Growers net $14.6m to protect fruit

Growers net $14.6m to protect fruit

Horticulture
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SA fruit farmers can now access $14.6 million of federal government funding to purchase and install protective netting.

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SA horticulture producers can now apply for grants of up to $300,000 to install new or replace damaged netting, helping those who have been impacted by hailstorms in recent years.

On Sunday, federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud joined SA Senator Anne Ruston, Premier Steven Marshall and Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone in announcing the $14.6 million Horticultural Netting Infrastructure Program.

"Many of SA's horticulture crops are not netted simply because the costs of installing the infrastructure is a major barrier for growers," Mr Littleproud said.

"Now, under this program, eligible growers can access grants of up to $300,000 towards the cost of netting purchase and installation.

"Netting is an important tool in resilience and risk management for horticulture producers helping to limit damage from hailstorms and pests whilst also saving water."

Member for Barker Tony Pasin MP, who was part of instigating the program, said the funding was a major win for local horticulturalists.

"Netting delivers clear productivity boosts to growers by protecting crops from extreme weather and pests," he said.

"Netting increases protection from sunburn, wind and hail-not to mention the birds.

"Importantly for irrigated crops, netting also delivers dramatic improvements in water efficiency.

"The experience with existing crops and orchards under netting indicated an average reduction in water use by around 30 per cent while simultaneously increasing yields by around the same amount."

Mr Whetstone said the program is estimated to net almost 500 hectares which will have a significant impact on the future of horticulture in SA.

"Netting is a gamechanger for horticultural producers by providing protection from the elements - sun, wind and hail - not to mention bats and birds," he said.

"During drought conditions and high water prices, netting also delivers a dramatic improvement in water efficiency and has shown it can increase yields.

"Fruit harvested under netting is also more likely to meet the high standards demanded by consumers providing a market advantage."

The Federal Government Program will be delivered through two trials covering the Riverland Area and the Adelaide Hills/Greater Adelaide area ($7.3m each), and be administered by PIRSA.

The scheme will commence from June 29, but will be backdated for eligible producers who have installed netting since December.

Eligible growers will be required to at least match the federal contribution and the grants will be capped at $300,000 (GST exclusive) per farmer.

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