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TAS Country : September 30th 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010 Tasmanian Country 7 News VISION: Mark Boersma dissects broccoli in the laboratory at the University of Tasmania Burnie Campus. Picture: CHRIS KIDD JENNIFER CRAWLEY 'I'd like to be able to use it to drive the interaction between the research community and the rest of the vegetable industry.' Vegie boffin on a mission TASMANIAN agricultural scientist Mark Boers- ma has returned from an industry course with a redoubled determination to ''put the value back into vegetables''. The North-West broccoli expert said the six- month leadership course based in Canberra had helped him to form new strategies for getting research findings out of the laboratory and into the ground. Dr Boersma, who is based at the Tasmanian Institute of Agricultural Research Cradle Coast campus in Burnie, was one of 13 people who took part in the course. ''I've learnt stacks,'' Dr Boersma said. ''We covered everything to do with leadership, com- munication, how groups work, how to build teams and leadership theory. ''We ran industry panels where we invited key people from each industry to talk to us about their role in the industry and what they think are current issues. ''I'd like to be able to use it to drive the interaction between the research community and the rest of the vegetable industry,'' he said. Dr Boersma's work at TIAR focuses on solving problems related to plant function. ''I spent three years working on broccoli hollow stem,'' he said. ''We worked out what causes it. It's a big issue for the processing industry, Simplot in particular, because it reduces their net yield. ''I also looked at how head shave affects processing efficiency and where the variation in harvest maturity is introduced into crops. ''You have to pick broccoli five or six times a year to get heads to the right maturity. ''It's quite expensive work but if you can work out where that variability is being introduced you might be able to work out what the causes are and look at doing a once-over harvest.'' The group of growers, wholesalers and scien- tists came away with a vision and mission from the course. ''We chose 'putting value back into vegetables','' Dr Boersma said. ''Not just the vegetables themselves but the vegetable industry, valuing the people across the whole industry.'' The group plans to organising a ''green shirt day'' to draw focus to the industry.
September 23rd 2010
October 7th 2010