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Project name Wide Span farming: economic and logistics feasibility study
Funding bodies Horticulture Innovation Australia
Lead researcher Mr John McPhee
Onion Harvest

This project will assess the economics of Wide Span technology being adopted in annual horticulture.

The use of Wide Span technology (sometimes referred to as gantries) would enable adoption of Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) in highly mechanised annual horticulture, such as vegetable production.

There are many economic, productivity and environmental benefits of CTF in crop production, but it is difficult to realise these benefits in annual mixed cropping horticulture because of the incompatibility of current machinery designs.

The availability of economically viable Wide Span technology could transform annual horticultural production systems from the current tractor-based system to one based on Wide Span tractors.

Whole farm and whole of industry economic modelling will test the economic feasibility of WS adoption, and logistics modelling will test the impact of alternative WS concepts on operations such as harvest, and post-harvest transport and product delivery/intake at processing plants.

A key outcome of the project will be improved strategic decision making about further investment in the development and adoption of Wide Span systems for annual horticulture, informed by modelled analysis of the projected economic and logistics costs and benefit.

The project focus is the vegetable industry, although once developed and proven viable, Wide Span technology could be applied to any annual horticultural crop, and the concept could also be applied to perennial horticultural crops.