South Australian tomato production ramped up with huge glasshouse stage 3

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 18th December 2012

Australia’s largest and most successful indoor horticulture operation,  d’VineRipe, have opened Stage Three of their environmentally-friendly glasshouse operation. South Australian premier, Mr Jay Weatherill, officially opened the multi-million dollar facility extension last week.

The facility is based at Two Wells, less than an hour’s drive north-west of the Adelaide CBD. The facility uses a mix of recycled water and water reclaimed from its 27 hectares of roofing.

d’VineRipe is a joint venture between private investment group, The Victor Smorgon Group, and Sydney-based fresh food marketing specialist Perfection Fresh Australia associated with the Simonetta family. The joint venture has now spent $100 million on this world leading facility, from which stages one and two have yielded excellent returns and changed the face of the fresh tomato market in Australia. Australians have taken to the sweet, flavoursome tomatoes as snacks. Marketing of tomatoes is also made easy by the health-enhancing lycopene that is a natural anti-oxidant carotenoid in tomatoes.

The new production space will bring d’VineRipe production of hydroponic truss tomatoes to 15,000 tonnes per year and the facility’s workforce to the equivalent of 325 full-time equivalent jobs.

The completion extends the glasshouse floor-space from 17 hectares to 27 hectares, on a total property area of 60 hectares. The roof comprises around 140,000 panes of strengthened glass and the walls about 45,000 panes.

Environmentally friendly features include leading-edge pad and fan climate control systems, an on-site reverse osmosis water treatment plant, specialised glass to filter harmful ultra-violet rays, and wind tunnels and pad corridors between glasshouses to prevent wind damage to crops.

Premier Jay Weatherill declared the project was an example of the type of innovation that was making a major contribution to South Australia’s food production.

“This project illustrates some of the great potential that exists in South Australia’s agriculture and horticulture sector – and that potential is the reason why ‘Premium food and wine from our clean environment’ is one of our government’s seven strategic priorities,” Premier Weatherill said.

“The South Australian food and wine industry is worth over $14 billion and accounts for 36 per cent of South Australia’s total merchandise exports. But the potential exists for major growth of this sector,” he added.

The new d’VineRipe glasshouse was built in three stages by van der  Hoeven greenhousebuilders from Holland. The plant also uses a high level of robotics.

D’VineRipe is also working on other environmental projects including using green waste to create electricity, and a trial solar power plant in 2013.

FoodLegal's Joe Lederman in the glasshouse at the d'VineRipe opening last week



View of tomato trusses growing in the d'VineRipe hydroponic glasshouse facility at Two Wells