Labor Upper House Member for Northern Victoria, Jaclyn Symes, today announced the Australian Processing Tomato Research Council (APTRC) as one of six recipients of the Horticulture Innovation Fund.

The Shepparton-based peak industry body will use the $50,000 grant to establish a hyperspectral library for early disease symptoms of processing tomatoes to distinguish between plant disease and other physiological stresses or nutrient deficiency symptoms.

Ms Symes said recent advances in spectral sensing of plant disease have demonstrated the potential of hyperspectral sensing in identifying symptoms for some selected plant diseases.

“This technology will act as an early warning system for growers regarding plant water stress and disease,” Ms Symes said.

“Over 3000 hectares of processing tomatoes are currently grown in Victoria and advances in hyperspectral sensing technology will ensure the sustainability of this sector.

“The $1 million Horticulture Innovation Fund supports businesses to innovate and work collaboratively with research providers to test and adapt new technologies to local conditions ultimate driving the profitability and sustainability of Australian agriculture.

“Victoria accounts for more than half of Australia’s horticulture exports and investing in innovation in this sector will help safeguard it for the future.”

The Labor Government in November 2015 launched the $1 million Horticulture Innovation Fund to provide grants of up to $50,000 to help businesses test and adapt new technologies and processes to boost production.

A key election commitment, the grants are also geared to support projects that will boost horticultural exports into new markets and broaden the diversity of products we sell overseas.

Victoria’s horticulture industry is worth $2.4 billion a year, underpinned by a deserved reputation for providing premium quality, safe and clean products.