Setting the course for protected cropping

A strategy to provide direction and support for crops grown under shelter in Australia has been launched. Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia David Littleproud said the Australian Protected Cropping Strategy 2021-2030 is a pathway for the industry to develop.

“Protected cropping is a very broad term, but basically it refers to crops grown within or under a structure, meaning crops can be grown with protection from the elements,” Minister Littleproud said. “The strategy will look to increase knowledge and the capacity of industry to adopt and take advantage of protected cropping systems. With these systems, we can look at developing new markets, both domestically and internationally. There is huge potential for protected cropping, and I’m really excited for what the next decade could bring.”

Hort Innovation Chief Executive Officer Matt Brand said protected cropping-based horticultural production is tipped to grow considerably. “Because protected cropping provides control over growing conditions, a dedicated strategy is vital,” Mr. Brand said. “From high-tech glasshouses to basic covers and nets, protected cropping is becoming a popular choice for Australian horticulture. With input from industry, this strategy provides an important roadmap to drive innovation and competitiveness in the horticulture sector.”

Dr. Jovicich, Program Leader Protected Cropping, said the Australian Protected Cropping Strategy provides horticulture growers, businesses, and industry stakeholders with a clear direction and priorities for investment in research, development, and extension (RD&E) to benefit vegetable, berry, nursery, and tree-fruit value chains. “The strategy is based on extensive consultation with industry stakeholders, as well as an analysis of global trends in the use of protected cropping within horticulture,” Dr. Jovicich said

“For an expansion of protected cropping in Australia, we need to develop and access export markets while growing new domestic markets, increase workforce capacity and capability, and adapt and develop fit-for-purpose cost-effective protected cropping technologies and agronomy practices.

“The industry will also need to assure that the environmental footprint is well managed. A systems approach to RD&E will be required to solve the challenges, and collaboration across industry players will be fundamental.”

Protected Cropping Australia Chief Executive Officer Greg Fraser said the Strategy will prove a useful tool for the industry. “Australia’s horticulture industry has a great capacity and capability to harness the potential of protected cropping systems across a diversity of crops, regions, climates, business models, and markets,” he said.

See the Australian Protected Cropping Strategy 2021-2030 here.

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