EXPANDING HORIZONS: Agromillora Australia general manager, Alan Saunders, says the group’s new $3.5million tissue culture lab and acclimatisation facility in Irymple has proved a win for the local industry, while also leading to more local jobs. Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By VINNIE RODI

INCREASED growth and jobs, not to mention improvements to productivity, have proved just some of the major benefits following construction of Agromillora Australia’s new $3.5million Irymple-based tissue culture lab and acclimatisation facility.

Agromillora Australia general manager, Alan Saunders, said the state-of-the-art facility had been close to two years in the making, and had been made possible thanks to funding from the Victorian Government’s Regional Jobs Fund.

The tissue culture lab and acclimatisation facility is designed to provide the most efficient and productive growing conditions possible. Now fully operational, it has been the catalyst for increased staffing levels, and streamlining Agromillora’s operations.

“This new facility enables us to acclimatise all the rootstocks for the almond industry, the stone fruit industry etc., and we’re also using it to do propagation of grapevines, avocados and olive production,” Mr Saunders said.

“It’s a facility that provides a total system where the plants move in through three different sections, while also enabling us to process large volume numbers.

“Before we built this facility we had a tissue culture lab, and while we were producing stock through this lab, we were finding we had a bottleneck to get stock out into production to grow it.

“We no longer have this issue with this new facility. It’s enabled us to scale up production, reduce double handling, grow stock quicker and meet deadlines on time.”

Agromillora Australia is a subsidiary of the international Agromillora Group, which is considered the world’s largest nursery for olive, fruit and nut trees.

The group specialises in tissue-cultured rootstocks for almonds, stone fruits, citrus and other fruits and nuts, while also producing a range of traditionally propagated plants and rootstocks.

In fact its international associations provide access to a range of genetics and high density planting systems, making it arguably the most well-resourced nursery in the country.

Mr Saunders said the new facility has the capacity to produce three to four million plants a year, with an additional 20 employers now needed on-site following the expansion.

“We’re currently employing 55 people in all,” he said. “We’re currently working with avocados, olives using a super high density system, while also growing almond rootstocks for the industry, hybrid rootstocks, and stock for apple, cherries and berry industries.”

The facility is impressive, and occupies close to 6.8 hectares. It features a fully automated watering system, with back-up generators also installed to ensure production is not affected in the event of a power outage.

It’s a facility that is also helping to meet a growing demand for quality rootstocks and fruit trees and vines not just locally, but across the world.

“Our local market in particular is very important, especially with all the developments happening across numerous industries, including table grapes and wine grapes, almonds and citrus,” Mr Saunders said.

“The benefits of this facility has meant that we can scale up production, offering the almond industry rootstocks for example that were not available before. We’ve also been able to provide the industry with better quality planting material.”

Agromillora established its Australian branch 14 years ago, with the group headquartered in Waikerie, South Australia. It moved into Sunraysia three years ago, joining forces with Boulevarde Nurseries Mildura, which had been established in the region for 30-plus years.

“The partnership with Agromillora three years ago has opened up additional resources and so many opportunities,” Mr Saunders said. “This includes a training partnership that we have in place with Certificate III Nursery students from Sunraysia Institute of TAFE.”