Adrian and Mandy Schultz of Luvaberry are no strangers to the ‘s’ word. They’ve had sustainability at the forefront of their operations since establishing their Wamuran farm 20 years ago.
The Schultz family’s view of sustainability encompasses not only the environment, but also health of their business. As the President of the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association, the ongoing viability of other small to medium growing operations is close to Adrian’s heart as well.
Changes Adrian and Mandy have built into their operations to look after the environment have also provided them with new revenue streams.
The range of freeze-dried berry crunches, berry dust, and strawberry honey available on the Luvaberry website is a prime example. When a strawberry glut some years ago threatened to create a large amount of waste, Mandy froze and sold the fruit in one kilo bags. This evolved into the freeze-dried product range.
Meanwhile, out in the field, Adrian and Mandy take a fusion farming approach.
“It’s about taking the best of organic and the best of conventional practices,” Adrian said.
Adrian pointed out that although historically strawberries were one of the most likely fruits or vegetables to contain pesticide residue, growers are working to reduce the use of harsh chemicals by either purchasing softer options or adopting non-chemical methods like integrated pest management (IPM).
Now, Adrian is exploring sustainability on another front with Growcom’s SEQ Water Quality project, to investigate how the strawberry industry can further enhance its practices to protect waters in the Pumicestone catchment.
Project Officers Tim Wolens and Lene Knudsen have been working with the other most prolific crop in the Pumicestone catchment—pineapples—investigating a range of practices with growers.
These include bioreactors to manage nitrogen on farm, precision farming to improve nutrient and pesticide application efficiency, and various soil erosion control measures.
The aim is to address nutrient, pesticide, and sediment entering local waterways leading into Pumicestone Passage and onto Moreton Bay.
As well as bioreactors, Adrian is also interested in polymer sprays that can prevent erosion.
He’s open-minded about working with Tim and Lene to see what’s possible.
“There are good operators out there doing good things, but we could always do it better,” Adrian said.
Growcom is the projects and programs delivery arm of Queensland Fruit & Vegetable Growers. The SEQ Water Quality Project is proudly funded by the Department of Environment and Science.