Julia Kasiske and Jacob Betros from Reef Catchments with Horticulture Field Day participants, Mary and Ken Ede, Steve Tiley, Mark Blair, Jock Hansen, Luke Hargreaves, Brooke and Kerry Qualischefski, Tegan McBride, Deb McLucas, Graham Simpson Damien Baxter and Noel Wright at Whitsunday Gold Coffee on Tuesday.
Julia Kasiske and Jacob Betros from Reef Catchments with Horticulture Field Day participants, Mary and Ken Ede, Steve Tiley, Mark Blair, Jock Hansen, Luke Hargreaves, Brooke and Kerry Qualischefski, Tegan McBride, Deb McLucas, Graham Simpson Damien Baxter and Noel Wright at Whitsunday Gold Coffee on Tuesday. Peter Carruthers

Building good food networks

A SHARING of information between horticulturists and industry representatives with a view to improving land management and food networks took place yesterday outside Proserpine in the form of a field day at Whitsunday Gold Coffee.

Reef Catchments sustainable agriculture officer Julia Kasiske was behind the field day and was impressed with the level of interest from food growers.

"We are trying to revitalise the horticulture group... I have been trying to engage more people in the diverse mix of horticultural groups,” she said.

"Today is about networking and really strengthening the horticultural industry in our region by sharing that knowledge and experience between the farmers and to provide a platform for learning.”

After a pepping up on locally grown Whitsunday Gold Coffee, participants went on a tour of the coffee operation before sitting down to listen to speakers.

Luke Hargreaves from Growcom in Bowen gave a presentation on the Hort360 Program, which evaluates on-farm best practice management from every angle.

"We do a 360 degree (analysis) of the horticultural business.

"My role is on the cultural side, we look at practice change to prevent off-farm impacts,” he said.

"I am working around soil health - if we have healthy soils, they retain fertiliser much better.

"A big part of what we do is look at fertiliser practice and how that management affects the soil.”

Growcom is helping growers convert to GPS-controlled traffic farming and implementing variable-rate fertiliser applicators.

Mr Hargreaves said food producers targeting millennial consumers needed to be aware of producing a sustainable product.

"Sustainability is the next big branding initiative,” he said. "The under-30s are shopping in a much more informed way - they care that the grower is getting a good return.”

He said these consumers had been coined the "green generation” and were prepared to pay more for a product produced sustainability and with a commitment to social value.