A new project promising to transform the productivity and profitability of the north Australian mango industry, has been unveiled.
The three year, $1.3m research collaboration between Queensland’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, two large commercial mango growers and the Australian Mango Industry Association is the latest funding announcement from the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia.
The CRCNA has committed $550,000 in funding towards the project.
DAF’s Dr Geoff Dickinson said the project will see new intensive mango management systems introduced and trialled at Manbulloo Limited’s Mareeba and Katherine properties and BJM Enterprises’ Bowen property.
“The aim will be to trial new practices like trellising, high planting density, precision technologies and canopy training techniques on a big enough scale - about half a hectare - at each of the three sites,” said Dr Dickinson.
“This will allow the participants to evaluate the commercial efficacy of the new systems and really get a sense of what works and what doesn’t.”
BJM enterprises director Ben Martin said he could see the potential for intensive cropping systems when he planted a block of R2E2 mango trees at closer spacings at his Bowen property 20 years ago.
“Higher fruit volumes within only a few years is a very positive outcome, however longer-term management of higher density plantings is a big challenge,” he said.
“The technologies implemented within the new CRCNA project should address these challenges and refine the orchard techniques as we move forward.”
In addition to trialling new production techniques within established commercial varieties, the project will also gather data on the performance of new hybrid mango varieties grown using these new techniques.
Dr Dickinson said R&D work within the apple and pear industry saw significant gains in crop productivity and profitability when they implemented similar intensification techniques and it’s expected mango growers will also experience good results.
“Our early modelling predicts by introducing intensified crop management systems, north Australian mango producers could double their productivity on an annual per hectare basis,” he said.
In Katherine, Manbulloo Limited’s managing director Marie Piconne said innovation and knowledge are important to the future success of the industry, which needs to be at the forefront of efficiency improvements.
“This sort of research helps industry to meet the needs of buyers and consumers in Australia. For the Australian mango industry to provide a value proposition that consumers will continue to accept, we need to continually evaluate and improve our production and supply chain efficiency.
“We couldn’t imagine Manbulloo not being involved in research and development projects that challenge current thinking and practices.”
CRCNA chief executive officer Jed Matz said enhancing the productivity of the northern Australian industry meant producers would be well positioned to capitalise on growing demand from Asian markets.
“The CRCNA supported this project because it has a clear and significant impact on growing this important industry. Better quality fruit and more of it means there is greater opportunity to expand the industry into high value markets,” Mr Matz said.
“More profitable farms means more employment opportunities - which leads to more people coming and living in the region.”
The Australian Mango Industry Association’s chief executive officer, Robert Gray attended the project launch and said he was excited to see it progress.
“The expected outcomes of this research will help drive the industry’s focus on productivity and quality which will ultimately lead to increased profitability for the industry’s growers and their businesses.”
The Australian mango industry is one of the largest and most wide-spread horticulture industries across northern Australia, with more than 93 per cent of the national mango crop grown across four primary locations: Darwin and Katherine in the Northern Territory and Mareeba, Bowen and the Burdekin regions in Queensland.
The transforming mango futures project is one of the 12 successful projects awarded in the CRCNA’s first competitive funding call held in October 2017.
The CRCNA has committed $3.7 million towards these projects.