Hort Connections 2024: Exploring the Latest Innovations in Farming

Hort Connections 2024 brought together industry leaders and professionals to discuss the latest developments in horticulture and supply chain management. In addition to engaging speakers and a bustling tradeshow, delegates had the opportunity to go on farm tours to witness cutting-edge technologies firsthand.

The conference kicked off with several tours, including visits to retail locations, the Epping Market, Yarra Valley Farm, and Mornington Peninsula Farm. One tour headed west of Melbourne to explore salad producers utilizing new technologies to enhance their farming practices.

Boomaroo Nurseries was the first stop on the tour, showcasing their automation in greenhouse seed production for salad products. Located in Lara, Boomaroo Nurseries is one of Australia’s largest suppliers of vegetable seedlings and Greenlife. Delegates witnessed automated handling systems that improve quality, consistency, traceability, efficiency, and reliability. The company can produce up to two million potted plants across a variety of product lines, utilizing innovative technology to streamline processes.

Tripod Farmers in Bacchus Marsh was the next destination, a family business with over 120 years of experience in producing premium-quality salads and vegetables. Delegates were introduced to the innovative LaserWeeder from Carbon Robotics, a technology that effectively eliminates weeds without disrupting soil microbiology. By reducing the need for manual labor and herbicides, the LaserWeeder promotes regenerative farming practices and higher crop yields.

The tour continued to Boratto Farms, another leading salad and vegetable producer in Bacchus Marsh. Owner/Director Dino Boratto emphasized the importance of understanding every aspect of the property to optimize farming practices. The Boratto family is dedicated to integrating new technologies and sustainable practices into their operations, including advanced software systems for farm management and compliance.

One such system, Onside, allows visitors to farms to check in, receive relevant information, and comply with health and safety regulations. By scanning QR codes and entering personal details, delegates could access vital information about the property and ensure a safe and productive visit.

Overall, the farm tours at Hort Connections 2024 provided valuable insights into the future of farming, highlighting the importance of innovation, sustainability, and technological advancements in the horticulture industry. As delegates witnessed firsthand the impact of automation and new technologies on agricultural practices, they gained a deeper understanding of the evolving landscape of modern farming.