Annual vegetables and perennial fruits and nuts are already being grown within the southern Queensland region at lower volumes, and show enormous potential for further expansion. For example, with a reduced irrigation allocation, AJD Farming are diversifying their broadacre cropping operation into pumpkins, extracting higher returns for each litre of water. This has benefits for the local economy, with greater inputs required from local agribusinesses, increased labour requirements for the production of horticulture, and potential opportunities for local processing and value-adding.
By working collaboratively with partners across the region, with support from the Queensland Government and funding from the Federal Government’s Murray-Darling Basin Regional Economic Diversification Project, barriers to the expansion of high value horticulture value chains are being overcome, and local business and communities are seeing the benefits.
AJD Farming is a family-owned and operated enterprise located near Yelarbon in the Goondiwindi Regional Council area. The farming operation has traditionally focused on broadacre cropping in producing fodder crops, cereal grains, cotton and legumes in rotation.
With diminishing returns for broadacre commodity crops, owner Anthony Doljanin started to explore the potential of high value horticulture several years ago, knowing something different was needed to enable business expansion. This year, AJD Farming will deliver more than 3000 tonnes of pumpkins through to market, with 80% of the product delivered direct to the major retailers of Coles and Woolworths.
With funding from the Federal Government, Anthony has worked closely with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to develop a pumpkin packing facility to ensure consistency of supply, and to build capacity in production with the equipment required to implement a low cost production system.
Through diversifying their farming operation, AJD Farming has been able to produce more with less, reducing their irrigation allocation for the production of pumpkins while increasing the returns for each megalitre of water used. On average, Anthony will use around 2 to 4 ML per hectare for the production of pumpkins, compared with 8 to 10 ML per hectare used to produce cotton. While the returns for horticulture can be significantly higher, there are also flow-on benefits to the local economy with greater inputs required from local agribusinesses and increased labour requirements for the production of horticulture.
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