Western Australian Horticulture Update, 2021

Page last updated: Wednesday, 8 December 2021 - 3:47pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Resilience and sustainability were key themes at this year’s Western Australian Horticulture Update (WAHU2021) hosted by DPIRD on 4 November at Optus Stadium.

The biennial event featured more than 30 presenters and attracted about 150 growers, grower group advocates, industry leaders, agribusiness and university representatives. 

Attendees were encouraged to think beyond today’s needs to consider how the horticulture industry would face future changes in market trends, food security, and environmental and business conditions. 

See some of the presentations below:

Market resilience | International keynote, David Hughes

Bye-bye plastics, air freight, pesticides & herbicides, imported labour and affordable water? Hello more environmental and social regulations for horticulture?

The pandemic has accelerated private and public interest in and actions relating to the environment and the more general area of sustainability. Eco-sensitive consumers around the globe are on the march and they're looking to buy food that's compatible with their "greener" values. 

The UN Climate Change Conference during the first week of November will focus the world's attention on what we need to do to slow down the rate of global warming. 

Horticulture will need to be resilient as governments up their environmental regulations and consumers change their food purchase choices as they recognise that "the power is on their plates"!

Dr Food (Professor David Hughes) will talk about some of the implications that are relevant for the WA horticulture industry.

Click here for the presentation.

Research into the future |  Neil Lantzke, Helen Spafford and Dario Stefanelli

The changing landscape for horticulture production requires ongoing research and innovation to ensure competitive production of produce for local, domestic and export markets. DPIRD Horticulture & Irrigated Agriculture teams engage in research projects that help WA growers be innovative, resilient and sustainable.

The presentation will highlight some of the projects addressing fruit, vegetable and pest and disease issues, from Kununurra in the north to Manjimup in the south, and the staff involved. DPIRD researchers are keen to liaise with growers to understand current and future industry priorities to ensure we are doing appropriate research and development.

Click here for the presentation.

Workforce solutions | Suzanne Hawkes

A presentation of primary industry workforce trends, looking at the decline in employee numbers and how this can be rebalanced. The presentation highlights trends in workforce attraction and retention over the past two decades, highlighting reliance on overseas workforce and changing trends due to COVID. 

Information regarding current government programs to address the workforce shortage is presented along with details of a new project to create a strategy for the long-term development of a sustainable primary industry workforce. 

Click here for the presentation.

Building horticulture business capability | Bryn Edwards and Paul Omodei 

How can looking deeper within your business increase your margin and improve profitability? When is a good time to engage an expert to ask for help and fresh new perspectives? What information and data should I be gathering to ensure my horticulture business is on track, both in the short and long term?

In this presentation, Paul Omodei and Bryn Edwards will talk through some of the key components of the Building Horticulture Business Capacbility program, and the trends and observations from it.

Click here for the presentation.

Five steps to safety in your workplace | Maree Gooch

Improving and implementing farm safety systems is just the beginning - continuous improvement in safety practices has been proven to improve farm business efficiency and ultimately productivity and business performance. Following the Safe Farms 'Five steps to safety' is a pragmatic and straight forward approach to start and implement a practical and do-able safety system in your business. 

Click here for the presentation.

WAHU2021 - a sustainable future video

View the videos shown at the WAHU2021 conference:

A sustainable future

The demand for sustainability within the Australian agricultural industry has increased significantly over the last decade. Pressure from industry and consumers for future-driven approaches to farming has resulted in the increased need for research and agri-tech developments, to help growers build innovative and maintainable farming enterprises. At the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s WA Horticulture Update 2021, sustainability was discussed. Topics included consumer demand for sustainable products, regulations and risks, water and desalination, innovative waste management approaches, soil health, and insights into what WA growers are doing to meet the changing requirements on food production. In this video, growers Tom Mitchell and Robert Kuzmicich provide their insights into sustainable soil carbon and sustainable farming.

Click here for the video

Research into the future

In this video, DPIRD research scientists highlight some of our future-focused projects addressing industry priorities for fruit, vegetable, and pest and disease issues, from the north of the State to the south.

Click here for the video

Plastics and packaging

Consumer consideration of packaging and plastic has shifted over the last decade, with environmental concerns and wastage being high on the public policy agenda. From an industry perspective, packaging forms a critical part of ensuring fresh produce sells in retail stores, providing:

  • protection from bruising and damage
  • increased shelf live and prevention of dehydration
  • a defence for food security concerns
  • a place to communicate what the product is, and
  • a place to differentiate the product with marketing messages, such as ‘organic’, ‘Buy West Eat Best’ etc.

Packaging can also aid in retail ranging and tiering strategies, allowing for premium prices to be charged in high-end ranges. The environmental credentials of different types of packaging, such as plastic, paper or pulp, as well as plant-derived 'plastics' can be incredibly complex to understand and difficult to communicate to the consumer, particularly across large global supply chains.

In this video, growers Lee-Anne Yewers of Berry Sweet and Peter and Maureen Dobra of Loose Leaf Lettuce Company, discuss how they utilise single use plastics in the packaging and distribution of food.

Click here for the video


In this video, developed for the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s WA Horticulture Update 2021, Joseph Ling of AGRIfresh discusses his approach to marketing fresh produce around the globe. It isn’t always about your product; it is about building relationships, and the solution your business can provide to help address consumer challenges.

Click here for the video

Building horticulture business capability

In this video, participating growers Mark Scott of Nannup Fresh Fruit and Anthony Liew of Landsdale Strawberries, together with Bryn Edwards, Vegetables WA program manager, talk about the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s Building Horticulture Business Capacity (BHBC) program, which pairs horticultural businesses with business experts. The BHBC program is co-funded by vegetable and pome APC committees and Hort Innovation.

Click here for the video

Workforce solutions

Primary industry workforce trends are changing, with a decline in employee numbers, requiring a rebalance. In this video, growers Nic and Ben from Newton Orchards, along with Thy Nguyen, based in Carnarvon discuss workforce sustainability issues in the horticulture industry.

Click here for the video


Contact information

Anne Thompson