Production / Postharvest

Final reports of the following research and development projects can be found at You will need to log in or create a free account before searching for each project using the 'VG' code or project title. Other resources such as fact sheets and handbooks will be uploaded to this website and can be found by clicking the links under each project title.



vision systems, sensing and sensor networks to manage risks and increase productivity in vegetable production systems (vg15024)

This project led by Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries also involves CSIRO and QUT as key project collaborators. It is about the development of vision-system sensing and sensor networks in relation to vegetable crops, and is part of a suite of projects relating to precision agriculture for vegetables.

Contact: The QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF)



using autonomous systems to guide vegetable decision making on-farm (vg15003)

This project by the Australian Centre for Field Robotics based at Sydney University. it is about the development of vision-system sensing and sensor networks in relation to vegetable crops, and is part of a suite of projects relating to precision agriculture for vegetables.

Contact: Salah Sukkarieh, University of Sydney



evaluation of automation and robotics innovations: developing next generation vegetable production systems (vg13113)

This is one of a group of projects that is being conducted in the area of automation and robotics. 

Contact: The QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF)


review of current irrigation technologies (vg14048)

The project reviewed a range of innovations in relation to irrigation of vegetable crops. The project produced a factsheet and ran a series of workshops. The main areas covered were soil moisture monitoring, variable rate irrigation, drip irrigation, system automation, energy costs and the need for technical support. Non-drain sprinklers, solar pumping, automating surface irrigation systems, tracking nutrient movement to save money, the importance of an irrigation design and minimum tillage were also seen as viable options to improve water productivity in some areas. 

Contact: Matthew Plunkett, Irrigation Australia Ltd

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scoping study of a disorder that reduces shelf-life and consumption of green beans (vg14040)

The cause of a bacterial disease in a crop in Victoria was identified as Pseudomonas syringae. There is no doubt that a significant infection of bean pods will, in its own right, reduce the quality of bean pods, a problem experienced by a number of growers. In this instance, however, the bacterium was isolated only from leaves, not from pods. There is detailed quality information available on chilling injury and on bacterial diseases. The diagnosis of chilling injury was based mostly on anecdotal evidence. 

Contact: Dr Brendan Rodoni, Agriculture Victoria Services Pty Ltd

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pre-harvest practices that will increase the shelf-life and freshness of vegetables (vg14025)

This project involved a review of pre-harvest effects on post-harvest quality of vegetables. 

Contact: Dr Roberto Marques (NSW Department of Primary Industries) and
              Dr Gordon Rogers (Applied Horticultural Research)



The project provides a list of farm management software programs compiled for vegetable growers to identify the most appropriate tool they can buy to meet their farm-management needs - from crop management through to social media. A spreadsheet lists all the apps and farm management software available to growers.

Contact: Belinda Hazell, TQA Australia Inc


identify process improvements for preserving peak freshness of broccoli (vg13086)

This study investigated the freshness of broccoli at retail and found that freshness at retail is highly variable, and that the quality does not correlate well to display method or price. The project recommended further studies on the cost of the effectiveness of cooling practices, production of training materials targeted at retailers, further evaluation of supply chains, particularly in relation to icing versus non-icing systems, and to test the effectiveness of 1-MCP (SmartFresh) as an alternative to top icing. These activities are underway. 

Contact: Jenny Ekman, Applied Horticultural Research

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IDENTIFYing and sharing postharvest best practice on-farm and online (vg13083)

This project has carried out postharvest research on new vegetable crops for which there was no data available. It has produced the Postharvest Management of Vegetables handbook and a series of product orientated factsheets. The project has also conducted a series of workshops around the country.

Contact: Jenny Ekman, Applied Horticultural Research


PRioritisation of vegetable crop commodities and activities for mechanisation (vg13081)

The objective of this project is to monitor and demonstrate the use of controlled traffic farming in vegetable production within the constraints of existing farm operations, with a focus on the north-west coast of Tasmania. 

