Horticulture at top of tree

By Country News

Horticulture has become one of the country’s most valuable agriculture industries, according to new figures.

According to 2017-18 Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, horticulture produced $6200 of value per megalitre of water used in gross value of production terms.

Horticulture also produced the highest GVP per hectare of productive land — $31486 — according to the figures.

The second-highest category, viticulture, produced $7720 in value per hectare.

Hort Innovation research and development lead Anthony Kachenko said the changing climate, high energy costs and the emergence of water-related issues such as salinity, water contamination, reduced environmental flows and supply security had brought greater attention to the importance of on-farm efficiency.

‘‘With the increasing cost of agricultural inputs, such as water and energy, increasing the efficiency of these inputs remains an important issue for the industry,’’ Dr Kachenko said.

‘‘What this data has shown is that while horticulture is intensive in terms of resource use, such as capital, labour, energy and water, it is also a high value industry.’’

Dr Kachenko said horticulture had proved successful in its adoption of sustainable practices and, moving forward, Hort Innovation would continue to support its industries to adopt greater sustainability approaches that avoided negatively impacting the environment.

‘‘Initiatives which increase on-farm efficiency will be critical to ensuring the horticulture industry can not only become more productive and profitable, but also improve environmental outcomes.’’

Hort Innovation is working to develop a Sustainability Framework for the horticulture sector to continue this momentum.