Hort Innovation is the grower-owned, not-for-profit research and development corporation for Australia's horticulture industry. Its role is to advance Australia’s $16 billion horticulture industry by investing in research and development, marketing and trade to build a prosperous and sustainable future for growers.
2024 Nuffield Scholar
Harvesting and storage – the missing puzzle pieces for garlic and onions
2024 scholar Jacob Moon works in his family's business, Moonrocks, as an engineering and maintenance manager. The family started Moonrocks 24 years ago, and produces pumpkin and cotton, and are leading producers of garlic and onions.
Jacob, from St George, Queensland, has noticed that at Moonrocks, they are only able to machine harvest onions in certain areas.
Given the benefits of machine harvesting – primarily a reduced reliance on labour – Jacob is interested in researching how machine harvesting can be applied more broadly, as well as how post-harvest management can increase shelf life for onions and garlic.
“Soil conditions currently play a large part in limiting the use of machine harvesting,” says Jacob.
“But I believe there are ways to undertake machine harvesting of onions in all soil conditions. My goal isn’t just to benefit our business, but the onion industry as a whole."
Jacob says increasing the use of machine harvesting could save the onion industry a significant sum of money, with between 70 and 100 people needed to harvest onions and garlic by hand on just one property.
Jacob’s scholarship is supported by Hort Innovation using the Onion Research and Development Levy.
Jacob will travel to countries growing onions and garlic in large quantities, including India, Egypt, America, Brazil, Peru, Japan and some growers in Europe.
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