The take home messages from the project are:

  • Tracking stability on compacted wheel tracks and side slopes remains an issue to be addressed for the implementation of controlled traffic farming (CTF)
  • Undulating topography creates challenges for tillage operations and drainage under CTF
  • Harvest traffic can cause soil compaction, even for summer harvested crops like poppies

Contact: John McPhee, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) - University of                 Tasmania


global scan for vegetable innovation - fresh and minimally processed (vg13080)

The Australian vegetable industry aims to increase its vegetables' attractiveness and competitiveness as exports to Asian markets. To achieve this, research into the various types of innovation used within the vegetable industry was conducted to identify new, relevant and commercially viable solutions to assist Australian growers. Seven innovations that presented the best opportunities were developed and are ready to be distributed to growers and relevant stakeholders.

Contact: Ben Dunsheath, Euromonitor International Ltd

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The Soil Wealth project led jointly by AHR and Dr Doris Blaesing from RMCG have created a new national framework for the delivery of soil and crop protection information to Australian vegetable growers. 

They have resulted in new resources and approaches to communicate information and skills to the vegetable industry, including:

  • Best-practice demonstration sites with leading growers in 10 Australian regions
  • Website and Facebook sites
  • A soil-borne disease masterclass
  • Field days, regional workshops and interest groups
  • Videos, factsheets and social media deliver information and training to vegetable growers and agronomists
  • A network of 1,500 growers, agronomists, resellers and chemical companies interested in soil-borne disease management

Contact: Gordon Rogers, Applied Horticultural Research


an investigation of low-cost protective cropping (vg13075)

A range of low-cost protective cropping measures were evaluated to help reduce the impact of adverse weather events on vegetable crop yields and quality. A range of measures were evaluated, including: permanent shade structures, windbreaks, low-cost retractable roof structures and floating row covers.  

Contact: Adam Goldwater, Applied Horticultural Research

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The challenges faced by Australian growers are shared by others across the international community. The study, conducted by project leader Richard O'Brien, considered guest worker programs in countries with broadly similar market characteristics and employment needs to those in Australia. Specific examples were drawn from North America, Europe and Oceania. The study also considered guest worker schemes currently available within Australia and recommended some adjustment to those that apply to the horticulture sector. 

Contact: Richard O'Brien

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building COdes and greenhouse construction (vg13055)

The aim of this project was to reduce the cost of compliance for the construction of Greenhouse and Growing Structures (G/GS) and to provide guidelines for a consistent building approval approach across Australia. The investigations and documentation determine where cost-reduction measures can be implemented to economically assist the protective cropping industry and provide a defined approval process throughout Australia. 

Contact: Marcel Olivetto, Osborn Lane Consulting Engineers

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COnfirmation of ultra filtration as a viable low-cost water disinfection and nutrient solution recycling options (vg13052)

This project is about micro-filtration of water as a low-cost means of disinfection of the nutrient solution and of water supplied for protected cropping.

Contact: Jeremy Badgery-Parker, Primary Principles

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Production of fish food for aquaculture from vegetable waste feasibility study (vg13050)

Currently, a major factor limiting aquaculture is the continued reliance on wild caught fish to produce fishmeal. Much research has focused on replacing fishmeal with animal and/or plant-based products, however with only partial success. This project examined the potential use of vegetable wastes to grow insect larvae, which can be used in animal or aquaculture feeds. Feeding trials with larvae showed that pumpkin, carrot, eggplant, capsicum and even processed vegetable sludge were all readily consumed. 

Contact: Jenny Ekman, Applied Horticultural Research

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Integrating sustainable soil health practices into a commercial vegetable farming operation (vg12115)

The trials at Mulyan Farms have provided commercial scale validation that "softer" soil management practices can be integrated into large-scale vegetable production. The project has successfully demonstrated and communicated that combining cover cropping with controlled traffic and reduced tillage will allow for sustainable improvement to the soil condition, which can maintain or improve yields and reduce input costs. 

