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Regulation changes make it easier for horticultural producers to protect their crops

Monday, 9 April 2018

Horticultural producers across South Australia will be able to improve their fruit quality and yields, thanks to the introduction of the Development (Horticultural Netting) Variations Regulations 2018.

The new regulations, which came into effect on Sunday, 8 April 2018, will enable commercial producers to install netting without the need for planning approval through councils, to protect their crops from damage incurred by birds, flying foxes, as well as hail, sun and wind burn.

Building rules consent for netting is still required.

This change will save time and money to businesses, for netting systems which are now considered a fundamental part of modern horticulture production.

Horticulture netting will be exempt from planning approval as long as the conditions (as outlined in the regulations) are met, which include reducing visual impact (dark side-netting with a maximum height of six metres), minimum setbacks from road reserves and dwellings, minimum conditions for fire truck access and more.

The reforms also create a consistent set of building approval fees across councils for horticultural nets, providing certainty to growers.

According to industry assessment, the October 2017 storm impacted 85 per cent of orchards in the Adelaide Hills, with an estimated crop loss of $32 million – data shows that under nets, less than 17 per cent of fruits were damaged.

South Australia’s horticulture industry was worth $3 billion in gross food revenue last year and we want to ensure our crops are protected and the fruit quality is second to none.

Netting on horticultural crops such as apples, cherries and citrus has many benefits including reducing the impact of frost and hail, increasing water use efficiency, protection from fruit bats, as well as reducing chemical use and spray drift.

It is also increasingly required by breeders of new fruit varieties and provides added benefits including water savings, reduction of frost prevalence, soil erosion, etc.