The Centre for Agribusiness has been commissioned by the NSW government to write a report which examines the potential for the development of the large-scale glasshouse industry in NSW.
The commission arose after Parliamentary Secretary Scot MacDonald’s opened a new 10 hectare glasshouse at Costa’s facility in Guyra in May this year. MacDonald thinks that there a potentially large opportunities for the development of glasshouse agriculture in the New England area and the report is the first step in exploring this idea.
Glasshouses have historically been located close to markets on fertile soil, but modern greenhouse technology and rapid distribution networks mean that locational and resource constraints (in terms of soil, energy and water) have largely been overcome. For example, this year Sundrop Farms completed work on a 20 hectare glasshouse development in Port Augusta, South Australia which is powered by a solar tower and uses water from the Spencer Gulf that is desalinated in an on-site thermal desalination plant. These large-scale developments are very capital intensive, but productivity can be upwards of fourteen times greater than conventional field-based agriculture.
The report aims to look at the various resource and institutional constraints the industry in NSW faces as well as the possible market opportunities for horticultural crops in Australia and across the world.