Planting has taken place today at a trial manuka plantation site in the State's Mid North, as part of a project exploring the viability of growing the premium product in the region.
Iconic South Australian brand Spring Gully Foods is exploring the potential for Leptospermum scoparium (manuka) production in a three-year trial on 10 hectares of land in the Wirrabara Forest Reserve.
The trial is being conducted through a joint partnership between Spring Gully Foods, Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) through its research division South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), and ForestrySA.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the project would explore the possibility of an innovative new industry in the Mid North.
"This Spring Gully Foods trial site is a great example of exploring business and land use diversification in the Mid North region," said Minister Whetstone.
"Manuka is a fast growing plant used in the production of manuka honey. After its useful life producing honey, manuka timber can be harvested as a speciality firewood.
"PIRSA's research division SARDI has been working with Spring Gully Foods to review the potential of growing manuka at the Wirrabara site and to design the research trial. They will also provide annual assessment of data collected on the performance of the plants.
"A number of selections of manuka were planted under a range of irrigations to determine their performance for commercial production in South Australia.
"The potential of this project is exciting, and could be the start of a unique new industry for the region. With this comes the positive economic impact and the creation of jobs as the opportunities are realised for any future manuka production."
Spring Gully Foods Managing Director Kevin Webb said the company was excited at the potential outcomes of the manuka plantation trial.
"With global demand for the product at a high, we are looking forward to seeing the results of the trial and whether manuka production is viable in the region," said Mr Webb.
"If successful this trial could result in a new product line for Spring Gully Foods, creating new jobs and export opportunities for the company.
"We are thrilled to have the expertise of the University of Adelaide assisting us with this trial to ensure the best outcome possible."