Growing Innovation: Issue 10, June 29, 2016

NT shares new knowledge with pineapple industry

Close to 40 pineapple growers undertook a three day study tour in the Northern Territory last week to look at how growers in the region deal with the multitude of issues brought on by their remoteness.

The study tour aimed to broaden knowledge with some of the innovations that are happening in horticulture in the NT. The tour visited a range of farms including pineapples, melons, asparagus, and mangoes as well as the NT Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPIF) Coastal Plains Research Farm to view passionfruit, mangoes, logans and cocoa.

With reduced access to services, the difficulty of obtaining farm supplies like fertilisers and the increased complexity of getting fruit back to market, NT growers rely on innovations across the supply chain to enable their self-sufficiency and complex logistics.

The group visited Piñata Farm which commenced the first NT commercial size pineapple operation in Darwin just over three years ago. Piñata sells its fruit locally and has better access to the Western Australia fruit market, meaning it does not compete with fruit from other regions. This allows it to supply of fruit all year round to the market.

The tour also took in DPIF Katherine Research Station where quinoa trials and hemp trials for fodder and fibre and underway.

The Katherine Research Station also features one of the most innovative packing sheds in Australia in terms of automation and monitoring for enhanced traceability and quality assurance. The packing shed is shared by local farms to pool costs as it is only used by each for about eight weeks per year.

The Pineapple Industry Development Officer, funded by Hort Innovation*, Georgie Townsend, said “The study tour is a great opportunity to see how things are done in the top end and to also spend some time with agronomists and other advisors in the Pineapple Industry. It is always important to keep up with is happening across the industry and also the wider horticultural industry.

Adapting to climates to manage crops in varying conditions and deploying the infrastructure to suit differing temperatures can support horticulture industries’ work to supply the market all year round,” she said.

The pineapple industry has had a study group program for over eight years, and decided this year to visit the NT to get a different perspective on pineapple farming and innovation.

* Funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited using the pineapple levy and funds from the Australian Government.
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