align components from EnviroVeg, Hort360 and Freshcare Environmental to deliver a clear pathway to environmental assurance for Australian vegetable growers, as it continues to support and improve environmental management on-farm and develop environmental recognition for industry participants.This new iteration also includes the EnviroVeg Pilot Program, a funded pathway through EnviroVeg to reach Freshcare Environmental certification and attain the best practice benefits of environmentally responsible, sustainable vegetable production. Applications are now open to take part in this pilot– to find out more and to register your interest, review and complete the What is the EnviroVeg Pilot Program – register your interest form and return to You can also find more information on EnviroVeg, sign up for free, and complete a self-assessment here. The website also includes quarterly updates on the program and resources including case studies and how-to guides.
  • Development of a vegetable education resource – stage 2 (VG15067), which is readying a vegetable education resource, developed for use by teachers in Australian primary schools through previous Vegetable Fund project VG13089, prior to its national roll-out. Ultimately, the resource is expected to positively influence vegetable consumption and therefore increase demand. The project is referred to as ‘VERTICAL’ – the Vegetable Education Resource to Increase Children’s Acceptance and Liking.
  • Market opportunity for vegetable juices (VG16016), which began in early 2017 and aims to better understand the market opportunity for vegetable juices. In its course, the project will estimate the size and composition of this market in Australia, while identifying consumer attitudes and behaviours around vegetable juices – and what might lead to an increase in consumption. It will ultimately provide recommendations to help growers and other industry stakeholders take advantage of opportunities to increase Australia’s vegetable juice consumption.


Projects in this pillar include…

  • Growing Leaders (VG15030). This project is responsible for running the growing Leaders program – the only national, industry-specific leadership program for the vegetable industry. Applications for the 2018 course are now open, closing on January 15, 2018. Apply here. The program develops the leadership capacity of diverse participants from across the vegetable industry supply chain, building their personal, business and industry skills and knowledge to help transform the industry through vision, engagement, action and leadership.
  • Vegetable industry communication program 2016-2019 (VG15027), which is responsible for effectively communicating the findings of levy-funded R&D and other relevant industry news, issues and data to growers and other industry stakeholders. The ultimate goal is to increase awareness of project outcomes and inspire on-farm adoption of new learnings and technologies. A number of regular communication channels continue to be produced and maintained by this project, including but not limited to:
    • Weekly e-newsletter Weekly Update
    • The bi-monthly Vegetables Australia magazine, with current and back issues available here
    • Vegenotes factsheets, available to download here
    • Annual publication Grower Success Stories, also available from the above links
    • InfoVeg services
    • Social media updates in AUSVEG channels including Twitter
    • The project also provides media relations for R&D-related news, including the production and distribution of media releases.
  • 2016-18 European Industry Leadership and Development Mission – Berlin Fruit Logistica (VG15701), which supports industry participation at the Berlin Fruit Logistica trade fair as part of overseas missions also incorporating visits to leading agribusinesses overseas. The project helps strengthen relationships between Australian growers and international, colleagues, adds knowledge and value to the industry through communication activities, and plays a role in identifying and developing future leaders for Australian horticulture. At the time of writing, expressions or interest were open for the 2018 mission, to take place from February 4 to 11. Learn more in this mission flyer and to express your interest in intending, contact
  • USA Industry Leadership and Development Mission 2016-2018 (VG15702), which supports annual missions to America for similar purposes as the European development missions described in project VG15701 above. At the time of writing, expressions of interest were open for the 2018 mission, which will see participants travel to California, Arizona and Florida from February 3 to 16, 2018, to visit leading vegetable-growing operations, research centres agribusinesses and the World Ag Expo. Contact for more.
  • Vegetable Young Grower Development Mission and Women’s Development Missions (VG15703). This project supports both Young Grower Development Missions (international tours that focus on increasing the leadership capacity of the younger generation of Australian vegetable growers) and Women’s Development Missions (which have a specific focus on supporting female members of the industry). As with the other development mission projects described above, these opportunities expose growers to international industries and markets, providing opportunities for education and the chance to see innovations being pursued around the world. They also promote networking and relationship building, and provide the chance for industry to identify growers suited to leadership roles. The 2017 Young Grower Industry Leadership and Development Mission – Europe took place in October, while the 2017 Women’s Industry Leadership and Development Mission – Asia took place in September. Look for future opportunities in industry channels.
  • Financial performance of Australian vegetable farms 2016-2017 to 2018-2019 (VG15077), which is responsible for producing annual economic surveys of the vegetable industry, collecting comprehensive production and financial performance data, production intentions and issues of particular interest to industry stakeholders. Under previous project Financial performance of Australian vegetable farms 2013-2014 to 2015-2016 (VG13068), the most recent report was released in February 2017. The Australian vegetable-growing farms: An economic survey, 2014–15 and 2015–16 is available here.
  • Nuffield scholarship (VG14065), a project that provides funding to support Nuffield Scholars in the vegetable industry, with one Hort Innovation scholarship being awarded each year of the project’s life from 2016 to 2019. Nuffield Scholarships are a chance for Australians in agriculture to grow their practical knowledge and a broad variety of skills, while heading overseas to study a topic related to their industry. The 2018 Nuffield Scholar was announced in September 2017 as Steve Grist, from Koah, Queensland. Through his scholarship, Steve will research how growers can adapt from large broadacre farms to more dynamic systems such as small plot intensive (‘SPIN’), bio-intensive, syntropic and permaculture farming systems.


