Better communication could see food bowl thrive

A LOCAL grower believes improved communication and greater transparency between farmers could be key to unlocking the vast potential of the Northern Adelaide Plains food bowl.

Penfield grower Daniel Hoffman’s family has been growing tomatoes and other vegetables for the past two decades and said if farmers communicated about which crops they were growing to one another, vegetable markets would never become too saturated.

“What went wrong with farming is people trying to lock their ideas down and that’s how we’ve got about 90 per cent of farmers in the Northern Adelaide Plains growing the same thing,” Mr Hoffman said.

“If everybody worked together, nothing would ever be overgrown, you’d never oversupply one product and everybody would make money.”

Mr Hoffman, along with fellow farmer Kevin Le, developed the mobile application ‘FarMate’ a number of years ago to help growers obtain  a better understanding of the prices merchants are selling produce for.

He believes the lack of transparency within the industry even extends to local people and thinks growers and consumers should become more aware of what the other party is doing.

“From the grower point of  view, to the end consumer, nobody really knows what each other are doing,” Mr Hoffman said.

The calls come as growers prepare to tackle the challenging winter period, where farmers from all over the local region are busily preparing,  and adapting, to changing growing conditions.

Mr Hoffman said plants react to wintry conditions similarly to humans, and a bit of extra tender loving care can go a long way out in the fields.

“In spring and summer, everything is alive and happy, whereas in wintertime it’s a bit tired and droopy,” he said.

“This time of the year, you want to keep everything dry because the plant is more or less the same as you.

“I don’t want to get out of the shower on a five-degree morning, so you want to dry your plants out as fast as you dry yourself off.”

While insects eating crops is a prominent issue in the warmer months, growers are now shifting their focus to fighting fungicide and bacterial problems, as well as other soil diseases.

Tom Staggard

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Born and raised in Adelaide's northern suburbs, Tom attended Tyndale Christian School in Salisbury East before studying journalism at the University of South Australia. Tom joined The Bunyip in June 2017 after previously working in the Adelaide Hills for The Courier newspaper in Mount Barker and the Weekender Herald in Crafers. As part of his role, Tom will cover the Adelaide Plains and Playford council regions. Away from work, he is a massive sports fan and loves all things football, cricket, basketball and soccer.

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