Environmental capital: blessings and curses

The climate and soils of the Bundaberg region are ideal for production of a large range of horticultural crops. The region has three dominant soil types: fertile red volcanic loams which are favoured for high value vegetable crops; alluvial soils which can be fertile but poorly drained are often planted with sugarcane; and sandy soils that are used for many irrigated crops. The subtropical climate of the region, combined with soils with varying fertility and physical characteristics, allows growers to produce both tropical and temperate region crops at different times of the year, and subtropical climate crops nearly all year round. Rainfall is predominantly in the summer months and dams on major rivers provide the agricultural industry with a reliable supply of irrigation water.

As with all agricultural production regions, weather conditions are not always conducive to crop production. Heavy rainfall in spring and summer can lead to flooding as well as waterlogged soil. Temperature extremes and strong winds have caused significant damage to crops over the past 30 years, and extended periods of drought have threatened access to irrigation water for crop production. Many of the research projects conducted in the region have focused on strategies to reduce the risks to production from adverse weather conditions.

We’ve occasionally been smashed by the weather. There are always new ideas coming

out that help us keep the place ticking over when the weather is against us.

The warm temperatures of the subtropical climate promote rapid growth of pest and disease organisms as well as crop plants. Without strategies to manage the major pests and diseases, the horticultural industry would not exist in the region. Agricultural research has provided most of the solutions currently adopted by the industry, including breeding crop varieties resistant to pests and diseases, and developing chemical, biological and crop husbandry approaches to control pests and diseases.

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