Contact: Gordon Rogers, Applied Horticultural Research


increasing productivity and extending seasonality in soil-grown vegetables using capsicum as a candidate (vg12103)

The project evaluated rootstocks, varieties, ratooning and shading to increase the productivity of capsicums and chilli. 

Contact: David Carey, The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

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Identifying new products, uses and markets for australian vegetables: a desktop study (vg12046)

Total waste from these crops was estimated at 278,000 tonnes, representing 25% of production and costing growers $155 million annually. This figure includes crops that were grown to maturity and either not harvested or harvested and not marketed. The calculations take into account the value growers receive from alternative lower value uses for the crop such as processing using a stock food.
Topics covered include:

  • Summary of waste categories and amounts of x crop
  • Biogas feasibility
  • Fish feed feasibility
  • Promoting healthy eating - more vegetables
  • Extraction of volatiles and flavour compounds
  • Extraction of antioxidants

Contact: Gordon Rogers, Applied Horticultural Research

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Controlling multiple heading and transplant shock in lettuce (vg12017)

This project investigated the cause(s) of blindness in lettuce. It also evaluated the use of additives at planting to reduce the impact of transplant shock in seedlings.

Contact: Adam Goldwater, Applied Horticultural Research

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Benchmarking uptake of soil health practices (vg11034)

This project reviewed the soil health program for the vegetable industry in Australia and includes recommendations for future research and extension required by growers in relation to managing the soils in a sustainable and profitable way. The project also directly surveyed 72 growers and collected their views on the major soil health issues, preferred communication styles and prioritised soil health issues for further study. The project also contains a list of relevant soil health publications and research outputs and an analysis of vegetable cropping areas and production timeslots by region. 

Contact: Gordon Rogers, Applied Horticultural Research

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On-farm demonstration of controlled traffic farming for vegetables (vg10080)

This project outlines the use of controlled traffic cropping systems for vegetable production. The focus of the project is in Tasmania, especially on processing vegetables. It links to a larger DAFF-funded project showcasing controlled traffic and deep organic matter use in vegetable crops. 

Contact: John McPhee, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture - UTas

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Issues facing vegetable production in peri-urban areas - review and scoping study (vg10059)

This project reviewed issues facing peri-urban vegetable production and this will have relevance to groups operating in production areas close to large urban centres. 

Contact: Charles Drew, Scholefield Robinson Horticultural Services

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The production of baby-leaf lettuce under floating crop covers (vg09188)

This project investigated the use of floating row covers in the production of baby leaf lettuce, with a focus on south-east Queensland for the fresh-cut sector. Projects VG12108 and VG13075 also looked at floating covers.

Contact: Robert Munton, Britton Produce

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INcreasing energy efficiency and assessing an alternative energy option for australian protected cropping (vg09124)

This project is focused on energy-efficient in greenhouse production.

Contact: Joshua Jarvis, NSW Department of Primary Industries

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Evaluation of vegetable washing chemicals (vg09086)

This project is about an evaluation of sanitisers for washing vegetable crops with a focus on processing. Growers who produce leafy vegetables that are sold as pre-washed and ready-to-eat should consider using peroxyacetic acid-based sanitisers. However, these sanitisers are considerably more expensive and may contribute to a lower shelf-life of the product. The trials showed that electrified oxidised water to have superior efficacy to any of the other products tested and extended product shelf life. 

Contact: Robert Premier, Global F.S. 

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Managing a greenhouse capsicum crop - interactive dvd demonstration and resource package (vg09070)

This project has produced resource information in relation to capsicum greenhouse production. The resources include fact sheets on essential knowledge, preparing and planting, managing the crop and an economic benefit cost analysis. The following technical areas are also covered - nutrition, greenhouse design, pest and diseases, soil health management, irrigation and salinity.

Contact: Trevor Linke

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developing a sustainable soil management model to increase farmgate returns in tasmania (vg08106) 

A large number of soil properties and management practices were analysed against carrot and potato crop performance over a three-year period in Tasmania. Soil organic carbon, aggregate stability and soil type were found to have an influence on potato quality. On average, potatoes performed better when produced in Red Ferrosol soils compared with other soil types. 

