"I just think that it is good to see the industry still thriving"

Large turnout for the opening day of Australian Pineapple Field Days in Queensland

Australia's pineapple industry members have gathered near Queensland's Sunshine Coast for the annual Field Days.

FreshPlaza is attending the two-day event, which includes farm tours, takes a look at some new innovations being used by growers as well as a trade show, industry dinner and some expert information-based presentations. This year, around 160 delegates attended, which Australian Pineapples Chairman Sam Pike says was a really great achievement.

Photo: Australian Pineapples Chairman Sam Pike

"It's really exciting because the industry is going through a tough time at the moment, but the fact we have so many here, I just think that it is good to see the industry still thriving," he said. "Like everything, everyone is going through a tough time at the moment with labour shortages, supply shortages and costs, whether it be fertiliser or cartons. It doesn't seem to knock the pineapple industry around too much, we are a resilient bunch - probably being mostly Queenslanders."

He added that it is exciting to see a lot of younger growers who are entering the industry.

"I used to be the youngest around, but now I am seeing a whole lot of fresh faces around, and they are really excited and keen to change," Mr Pike said. "The industry had been on a downward decline because of the previous ages of the farmers, but now I would stay it is holding steady, which is something the industry hasn't seen for a long time. So, with succession through families in the pineapple industry, it's an industry that has hung around for so long, so kids are going to keep coming back. As long as we can keep the industry members and supporters coming to events like this, we should be able to keep people in the industry."

Mr Pike is also Farm Manager at Sandy Creek Pineapple Company, which has just installed bioreactors at the perimeter of the farm to help with sustainability by controlling flushes of nitrogen into the local waterways, especially after heavy rain. Delegates got a close-up look at how this works.

"Sustainability is important in all agriculture, and I don't want to see our industry being regulated, I would prefer that we were on the front foot, and being proactive," Mr Pike said. "Our creek health and things like that will keep being a priority; rather than digging your head in the sand, we are taking it head on and we are getting great results. We are building strong relationships with Queensland's Department of Environment and Science (DES), the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) and Growcom. So, the future is looking good for us on the environmental sustainability front."

FreshPlaza will have follow-up stories from the Pineapple Field Days in coming newsletters.

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