A lot of vegies from a little water

Bratasha Farm, QLD

Ray Bertinazzi, his wife Nancy and son Bradley own and operate Bratasha Farm on the Queensland–NSW border, about 2.5 hours south-west of Brisbane. The farm incorporates a field and hydroponic enterprise that supplies fresh vegetables year-round to Woolworths.

Bratasha Farm has been supplying Woolworths since they established more than 18 years ago. The farm produce beans from a 200 hectare field operation, and Asian vegetables, baby cos lettuce and shallots from a 2ha hydroponic system.

Ray has been funded by Woolworths Fresh Food Future to install a water-recycling system, sourced from the Netherlands, that will enable him to grow vegetables using a third of the usually required water and fertiliser. The system sterilises used hydroponic water that, in the past, would have been dumped, and redirects the clean water back into the hydroponic system or out onto field crops.

More than 70 per cent of the carbon pollution generated by vegetable growing stems from the use of electricity and fertiliser. Because Ray now only has to extract one lot of bore water to produce up to three crops, he is saving significantly on these resources, as well as on water, which makes a big difference to the carbon footprint of vegetable production – a win for the farmer, the consumer and the environment.

Ray used the Vegetable Carbon Calculator to determine Bratasha Farm’s carbon footprint before the project was established, and he will assess his footprint again once the recycling system is in place and fully operational. Developed by Horticulture Australia, the Vegetable Carbon Calculator is used across the vegetable industry to estimate the greenhouse gas emissions of on-farm vegetable production systems.

“It will be interesting to see how much our emissions have fallen once we are using less electricity and fertiliser,