What is Hort Frontiers?

Hort Frontiers is Hort Innovation’s strategic partnership initiative, formerly known as ‘Pool 2’. It is responsible for developing collaborative cross-industry projects that endeavour to solve major and often complex challenges crucial to securing the future of Australian horticulture. Hort Frontiers projects are funded via a combination of Australian Government funding and co-investments brokered and managed by Hort Innovation. Co-investors range from research institutes to commercial partners, and can also include individual levy industries.

How is the vegetable industry involved?

Vegetable levy has been co-invested in the following Hort Frontiers projects…

  • Global Masterclass in Horticultural Business (LP15001), a project that’s part of the Hort Frontiers Leadership Fund. For the 2017 intake and again for 2018, through this project the vegetable levy has funded scholarships for industry levy-payers to take part in the Masterclass in Horticultural Business course.Applications for the 2018 scholarships are open now, until all places are taken – so don’t miss your chance! Learn more and apply here. You can also watch a short video on the Masterclass here.Hugh Reardon, of Dicky Bill Farming, recently completed the 2017 Masterclass. “The course is structured but has flexibility,” he said. “The teaching staff know life outside the Masterclass is busy. The learning is relevant and with immediate application, and you submit assignments that solve real problems you encounter daily. During the face to face sessions, you get unique and candid access to like-minded businesses and business people. You can learn what you don’t know or build on the knowledge you already have.”
  • Attracting new entrants into Australian horticulture – promoting careers in horticulture (LP15006), a Leadership Fund project that is engaging graduate students with the horticulture industry. It has a two-phase approach designed to attract the right people, retain them and support their ongoing leadership development. The first phase involves students undertaking internships within horticulture business, for which funding support is offered for both the student and the business. The second phase involves employment of students following graduation, with Hort Innovation co-investing to support the first year salary and participation in a five-day leadership program.  Learn more in this case study with nursery business Fresh Leaf Herbs, who took part in the project’s pilot run. If you’d like to learn more about how your own business can participate in the program, contact Rimfire Resources at or on 1300 380 701, and read more here. If you know a student who would like to apply for the program, they can do so at
  • Stingless bees as effective managed pollinators for Australian horticulture (PH16000), a project that’s part of the Hort Frontiers Pollination Fund. Newly contracted, it will examine native stingless bees for their suitability as alternative pollinators, in the face of threats to wild honey bee populations such as Varroa mite. The project will compile and review existing evidence, before conducting in-field studies on a variety of crops, as well as studying stingless bees under glasshouse conditions. Learn more here.
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