Australian start-up Nectar Farms is planning to create the largest hi‐tech glasshouse operation in Australia – and has announced its second proposed site at Oberon in regional NSW.
‘Smart farming’ – the application of technology to vastly increase the efficiency of farming and agriculture, is in its infancy in Australia, but has the potential to increase Australian food security and deliver on the much vaunted promise of Australia as the food bowl for Asia.
But Miles Sterrick, Director of Nectar Farms, is just as focused on the social impact Nectar Farms can bring to the community of Oberon.
“Our Mission is to be the leading glasshouse operation in Australia, but we are also committed to bringing employment, training and innovation to regional communities. In Oberon, we plan to invest $120 million over the next four years and create over 500 jobs when fully operational.”
Oberon, in the Southern Tablelands of NSW, is about 130 km from Sydney.
“We will provide modern, high value employment to Oberon, including training and mentorship programmes, and we are currently in discussions with skills and training providers to help bring innovation and internship programmes direct into the community”
Sterrick is also proud of the environmental impact of Nectar Farms’ hydroponic operation.
There are many benefits of hydroponic production:
- Approximately 10 times the output of field grown produce
- Significantly Less water usage – for example, for field produce, $100 of output requires over 37,000 litres of water. For hydroponic operation, the same output requires under 1,000 litres
- No chemical pesticides ‐ the crops are grown in a controlled environment with the use of good bugs, so no chemical pesticides are required.
- And, hydroponic crops have excellent nutrition and taste, equal to the best quality produce available.
When asked why Oberon had been chosen as a site, Sterrick explained that its climate was “… just perfect – high winter light, not too warm and humid to attract pests and require cooling, but also not too cold. Oberon is Just right!”
And it also makes sense for other practical reasons. Its only 2 ½ hours from the major distribution hub of Sydney, and has good quality infrastructure and utilities.
“We’ve assembled a really experienced team at Nectar Farms to make this happen, and we’re utilising the very latest glasshouse technology from the Netherlands.
“We’re all truly excited about this opportunity and can’t wait to work with the community of Oberon to make it happen.”
About Nectar Farms
Nectar Farms is an agri‐business dedicated to transforming the current Australian farming model. Founded in 2014 on the belief that successful agri‐business can work hand‐in‐hand with the local community, while also safeguarding the environment.
Its smart farming system focuses on glasshouses, hydroponics and high‐wire cultivation. They are currently building the first two projects ‐ one in Stawell, Victoria, and the other in Oberon, NSW, which will have a total of 80 hectares of glasshouse facilities when fully operational. These two sites alone will represent 50% of the current large‐scale tomato growing glasshouses in Australia. The projects are expected to create over 1,000 jobs and add $125m p.a. regional value.
“Our goal is to become the leading protected‐cropping horticulture company in Australia – which in turn will: support Australian food security; promote regional Australian communities through employment, training and innovation, and; protect the environment through clean energy, resource conservation and clever planning”
Learn more at www.nectarfarms.com.au Ω
Posted 11 February 2016