The 29th International Horticultural Congress | Sustaining Lives, Livelihoods and Landscapes | 17-22 August 2014
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High Value Vegetables, Root and Tuber Crops and Edible Fungi – Production, Supply and Demand

Sponsored by the ISHS Sections Vegetables and Root & Tuber Crops and the Commissions of Protected Cultivation and Horticultural Engineering

The International Symposium on High Value Vegetables will be held in Brisbane, Australia in 2014 as part of the International Horticultural Congress (IHC2014).

Statistics and many reports tell us that the daily intake recommendations for vegetables are rarely met in today’s society. Both fruit and vegetables are a great source of dietary fibre, essential vitamins and nutrients essential for optimum metabolic function. This deficit represents a marketing opportunity for horticultural producers around the world, as well as being an opportunity for the health and medical industry to reduce health care costs associated with poorly balanced diets. With public health systems around the world under strain from excessive demand and financial constraints, a combined effort from horticultural industries, research, development and extension agencies, health specialists and value chain specialists is needed to increase awareness of the value and benefits of vegetables and edible fungi in diets. High value vegetables and edible fungi also need to be defined in terms other than just health (nutrition, human disease control), but also to include sensory quality, convenience, and ‘belief’ values (eg ‘I will only buy vegetables I know have not affected the environment when grown’). It is well known that the expanding population will place additional demand on agricultural production systems, and that their diversity, productivity, resilience, profitability and sustainability will need to be improved to meet the increasing demands for quality, nutritious food. Modern tools of enhanced plant improvement, precision in agronomic practice, careful resource management and sophisticated post harvest practices in the value chain from farm to consumer will need to be deployed if these challenges are to be met. Vegetables represent a sustainable source of proteins, vitamins, minerals and other nutritional factors such as antioxidants. Increasing the concentration of these while retaining or preferably increasing yields has the potential to enhance human health while creating extra demand and underpinning sustainability of vegetable growers.

The International Horticultural Congress High Value Vegetable Symposium is expected to run for at least two days, with sessions and themes devoted to agronomy, plant protection, post-harvest market chain, processing and nutrition issues, and climate impacts.

We expect the symposium to attract professionals involved in all facets of the vegetable and edible fungi industries. Plant breeders, biotechnologists, agronomists, plant protection specialists, value chain innovators, post-harvest specialists, human nutritionists, allied health professionals and marketing chain specialists from a diverse range of businesses and industry will be represented. We anticipate that participants in the symposium will come from both developed and developing countries, and from International as well as national research agencies and funding bodies. This symposium and the symposium on Indigenous Vegetables (Symposium 13) are expected to run consecutively as this will allow interested vegetable specialists to attend both symposia.

Symposium theme

The overall Symposium theme is "Designing systems to deliver high value vegetable crops and edible fungi", with following sub themes:

Designing crops with high value traits

  • Genetic tools for high value traits
  • Molecular biology of high value traits

Designing production systems for high value vegetables – environment

  • System changes, mechanisation, precision and robotics for improved environmental and soil resource outcomes
  • Climate change impacts on vegetable cropping systems
  • Modifying systems to reduce carbon footprints
  • Minimising pests - Improved effectiveness of pest and diseases management.
  • Water and nutrient efficiencies – optimising the environmental x production outcomes matrix

Designing production systems for high value vegetables – crop production

  • Input management for improved crop productivity systems
  • Crop nutrition and fertiliser systems for enhanced human health
  • Edible fungi systems – bringing new production technologies to the light
  • Vegetables and human health – the future of functional foods in the modern world
  • Modelling system scenarios to improve crop yield and quality

Delivering high value vegetable crops – quality and convenience

  • The post-harvest chain - storage and logistic systems to preserve freshness quality
  • Packaging for convenience and improved product quality: a plastic conflict with environmental outcomes?
  • Innovation in the value chain – getting more product to end users by processing, developing futuristic products and processing technologies for new markets, adding value
  • Wasting away – breaking the low consumption high waste paradigm to deliver a healthy food supply system

Markets and consumers

  • Consumer perceptions and expectations - are they realistic, can they be met profitably?
  • Value chain analysis – identifying market opportunities, capturing value
  • Food miles – an increased carbon footprint or just hot air?


Associate Professor Colin Birch is Leader, Vegetable Centre, a Research, Development and Extension Centre in the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, University of Tasmania. He is also Honorary Reader, The University of Queensland. He has extensive experience and expertise in agronomy, having worked in the fertiliser and agricultural chemical industry, The University of Queensland and the University of Tasmania. He has also had international experience in Wageningen University, The Netherlands, INRA and CIRAD (France) and USDA, and currently leads a vegetable research project in Papua New Guinea.