Soils other than Ferrosols produced higher quality potatoes with higher organic carbon and aggregate stability levels. Sampling of paddocks using PCR testing revealed a good correlation between disease expression on washed tubers and the levels of soil DNA for black dot and powdery scab. Relationships between carrot quality, sap nitrate and soil compaction were found in the first two seasons but not in year 3, probably due to extreme weather events in that year. 

Contact: Kevin Clayton-Greene, Harvest Moon

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DEsign and demonstration of precision agriculture irrigation applied to different vegetable crops (vg08029)

The project found that using a pressure control retro-fitted system to a travelling gun irrigator showed an energy saving of 17-21.8% and water savings of 5-10%. With the proven savings in water expenditure and energy consumption displayed in the project, it is reasonable to estimate that the cost of the modified irrigation system could be recovered in 2-3 years. Variable rate irrigation (VRI) using a network of soil sensors and a modified linear move irrigator also led to water savings. 

Contact: Susan Lambert, University of Tasmania


Improving greenhouse systems and production practices (greenhouse production practices component (parent - vg07096) (vg07144)

A best-practice manual for conversion to simple hydroponics from soil-based production systems was developed in project VG07144 and was released in August/September of 2012. Demonstration sites exhibiting conversion to hydroponic systems were set up to compare yields and productivity with soil-based systems and facilitate communication with other growers - in some cases, yields were three to four times higher in simple hydroponic systems. Water use efficiency was also significantly higher when compared with soil-based crops. Hydroponic systems are often favoured for their high levels of efficiency in their utilisation of inputs including water, fertilisers, labour, land and energy.

Contact: Barbara Hall, South Australian Research and Development Institute

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This project was aimed at evaluating new processing beetroot varieties with a view to increasing yield. Essentially, the project found new varieties were not significantly better than the current standard. Most of the varieties were globe-shaped but a cylinder-shaped variety trialled yielded as well as the industry standard and could be suitable for the industry except for the need to re-engineer the method of slicing. 

Contact: Donald Irving, NSW Department of Primary Industries

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Developing technical guidelines and a best practice extension toolbox for greenhouse construction and safe operation (vg16004)

Part one of this project the project team will develop technical guidelines for G/GS’s for inclusion in the National Construction Code and Part 2 will developed and communicate relevant G/GS’s information for growers in an accessible and practical format. This follows a previous project Building Codes and Greenhouse Construction (VG13055) completed by Osborn Consulting Engineers in 2014 which was developed in response to the cost of local council compliance concerns raised by growers and developed a Code of Practice document. 

Contact: Marcel Olivotto, Osborn Consulting Engineers Pty Ltd

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Data analytics and app technology to guide on-farm irrigation (vg15054)

This project will develop an irrigation app that will allow growers to enter a location, crop type and crop growth stage to get a quick and easy estimate of vegetable water use and soil water balance – information that can in turn be used to inform irrigation. The app will initially focus on brassicas, carrots, lettuce and leafy vegetables. 

Contact: Ros Harvey, The Yield Technology Solutions Pty Ltd

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Investigating novel glass technologies and photovoltaics in protected cropping (vg15038)

This project aims to improve energy-efficient design and energy use in greenhouses, with a focus on the use of smart glass and semi-transparent photovoltaic glass (STPVG). The project will begin with a review of existing and in-development smart glass and STPVG technologies, prior to trials to assess their use and value under Australian conditions. 

Contact: Swinburne University of Technology

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Optimising the benefits of vermiculture in commercial-scale vegetable farms (vg15037)

This three-year project will identify practical and cost-effective ways vegetable growers can use earthworms and vermiculture products in their growing systems. Vegetable growers at sites across Australia will be involved in field research over the next three years, and the project managers would like to hear from interested growers.

Contact: Bill Grant, Blue Environment Pty Ltd

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Precision seeding benefits for processing pea production (vg15039)

Details to come.

Contact: Alistair Gracie, University of Tasmania