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Mushroom training goes virtual

Costa and Melbourne Polytechnic are leading the way in the development of workplace training technology to provide an enhanced training experience for more Victorians.

Mushroom harvesting is a skilled job that requires speed, agility, manual dexterity, and the ability to quickly identify when the produce is ready to be harvested and when it is not.

The challenge facing the Costa Group, Australia’s largest mushroom grower, and Melbourne Polytechnic a leading Victorian vocational training provider, was to develop a state of-the-art training tool that reduced staff turnover, improved harvest productivity, reduced wastage and ultimately resulted in the highest quality mushrooms being harvested.

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Virtual Reality offered a training solution which could be adapted to the particular requirements of mushroom harvesting before a trainee was required to pick a live mushroom. From this basic concept came the Virtual Reality Harvester tool.

Starting with a ‘virtual’ bed of mushrooms, designer Liminal VR set about working with Costa and Melbourne Polytechnic on developing a training experience that would allow trainees to build their knowledge on the correct size of mushroom to harvest, the best cutting technique, the sorting of different types and sizes of mushrooms into packing boxes, disease identification and hygiene control.

The Victorian Government’s Workforce Training Innovation Fund administered by the Department of Education and Training was the perfect program for building a VR tool and increasing the opportunities for Victorians from all walks of life to gain employment in horticulture.

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