A nationally-coordinated, regionally-delivered extension program for vegetable growers
The investment VegNet 3.0 (VG21000) is tasked with keeping Australian vegetable growers informed about current R&D activities, results and resources – supporting the adoption of industry best practice and bolstering vegetable productivity and profitability in key growing areas across the country.
The program is nationally coordinated by AUSVEG and delivered on-the-ground by regional development officers (RDOs) in key vegetable-growing regions who are responsible for developing and executing regional extension plans. This includes identifying each region’s key priority issues and key regional resources and links – a critical step in ensuring growers receive assistance and information that meets their needs and will help them grow better crops and operate more efficient and profitable businesses.
Spotlight: Agtech focus yields results for South Australian vegetable industry
In late 2021, regional VegNET SA provider AUSVEG SA led an innovative program to engage with Agtech start-ups in South Australia to improve engagement and knowledge sharing between growers and Agtech companies in the state. These activities were aimed at exposing growers to new technologies which can save time and resources in their businesses.
VegNET SA has developed and delivered a comprehensive program of events in the Agtech space and has been able to attract additional resourcing for their South Australian program through Agrifutures Australia. Events held to date include an introductory Agtech breakfast and tour of growing regions which provided critical introductions between Agtech companies and growers interested in pursuing Agtech opportunities on their farms.
This initial event was attended by over 35 growers and Agtech companies and provided a catalyst for a number of trials and interactions between the companies and growers. As a result of the event, several growers are trialling new sales management applications, water management technologies, field robotic spraying technology and other technologies.
Following on from the initial breakfast, VegNET SA conducted significant follow-up work to assist Agtech companies and growers in facilitating several distributed trials and implemented regular catch-ups with leaders of the SA Agtech Meetup group.
In addition to trial work, VegNET SA partnered with Agrifutures Australia to deliver a dedicated workshop to growers in June, which provided support and information on how to implement Agtech on their properties and develop a specialised Agtech adoption plan. These workshops were very well received by industry. They provided critical support to growers in deciding which emerging technologies to look at and have a comprehensive way of supporting trials within their business to maximise success.
These activities show how VegNET SA has developed a comprehensive and strategic program of activities around Agtech adoption in South Australia as a crucial part of their regional focus on improving efficiency and tech adoption in our industry. As part of the process, they developed a series of connected initiatives to engage growers, with a focus on facilitating trials, showcasing local technologies and providing international learning opportunities.
As part of this process, VegNET SA developed not just a one-off workshop but a comprehensive program of events to support industry on its Agtech journey. Regarding outcomes, VegNET SA has supported successful trials and engagements between emerging Agtech companies and the South Australian industry and delivered several events showing substantial knowledge gains as part of their monitoring and evaluation activities.
VegNET SA’s focus on the Agtech program over the past year and a half has provided a strong base of knowledge and connections to support South Australian growers to adopt Agtech in their farming operations.
“With input costs on the rise, using advanced technology and robotics means we can cut down on costs and be more competitive in the market. Having trials and events that bring tech onto farm is extremely valuable is getting it right.” Chris Musolino, T. Musolino and Co.