Coordination of data management and avocado quality improvement and extension program (AV12012)
This project looks at the coordination of data management and avocado quality improvement and extension with two key objectives. Firstly, to expand on the results of ongoing project National avocado quality & information management system and, secondly, ongoing data management, specifically related to Infocado and OrchardInfo.
Key components of the project included the ongoing coordination of a suite of supply chain improvement projects that collectively form the support systems for the quality improvement and extension program; the establishment and implementation of a quality improvement and extension subprogram (Qualicado), which aimed to improve fruit quality; and management and improvement of Infocado and OrchardInfo.
The project coordinated and contributed resources to a number of other related supply chain and quality projects to ensure synergies between the various projects are captured and extended through coherent, impactful and continuous learning mechanisms.
In total, 16 Qualicado grower workshops were held across eight major production regions and 10 wholesaler workshops were held in five capital cities over the life of the project. Content for these workshops was tailored to meet the needs of participants. In total 732 people attended the workshops in the first phase of the project and 488 people attended workshops in the second phase of the project.
Evaluations from the workshops showed they were well attended and well received by the attendees, with a strong indication that attendees would likely use knowledge gained at these events to improve their practices.
Forty two facility checks (and related report cards and action plans) covering 29 packhouses and 13 ripener/wholesaler facilities were also completed as part of the project. These facility checks provided these businesses with an independent expert review of their infrastructure and quality management practices, with recommendations where improvements could be made.
A review of crop forecasting techniques and the application of remote sensing technologies to support the industry and business data needs was also completed.
Australian avocado benchmarking program development rounds 1 & 2 (AV13003)
The value of enterprise benchmarking increases exponentially as data from multiple years is collected and analysed. An industry benchmarking database compiled from just one financial or data year/period will capture inherent differences between management practices, regions, seasonal conditions and many more aspects of any broadly distributed business activity.
This project is the continuation of the Australian avocado benchmarking program development project. It is the further development of an industry database and benchmarking process that will enable growers to identify and strive for Australian best practice in production, packing and marketing of avocados. By participating in this project and/or learning of and adopting findings from this process, growers will be able to improve farm productivity, produce quality and sustainability.
Insights arising from this project will assist growers to understand relationships between key farm and business practices and the primary outcomes they are aspiring to achieve, namely improved productivity, cost efficiency, quality and consistency of produce.
The outputs from this project will enable comparisons between growers based on a combination of location, business size (turnover, volume or tree numbers) and principal varietal type over multiple years. Motivated growers will then be in a position to identify those areas that impact greatest on their productive and financial performance.
Supply chain quality improvement – technologies and practices to reduce bruising (AV15009)
Measures to effectively eliminate flesh bruising in avocadoes, mostly caused at the end of the supply chain, is the focus of this project. It draws on past research that identified areas for reviewing, reporting, awareness, and gap analysis towards lessening and ideally eliminating flesh bruising in Australian avocado supply chains.
The research aims to develop a project monitoring and evaluation plan; develop and test alternative technologies that would reduce handling by retailers and consumers, including tools for identifying ripeness; and document best practice to prevent fruit bruising at retail for implementation in retail education.
Further, the project looks to review scientific evidence to clarify the relationship between disease and flesh bruising and identify any gaps in research that would elucidate this, while reviewing and documenting contributing factors to fruit susceptibility to bruising.
Having just commenced, this project will be conducted by nationally and internationally renowned Department of Agriculture & Fisheries Queensland (DAF) avocado supply chain, postharvest, and fruit pathology experts, with operations guided by a stakeholder-based Project Steering Committee comprised of avocado industry, Australian Avocados Limited, Hort Innovation, and DAF representation.
A multi-target approach to fruitspotting bug (MT10049)
Fruitspotting bugs are major native pests in more than 25 subtropical and tropical tree fruit and nut crops in Australia, including avocado, with crop losses of more than 50 per cent attributed to the pest. While overall losses are difficult to quantify, these could amount to tens of millions of dollars annually across all industries. A single targeted approach, namely using broad-spectrum insecticides, has been the only management option for growers. This approach is not sustainable in the long-term and a multi-targeted approach needed to be investigated.
The overarching aim of this project was investigation into monitoring options, biological control and chemical alternatives in order to replace endosulfan. This would allow for a more strategic, long-term and sustainable management of the pest.
The main components investigated in this project were chemical control, monitoring, trap cropping, pheromone traps, biological control, mass-rearing for fruitspotting bug and Anastatus sp. and release strategies, Area Wide Management (AWM) and IPM case studies and industry adoption.
Other R&D of note…
Other R&D projects in progress include Avocado rootstock SHSR-04 commercialisation (AV15005), RNA silencing based Phytophthora root rot resistant avocado rootstocks – Phase 2 (AV13000) and Investigating tree mortality during early field establishment (AV14012), scheduled for completion in 2018.
The projects Continuation of foodservice chef training program (AV15001) and Avocado health professional education and research program (AV15000) both have final reports due in the near future, the findings of which will underpin the next steps within the development of the Strategic Investment Plan. The project Data management and quality innovation extension program (AV15004) also continues.
R&D projects within cool chain management and retailer engagement have also recently been contracted.