Soil Wealth ICP team member Umberto Calvo joined a team of experts on the recent melons roadshow in Western Australia.

The roadshow, organised by Melons Australia and funded through the Hort Innovation Melon Fund, visited several towns including Waroona and Carnarvon. The event provided an opportunity to deliver updates on current research, development and extension (RD&E) projects within industry to growers and other industry stakeholders and support a better understanding of their challenges and successes.

Guest speakers from the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI), Hort Innovation, Soil Wealth ICP and the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) joined the Melons Australia team at key events.

Attendees visiting a wholesale agent at Perth Market.

Diverse insights from Perth to Carnarvon

The journey kicked off in Perth, where the team visited the Perth Market and several growers in the region around the capital before hosting a successful event in Waroona, where attendees could network and discuss issues of greatest concern.

“Perth was a great success, with interest from both seasoned veterans and newcomers to the industry,” Umberto said.

“There were many lively discussions and growers made the most of the networking opportunities.”

From Perth, the group headed north to Carnarvon, where they continued their mission to connect with growers and share insights on soil health, integrated pest management (IPM) strategies, food safety, market access and biosecurity.

The discussions in Carnarvon centred around critical topics such as water and nutrient efficiency, soil recovery from adverse weather conditions, and the benefits of crop rotations in maintaining soil health and minimising soil-borne diseases.

The engagement in Carnarvon was equally enthusiastic, with attendees actively participating in presentations and extensive conversations during networking sessions. The event, held at the Dalmacija Club, a local community centre, attracted a diverse audience eager to learn and exchange ideas.

One notable aspect of the Carnarvon leg was the chance to meet the Vietnamese growers’ community and visit their farms, accompanied by Chi Nguyen from vegetablesWA who facilitated communication and translation.

The diversity of crops and farming practices among Carnarvon growers highlighted the richness of the region’s agricultural landscape.

Attendees visiting a Vietnamese grower’s watermelon paddock in Carnarvon. 

Expert knowledge on show

Throughout the roadshow, attendees heard informative presentations from experts in the field. SP Singh from NSW DPI provided updates on food safety monitoring projects, while Melons Australia Executive Officer Johnathon Davey shared insights into current and future projects within the Melon Fund.

Jo Embry, Biosecurity Officer at Melons Australia, offered updates on pest incursions and disease monitoring projects, underscoring the importance of vigilance in maintaining crop health. Hort Innovation’s Mark Spees gave an overview of the Melon Fund budget and how growers are involved in decision-making via the Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP).

A noteworthy addition to the Carnarvon leg was Dr Sarah Collins from DPIRD, who discussed the nematode monitoring project, shedding light on a critical aspect of soil health and pest management.

“The success of the roadshow highlights the importance of collaboration and knowledge exchange in fostering innovation in agriculture,” Umberto said.

“We look forward to working with Melons Australia and engaging with growers over the next few years as part of the Soil Wealth ICP project.

“We hope we can learn from each other to better understand the complexity of diverse farming systems and improve their long term sustainability.”