26 September 2023

System on the roof for crop research

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The Carnarvon Research Station Field Day featured a range of research initiatives aimed at boosting the potential of the Gascoyne horticulture industry.

Research at the station, run by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) has been reinvigorated in recent years with infrastructure investments, including a Retractable Roof Production System (RRPS) and protective cropping structures.

Support Manager for Carnarvon Research at the DPIRD, Annie van Blommestein said the RRPS had created the opportunity to modify the growing environment to evaluate crop management practices.

“A trial to evaluate the RRPS microclimate for tomatoes, capsicums and zucchini production show the adverse effects of extreme weather conditions, like high temperatures, strong sunlight and low humidity, can be overcome,” Ms van Blommestein said.

“Preliminary results from the first trial suggest tomato yields and quality from the RRPS crop were improved, compared with the field-grown winter crop, while the results were even more promising for capsicums.”

She said the presence of insect pests, disease and weeds was also lower with the RRPS, as the roof could be closed to prevent unwanted rainfall.

“Initial results show natural pollinators, such as bees, were able to enter the RRPS, although more research needs to be done to validate these findings,” Ms van Blommestein said.

“The DPIRD continues its work with eight seed companies on variety trials of capsicums, chillies, tomatoes and melons to evaluate emerging genetic material that may be suitable for the Carnarvon environment,” she said.

More information about the Carnarvon Research Station can be accessed at DPIRD’s website on this PS News link.

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