Apart from the immense and diverse genetic resource almost entirely unique to Australia, we have a number of huge advantages compared to other countries when it comes to establishing a sustainable plantation based resource. This massive genetic resource is virtually untapped and will open up in the decades to come to form the basis of an exciting developing industry.
- It could be said that there is a Leptospermum selection for nearly every location whether it be the sub-tropical north or the temperate south. These plants will tolerate poor quality soils provided they have adequate rainfall. This range can be dramatically extended into the arid zone with irrigation.
- Australia does not have the feared Varroa destructa mite and provided the quarantine measures are maintained this status will hopefully be maintained. The discovery of Varroa in an infected hive of Asian bees near the waterfront area in Townsville in July 2016 represents a rare incursion which was quickly dealt with by biosecurity officials. This incursion involved the much less harmful parasite Varroa jacobsonii and not Varroa destructa which represents probably the greatest threat to any honey industry in any country. Even if Varroa destructa does find its way to Australia, and becomes locally established, there is still the potential to have at least decentralised sectors of the honey industry remaining Varroa free and having the potential for organic status due to the non-use of chemical agents to control this parasite.
- Australia has a ‘clean green’ image in overseas markets and the honey produced here is widely sought after.
Land is relatively cheap in Australia. The development of Leptospermum plantations can be integrated into existing farming operations in many instances meaning that it may not be necessary to purchase additional land.
Land is also relatively inexpensive in Australia when compared to New Zealand for example. The average price of land in New Zealand in 2014 -15 was $29,000/ha ($11,600/acre). The least expensive land in NZ was $16,300/ha ($6,500/acre) for the ‘grazing and livestock’ land category (including high country) through to the ‘horticultural’ land category at $217,000/ha ($86,800/acre).
(source ANZ Agri Focus / October 2015 / page 15)
By contrast, land suitable for the development of Leptospermum plantations can be readily acquired for <$2,000/ha ($800/acre).
Given that the Leptospermum species currently under consideration are very forgiving and will thrive on poor soils unsuited to mainstream agriculture and horticulture then the value of land could well be considerably less. (more)
Even at this early stage, we can build Bio-active Leptospermum plantations with individual plants with DHA levels of >7,000 ppm (L. scoparium) and >10,000 ppm (L. polygalifolium.)
These levels indicate top medical grade honey yield potential.