Sunday, July 21, 2024

Emerging horticulture leaders awarded Nuffield Scholarships

Three emerging Australian horticulture leaders will travel the world to learn how to apply international best-practice to Australian growing conditions.

Announced at the Nuffield National Conference Annual Awards Dinner in Perth last week, participants in the onion, berry, and vegetable industries each won a 2024 Nuffield Scholarship, funded by research and development levies through Hort Innovation.

The scholars will receive a $35,000 bursary to research “cutting-edge” production techniques and technologies across a wide range of industries overseas.

Hort Innovation CEO Brett Fifield says supporting passionate leaders will not only benefit the individuals and their businesses, but the horticulture sector as a whole.

“Hort Innovation is committed to working with industry to build capacity within the horticulture sector,” he says.

“Through supporting initiatives such as Nuffield Scholarships, horticulture professionals get the opportunity to develop their leadership skills, and ultimately, give back to their industry by sharing the knowledge they gained overseas.”

The recipients are:

  • Jacob Moon from Moonrocks in Queensland, who will explore machine harvesting and improving onion shelf life.

“Soil conditions currently play a large part in limiting the use of machine harvesting,” says Mr Moon. “But I believe there are ways to undertake machine harvesting of onions in all soil conditions. My goal is not just to benefit our business, but the onion industry as a whole.”

  • Kirsty Dickensen from Costa, owner of the largest raspberry and blackberry farms in Australia, who will research maximising industry sustainability.

“Many businesses have built monoculture environments and after years of farming are beginning to realise the impact of low biodiversity in the system,” says Ms Dickensen. “Pest pressure is increasing, so too is the reliance on agrichemicals. How do we build more biodiversity into the system to support integrated pest and disease management programs and reduce potential biosecurity threats?”

  • Stephanie Tabone, horticultural researcher at national organisation Applied Horticultural Research, who will investigate the use of legumes as an alternative nitrogen source for vegetable cropping systems.

“Legumes can fix nitrogen from the atmosphere through a symbiotic relationship with rhizobia bacteria,” says Ms Tabone. “They can also help to improve soil health and offer other rotational benefits. The challenge is knowing when the nitrogen will be released into plant-available forms.”

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