Dr Bruce Searle is leader of the Field Crops Team of the Sustainable Production Group at the Institute for Plant and Food Research, New Zealand. He has extensive experience in crop physiology, crop nutrition and crop modelling. He currently leads research programmes in onions, brassica and leafy vegetables and the use of precision agriculture for optimum management practices.

Dr Ep Heuvelink is Associate Professor at the Horticultural Production Chains group of Wageningen University, the Netherlands. He has extensive experience and expertise in both academic research and education on ecophysiology and simulation models for crop growth, development and yield. He currently participates is research projects on tomato fruit modelling (systems biology approach), sink/source balance, non-steady state photosynthesis and negative postharvest effects of cultivation of ornamentals under high humidity. Dr Heuvelink is frequently invited as a keynote speaker in international scientific symposia and teaches advanced intensive courses on greenhouse production, crop physiology and crop modelling all over the world.

Keynote Speakers

Dr David Firman is Head of the Potato Agronomy Group at Cambridge University Farm - now part of the UK’s National Institute of Agricultural Botany. He obtained a degree in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge where he remained to complete a PhD on leaf growth and senescence in potato. His research interests over the past 25 years at Cambridge have spanned a wide range of projects from crop nutrition, foliar and tuber diseases, seed physiology and crop modelling. These projects have led to many practical applications adopted by potato growers in the UK and elsewhere including variety specific nitrogen rates, control of tuber blemishing diseases, limiting virus spread and seed rates accounting for seed age that maximise marketable yield. Through the Cambridge University Potato Growers Research Association, David maintains close linkages with growers and the wider potato industry to enable effective communication and practical adoption of research findings. He oversees the development of yield and irrigation modelling systems which are increasingly being adopted by collaborators to improve efficiency and productivity and provide data to guide strategic decisions.

Professor Dr Leo F.M. Marcelis is Professor of Crop Production in Low-Energy greenhouses at Wageningen University in The Netherlands. He is head of the team Crop Management, Physiology and Modelling within the unit Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture. His team consists of 20-25 researchers. He has over 25 years of experience on combinations of experimentation and simulation studies in horticulture. His research focuses on physiology, growth and product formation of crops in order to improve sustainability and quality of horticultural crop production. In particular, fluxes of assimilates, water and nutrients in the plant, sink/source interactions and partitioning among plant organs are subjects of study. He has published over 130 scientific papers (H-index 20 in Web of Science) and over 200 papers in professional journals.

Professor Roger Stanley is Professor of Food Science and Technology and the Foundation Director of the Centre for Food Innovation at the University of Tasmania, Australia. His research and teaching is on value addition to primary produce through improving the quality, health, and convenience properties of foods. The role includes working with Defence to support development of improved nutritional and performance foods for field use by the military. His research focus is on understanding and maximizing the health and performance properties of foods and natural extracts to give commercial products competitive market advantages. He completed a PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Auckland and worked for NZ Crown Research Institutes on added value processing of meat, dairy and horticultural products. Following a move to Australia in 2006 he was Science Leader for the Queensland Government Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries running the Added Value Foods research program. This was followed by a transfer in 2010 to the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation at the University of Queensland (QAAFI) as a Principal Research Fellow. In this role he undertook R&D on processing innovations and the health properties of tropical fruits and vegetables, as well as establishing and teaching a course in Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals within the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences. He has published over 54 papers in the last 10 years and works closely with industry as an expert in value addition to food commodities and by-products.

Associate Professor Calum Wilson leads a plant pathology group within the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) at the University of Tasmania and is the Research Leader for the TIA Vegetable Centre. He has authored over 100 refereed journal articles, book chapters and numerous industry extension articles and conference publications and has received several awards including the 2012 Bayer CropScience AUSVEG “Researcher of the Year” and was a finalist in the Tasmanian Scientist of the Year Awards for 2012 and 2013. His research portfolio is quite diverse with work across a range of plant pathogens and crops with but retains focussed on three major themes: (1) Host:pathogen interactions, resistance mechanisms and genetics; (2) Epidemiology and pathogen ecology, and (3) Disease management.

Scientific Committee

  • Mr David Carey (Australia)
  • Dr Ross Lill (New Zealand)
  • Associate Professor Ep Heuvelink (The Netherlands)
  • Dr Susan Lambert (Australia)
  • Dr Sandra McDougall (Australia)
  • Dr Barbara Hall (Australia)
  • Dr Mark Boersma (Australia)
  • Associate Professor Calum Wilson (Australia)
  • Professor Leo Marcelis (The Netherlands)
  • Associate Professor Colin Birch (Australia)
  • Mr Peter Brown (Australia)
  • Dr Bruce Searle (New Zealand)