Building on its previous success, Phase 3 of the Soil Wealth ICP project has expanded to include the Australian melon industry.

The inclusion of the melon industry was a result of discussions with key industry representatives and targeted interviews with melon growers.

During the consultation, soil health, crop health and input use were identified as the focus themes for the melon component of the project, with activities tailored to regional and national issues specific to growers.

Although still in the planning stage, several activities are in the pipeline including demonstration sites, webinars, and resources such as case studies, fact sheets, and a cucurbit pest and disease guide.

Demonstration sites to showcase results

An exciting part of the project are the demonstration sites.

“We plan to establish four demonstration sites in the key melon-growing regions to showcase trial results and innovations,” Soil Wealth ICP team member Stephanie Tabone said.

These are likely to be in the regions of Gumlu/Burdekin/Bundaberg (QLD), Griffith/Riverina/Sunraysia (NSW), Katherine/Mataranka (NT) and Kununurra/Carnarvon (WA).

“In the previous phases of the project, our demo sites have proven invaluable for growers to trial and see improved practices first-hand, with the support of the project team. They have also been instrumental in recognising champion growers, giving them the opportunity to share their stories and experiences.”

Each demonstration site aligns with industry needs and the interests of host growers. Focus areas will include:

  • Plastic mulch alternatives
  • Maximising soil health to reduce disease
  • Integrated pest management
  • Optimised input use.

Melon industry collaboration

To ensure that all growers benefit from the project outcomes, the Soil Wealth ICP team will also participate in melon industry roadshows, coordinate demonstration site activities and field walks with these roadshows and deliver updates at Australian melon conferences.

The Soil Wealth ICP project will also link closely with the Melons Australia communications project for updates to industry on project resources, event information and the regional roadshows.

“We look forward to working with melon growers across Australia to help them get the most out of their farms, whether that be improved yield and quality, environmental benefits, or saving on reduced inputs,” Stephanie said.

The project’s expansion to include the melon industry is a positive step towards improving soil and crop management practices, and to drive the industry towards greater productivity, profitability and sustainability.

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