THE lid has been lifted on the remarkable vegetable production system that is Koala Farms at Gatton.
Showcased as one of Queensland Country Life’s agenda setting Food Heroes events, Anthony Staatz and his team delivered inspiration look at the innovative farming operation which has geared itself to supplying Coles supermarkets.`
The feature of the day was the Cravo greenhouse with its automated roof, which enabled Koala Farms to produce 500,000 seedlings a week to match the farm’s 12 month production system.
The automatically opening and closing roof works by protecting the seedling from unwanted rain while ensuring the young plants grow are able to grow in open air conditions.
The growing system also enables a precise watering regime as well as exacting applications of fertilisers and insecticides, if required.
The 55 visitors to the farm today were also treated to seeing seeds being processed into the growing trays, seedlings being transplanted into the paddocks, the farm’s water management system, and a visit to the packing shed.
PHOTOS: CLICK HERE to see who was at today’s Food Heroes event.
“Our goal is to be packing in the paddock,” Mr Staatz said.
“We’re already washing as we harvest so packaging as we harvest seems to be the next efficiency goal.”
Mr Staatz also explained how soil health was paramount to the future of the farming business.
Ultimately, soil health was directly linked to plant health, minimising diseases and maximising production.
Koala Farms has started a program to increase the carbon levels of the soil using a compost made from 90 per cent bark mulch and 10pc chicken manure.
While difficult to measure, Mr Staatz said the additional of the mulch at 2 cubic metres to the acre had improved soil structure, making the soils more manageable particularly after weather events.
“We’re still to see if if actually increases soil carbon levels,” Mr Staatz said.
“But what we have already achieved is soils that recover much more quickly after wet weather events and we no longer have wet areas in paddocks.”
The Food Heroes day also featured notable guest speakers including Growcom chief executive officer Pat Hannan, Tim O’Grady from Bayer, and Fresh Select marketing expert John Said.
Queensland Country Life’s next Food Heroes event will be hosted by leading South East Queensland dairy farmers, the Platell family at Beaudesert. RSVP for that event is by May 1 on email: email@example.com