Australian macadamia industry innovation and adoption program (MC15004)
What’s it all about?
Beginning in 2016, this project aims to enhance the adoption of innovation and technology, and facilitate capacity building, in the Australian macadamia industry. It supports the role and activities of a dedicated macadamia industry productivity development manager (MIPDM).
Activities facilitated by the MIPDM and run through the project include…
- MacGroup workshops
- Regular grower meetings and annual consultants’ meetings
- Field days and trips
- The production of communication materials such as videos and content for industry publications.
The MIPDM is also responsible for undertaking constant engagement with growers and the wider industry, management of emerging issues, and the identification and development of new opportunities for the industry.
Notification of upcoming MacGroups, meetings and other program events are included in levy-funded Australian Macadamia Society channels, including on the website here and in industry e-newsletters (if you don’t already receive these, use the ‘Subscribe to AMS eNews’ green box on the AMS website).
The project successfully engaged a large majority of growers and industry affiliates within the macadamia industry via numerous well-attended events (some held virtually) and the development of extension material which was highly valued by growers, consultants and processor representatives.
The team ensured that:
- Research and development outcomes were supported and extended to industry, with emerging issues addressed
- Relevant industry updates, innovative and best practice information was shared via Bulletins, eNews, factsheets, videos, podcasts and online, including COVID-19 information and farm adaptation practices
- Industry expansion and regional issues were supported as well as assistance provided to new entrants
- Production analysis for the 2020 season was provided to industry
- MacGroup meetings were held in six regions with strong grower attendance
- Crop protection changes, best practice guidelines and legislative responsibilities were shared across the sector
- Assistance was provided to growers for drought mitigation, storm recovery, bushfire preparedness and recovery, and environmental monitoring.
A collaborative relationship continues with research organisation, with this project a major source of extension to the macadamia industry. There is clear evidence amongst growers of positive practice change and a willingness to adapt growing practices led by the project’s focus on innovation and adoption.
This long-term project continues to successfully engage the macadamia industry, largely via hosting events for growers and other stakeholders and developing extension materials. These are discussed in more detail below.
Developing extension materials
- With recent strong investment that has seen the planting of at least another 2,000ha of trees, increased inputs and large corporate farm enterprises entering the sector, the project team engaged with these new growers and communicated innovative practices to the wider industry
- The expansion of new macadamia growing regions in central to north Queensland and in NSW between the Richmond and Clarence Valleys has been mostly cane conversions. To assist these new developments, fact sheets about growing macadamia in these newer coastal flood plain areas were developed and extended (available from the Australian Macadamia Society website for registered levy payers).
- 2019 saw a focus on Integrated Pest and Disease Management (IPM) in response to a growing social license challenge faced in growing regions, market demand for more sustainably grown products, and the need for Australia to retain its global clean, green reputation
- For 2020 the focus moves to Tree Water Relations via a set of targeted, high level courses aimed at improving irrigation and moisture management knowledge within industry, leading to practice change across all growing regions
Attending and holding industry events
- Research outcomes and industry issues were discussed at MacGroup events, attended by more than 900 growers throughout the year. Water management courses, grower meetings, and a series of field days and field trips were also conducted.
- Extension planning meetings were held with major processors providing extension support services to growers. The AMS supports these events through content formulation, event marketing and coordination.
- An investigative committee event to South Africa was held in July 2019. As the largest macadamia producing origin, the group looked at the country’s production systems, orchard management, top performing farms, high quality nurseries, processing facilities, innovative horticultural practices, and adaptations to environmental challenges. Trip reports were shared with industry at various events.
- Industry representatives attended the inaugural International Macadamia Symposium Council Research & Development Forum in Lincang, China from 5 – 8 November 2019. Researchers from all major and some emerging growing origins met to establish strategic international research collaboration projects. The invited group included at least 20 Australian researchers and research extensionists. International strategic research goals were prioritised and collaborative research groups were established.
- An industry wide 2030 Future Forum was held in November 2019, attended by growers, processor representatives, consultants, AMS board members and staff. The national and global context was examined, and the challenges/opportunities of the macadamia industry were workshopped.
