Queensland research station helps farmers produce better strawberries

Research at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Applethorpe research facility is helping Queensland farmers produce more attractive, flavoursome and robust strawberries.

Queensland government minister for agricultural industry development, Mark Furner, said the government’s Australian strawberry breeding program was targeting three major strawberry production regions – temperate, subtropical and Mediterranean – to get the best fruit.

“Breeding trials at Applethorpe during 2018 have developed two new varieties, Summer Song and Scarlet-silk, which are being trialled this season by strawberry producers in Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia,” he said.

“In addition, our strawberry breeding team has just commenced a new five-year, $8.6m national strawberry varietal development program, co-funded by Hort Innovation, to deliver new and improved varieties to all production regions in Queensland,” said Furner.

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More broadly, Queensland’s $3 billion fruit and vegetable production industry had benefitted from research into a range of issues.

The department’s researchers are involved in important projects to support and enhance Queensland’s reputation for producing some of the world’s safest produce, said Furner.

“The Applethorpe Research Facility is the hub of research activity for a $16.6 million five-year project to improve the resilience of crops against viral and bacterial diseases.

“This will see the development of an area wide management strategy to address high priority viral and bacterial diseases affecting vegetable crops,” he said.

“Project work is undertaken in all major Queensland vegetable production areas, including Applethorpe, and will give industry the latest recommendations on disease occurrence and management.”

Applethorpe was also renowned for the development of the disease-resistant Kalei apple, said Furner.

“The Kalei is currently being commercialised by Apple and Pear Australia Limited (APAL), the same company looking after Pink Lady on a global scale,” he said.

“We are still evaluating other promising disease resistant lines from this initial breeding program which commenced 25 years ago.

“The department is also working on high density growing systems including trellises, researching rootstocks, plant densities, row spacing and crop load management to maximise yields. The trials show the potential of producing 100t/ha where industry common practice has only resulted in half that amount,” he said.

Queensland’s Bribie Island could turn into aquaculture hub

The Queensland government plans to turn rundown buildings on Bribie Island into an aquaculture hub.

The land is part of the Bribie Island Research Centre, an aquaculture research and development facility owned and operated by the department of agriculture and fisheries.

Minister for agricultural industry development and fisheries, Mark Furner, said in the past 12 months, the government had received a number of unsolicited enquiries from both the public and private sectors to use parts of the research centre site for aquaculture.

“We know how popular our seafood products are not only in the burgeoning Asian market, but also in hungry domestic markets down south.

READ: Growing aquaculture production backed by Queensland government

“By supporting new investment in the aquaculture industry, we will see more jobs and more premium seafood being grown right here in Queensland,” said Furner.

The government will run a public process seeking expressions of interest from interested parties to use the land for aquaculture and related purposes, once all relevant approvals have been obtained.

“The site was decommissioned in November 2009 and has since fallen into disrepair.

“The rejuvenation of this site will provide a rare opportunity to invest in Queensland’s growing aquaculture industry which currently is worth an estimated $125 million to the Queensland economy,” said Furner.

Work would shortly start with the Moreton Bay Regional Council to progress the necessary approvals that will be required to advance the project,” he said.

“There is significant community interest in the future use of the land and the expression of interest process will allow us to identify the outcome that maximises the benefit to the aquaculture industry and the local and Queensland economies.

“It is anticipated that an aquaculture development option will provide significant economic development and job opportunities during both the construction phase and once the enterprise becomes operational,” said Furner.

When finalised, details of the expression of interest process will be available on the department of agriculture and fisheries website.

Growing aquaculture production backed by Queensland government

Agricultural industry development and fisheries minister Mark Furner has laid bare his ambitions to make Queensland the aquaculture capital of the world.

Furner used a visit in early October to the JCU aquaculture research lab in Townsville, to begin his campaign to entice further aquaculture investment in North Queensland.

“Queensland stands at the foot of a mountain of potential growth in the aquaculture industry,” he said.

“We have never been better placed to capitalise on the decades of world-class research by the department of fisheries and institutions like JCU.

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“With markets in Asia hungry for high quality Australian seafood products, now is the time to strike,” said Furner.

In 2013, for the first time, global aquaculture production exceeded that of beef and this trend in global growth is continuing, according to the Queensland government.

Furner said since he became agriculture minister in December 2017, the untapped potential for seafood enterprises to energise regional communities had stood out.

“I have travelled extensively around the state, covering more than 40,000km, and met with farmers of all types.

“What really stuck with me was the ability for a range of investors, from family operations to multinational companies, to get involved in the aquaculture space,” he said.

“I met a farmer south of Mackay who took out two fields of cane and replaced it with a dam full of barramundi and was sending tonnes of fish to the Sydney Markets every month,” said Furner.

“In the coming months I will be engaging with private companies and encouraging them to invest in Queensland aquaculture projects.

“If opportunities like this harnessed and built upon, there will be a direct injection of jobs into local communities,” said Furner.

Townsville MP Scott Stewart said North Queensland was primed to take advantage of the aquaculture boom.

“The North Queensland seafood production industry can lead the way on this initiative,” said Stewart.

“Already we have seen successful investment in the region, but given the capacity the industry has for growth, I want to see more.

“This has the power to bring more jobs to Townsville and provide a real injection to our economy,” said Stewart.

The forecast gross value of production of Queensland aquaculture for 2017-18 was $125 million, an increase of 4.4 per cent from 2016-17 production.

More than 500 people are directly employed by the industry in Queensland.

But Furner said the future of aquaculture was not just in seafood farming.

“There are a multitude of applications for products to be borne out of aquaculture and related development.

“The gains from this innovation will drive better outcomes for environmental sustainability, regional development and the Great Barrier Reef,” said Furner.

 

Queenslanders to receive refund for recycling drink containers

From the 1st of November, Queenslanders will receive a refund for recycling drink containers.

The Queensland government’s container refund scheme will see people getting 10 cents back for recycling eligible containers at a range of outlets.

Minister for environment Leeanne Enoch said the scheme would encourage recycling while also reducing the amount of plastic seen in the environment.

“There will be a range of different type of refund point options such as permanent depot-style points, bag drops and reverse vending machines. Some container refund points will be mobile and use the ‘pop up’ concept to ensure the reach of our scheme extends into regional and remote areas,” said Enoch.

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“By providing a range of convenient and accessible refund point solutions, more Queenslanders will be able to participate in and benefit from the scheme,” she said.

Not-for-profit group Container Exchange has been appointed to run the scheme. The company is implementing 230 refund points.

“There has also been strong interest from community groups about participating as donation points. These donations points will allow Queenslanders to donate their containers to a charity, community group or school, allowing these groups to get the 10-cent refund,” said Enoch.

“Mobile collection points provide a perfect solution for these groups, and for them, it could be as simple as setting-up a temporary collection point at the local football game on a Sunday to collect the empty drink containers. This will allow our vital charities and community groups to be able to raise money for their projects and programs,” she said.

Container Exchange acting chairman Alby Taylor said there was a great opportunity for community groups and sporting clubs to register as a part of the scheme.

“As we approach the commencement date, the community will see the options available to them to be able to benefit from the container refund scheme,” said Taylor.

“We are currently touring the state, in conjunction with Boomerang Alliance, holding community forums in various towns, to educate Queenslanders about the scheme. So far our forums have attracted nearly 1000 registrations,” he said.