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Townsville grower refuses to be held back by drought

Publication date: 2 November 2018

Grower profile – Lachlan Moncrieff, Townsville QLD

Relentless drought in Townsville didn’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 undertook a 10-month Masterclass last year in Horticultural Business – which was funded by Hort Innovation and delivered by the University of Tasmania with world-leading agriculture university Wageningen Academy 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 Horticulture Innovation Australia scholarship, is incomparable.”

Lachlan explored 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 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.”

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 Nursery & Garden Industry Queensland 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 about the Masterclass in Horticultural Business (and hear straight from Lachlan)? Watch Hort Innovation’s video on the course here.

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Published: Growing Innovation, March 2017