The latest Melon Roadshow went north, visiting growers in the vast landscapes of tropical north Queensland, Kununurra in Western Australia and Katherine in the Northern Territory.

Umberto Calvo from the Soil Wealth ICP team joined a group of experts who engaged with growers directly to understand the unique challenges and opportunities that define each region.

Showing up in person meant the group could foster deeper connections within the melon community, sharing insights, knowledge and experiences.

At each stop, there was plenty of opportunity for growers to connect with the experts, both in formal and informal settings.

Discussion topics were delivered by various members of the roadshow as follows:

  • Johnathon Davey provided a comprehensive update on industry developments, ongoing projects and future endeavours
  • Jo Embry shed light on critical biosecurity initiatives and the management of current incursions
  • Cherie Gambley shared insights into the fungal complex disease monitoring project, with additional presentations by Len Tesoriero in Kununurra and Katherine
  • Mark Spees offered a glimpse into the Hort Innovation Melon Fund’s progress
  • Mark Loeffen presented the innovative melon quality monitoring project
  • SP Singh discussed the vital melon food safety project, exclusively in Kununurra and Katherine
  • Kristy Banks and Umberto Calvo provided valuable perspectives from Harvest Trail and Soil Wealth ICP, respectively.

A particular highlight of the trip was the visit to Skybury, a papaya and coffee farm in far north Queensland. This excursion provided a unique opportunity to draw parallels and understand the challenges of farms growing  different crops in the region.

Toward the end of the trip a visit to Rombola Farm in Mataranka focused on planning a future Soil Wealth ICP demonstration site for melons, which will focus on enhancing soil health and nutrient/water use efficiency in challenging sandy soils, which were described by a local grower as an ‘open hydroponic system’.

“The Melon Roadshow to these remote farms in the far north was a unique experience and has given us a special insight into the specific challenges of the region, which are so different from the southern regions of Australia,” Umberto said.

“We are grateful to all the growers who joined us and look forward to further collaboration.”