You can watch these videos on a wide range of topics developed by the project team:
- Grass management preview with grass expert Matt Roche (3 min)
- Tree shaker preview with Dan Manson, macadamia product improvement consultant from Sunfarm (2 min)
- Tree water relations with Daniel Manson and Theunis Smit (24 min)
- 2019 tree water relations course, Yamba – Understanding macadamia water transpiration (2h 44m)
- 2019 tree water relations course, Bundaberg – Irrigation Scheduling (1h 25m)
- Nut quality, MacGroup 2020 presentation with Mark Penter (32 min)
- Ethephon use in challenging environmental conditions, MacGroup 2020 presentation with Mark Penter (34 min)
Download and use these fact sheets (available from the Australian Macadamia Society website to registered levy payers):
In addition to providing support to industry consultants, both new and existing growers, and nurseries, the project team has continued to bring together researchers and consultants to develop and extend best management practices for growers.
Key outputs from the project include…
- Macadamia biosecurity brochure developed with Plant Health Australia
- A fact sheet to teach growers about responsible spray practices that maintain bee pollination in the orchard
- A fact sheet to show growers how to monitor for mistletoe and how to manage it in the orchard
- The team produced five videos (links below) highlighting best management practices by visiting five of the top performing macadamia orchards across the state who have recorded outstanding production results.
The program is now undergoing a mid-term review to ensure that extension activities continue to be well targeted.
- Read updates on IPDM strategies and research in the 2018 winter and spring editions of the Australian Macadamia Society News Bulletin.
- Meet the growers from top performing farms that are demonstrating the best management practices:
- Download the macadamia farm biosecurity brochure to find out more about the key principles of orchard biosecurity.
- Learn about responsible spray practices from this fact sheet on maintaining bee pollination in the orchard.
- Find out how to manage and monitor mistletoe in your orchard from this fact sheet.
Earlier this year, Leoni Kojetin was appointed the productivity development manager at the Australian Macadamia Society. Leoni can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 02 6622 4933 with any queries about this program and its activities.
From 2017 and into mid-2018, the program’s focus has been on integrated pest and disease management – helping growers collaboratively develop best practice under an overarching Integrated Orchard Management theme.
For 2018, the MacGroups kicked off in late February, with July sessions also run looking at integrated pest and disease management case studies, diagnostics and regional pest pressures. Biosecurity, pollination and other research updates were also to be covered.
Other recent activities have included…
- Open industry events at the Maroochy Research Facility in February, looking at the industry’s regional variety trials and breeding program, and at the Bundaberg Research Facility in March, looking at the Small – Tree High Productivity initiative. The latter research concerns the effects of planting density, tree training, pruning and cultivars on productivity, and is supported by Hort Innovation through the across-industry investment Transforming subtropical/tropical tree crop productivity (AI13004).
- Continued contribution of practical information for growers to implement on-farm, through industry communication channels including the News Bulletin.
- Continued support for quarterly meetings of the NSW Floodplain Growers’ Interest Group, where the specifics of establishing macadamias in this new growing environment are being explored with industry stakeholders.
- Looking ahead to the International Macadamia Symposium being held in October in Yunnan, China, Leoni will assist in leading an Australian delegation to the event and will be reporting back to the wider industry on learnings.
Check out recent content produced by the program in the Autumn 2018 edition of the industry News Bulletin – this includes harvesting strategy and efficiency tips, information on grower irrigation trials, disaster recovery and more.
Throughout the recent season, the key focus of project activities has been integrated pest and disease management, including monitoring, timing and spray coverage. The MIPDM role has brought together industry consultants to develop common knowledge on the subject; facilitated presentations from experts on integrated pest and disease management at MacGroup meetings; and developed and distributed resources including fact sheets, case studies and region-specific phenological wheel posters.
Regional field trips were also run during September 2017, with a focus on integrated orchard management and integrated orchard nutrition.
- Watch this new video on spray coverage issues (15 mins), produced as part of the project to show how to assess and achieve optimal coverage in macadamia orchards
- Access the integrated pest and disease management phenological wheels for Central Queensland, the New South Wales Mid-North Coast and the Northern Rivers in New South Wales by contacting the Australian Macadamia Society (these were presented at the most recent MacGroups)
Ahead of this year’s season, a key focus of project activities was improving harvest activities. Resources produced and used by the project include…
- This video on improving harvest efficiency, with a focus on fingerwheel harvesters
- These harvest resources that remain collated on the industry website. You can also separately download the harvest strategy checklist and harvest strategy tip sheet with grower experiences.
Also of interest, during last year’s activities the project produced a handy overview of integrated orchard nutrition (ION), including self-assessment questions to identify the opportunity for implementing or improving an ION approach in your business. Access the overview of integrated orchard ION here.
The project’s focus is now moving towards integrated pest management and spray coverage.
This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Macadamia Fund