Owner/Grower, NQ Fresh - GUMLU QLD
Simon Chapman at Rushel Produce is a young innovative grower who prides himself on producing quality produce for both the local and export market. Simon has earned himself a nomination in the Productivity category because he is always looking at ways to increase production through improved land productivity, crop management, harvest efficiencies whilst continuing to maintain superior fruit quality.
Simon farms 650 acres of Capsicum and Cucurbits in Gumlu and in peak season can employ up to 40 people on farm. Simon is an active member of the local Bowen - Gumlu growers association as well as the Australian Melon Association.
Simon ensures best practices across his farm from ground preparation, growing efficiencies right through to his fruit hitting the market shelves. He works with key seed companies conducting on-farm trials to see first-hand what new varieties are coming through and how they perform under his farming practices. Simon ensures he is up to date with all the latest chemistry, IPM is a particular focus to ensure his crop is protected efficiently.
Interestingly, his on farm water efficiency is controlled by a fully automated trickle irrigation system that can be controlled from anywhere around the world. Any runoff water is captured into recycle ring tanks, allowing it to be recycled.
Controlled Traffic GPS has been installed on Simon’s farming equipment to limit soil compaction and has resulted in a more efficient farming operation. Improvements have also been made to improve harvesting with the ability to grade in-paddock. A specific grading belt has been installed on the harvester, giving pickers the ability to sort fruit for quality and colour in the paddock and then pack on size when it hits the shed.
Rushel Produce packs their fruit under the NQ Fresh packing shed which is a partnership with four other growers in Gumlu. Over the years they have improved the sheds packing efficiency with the inclusion of a new grader and packing line which allows fruit to be sorted specifically by colour vision and the ability to sort blemished fruit.