As part of our commitment to add value to our members, we have been pleased to offer a programme – available exclusively to our grower members of Passionfruit Australia.  The Noel Day Scholarship Programme has offered scholarships for relevant horticultural skills training each membership year. The scheme is designed to support new learning for new or young growers within the industry and a condition of the scholarship is that the recipient is prepared to share their new knowledge with all members of the Association.

There are currently no Scholarships available due to COVID-19.

Anton Stretch

Anton Stretch

Anton & Marcia Stretch operate the boutique passionfruit farm called Passiondale in Beerwah on the Sunshine Coast. With a background in the RAAF and the Australian Customs Service, Anton really values the horticulture training that has been offered by the Noel Day Scholarship programme.

‘I grew up on a broad acre farm in WA where fertiliser, seed, rain and time were the only ingredients; I’ve since learnt that caring for the microbes should be a fundamental part of our farming actions – learning the actions and sharing that knowledge widely is an endeavour I’m happy to participate in.’

“I’ve just had the pleasure of sharing a week with Graeme Sait and his team at Nutri-Tech Solutions (NTS). Graeme’s energy and enthusiasm is infectious and my 60 odd classmates were likewise affected. He explains the global warming issues in undeniable scientific terms and points out that farmers have been significant contributors to the removal of carbon from the earth’s crust into the atmosphere, inducing the warming rate that now is alarming. He took us on a journey that explains how farmers can significantly help change the tide by re-establishing the humus in our soils that will enhance the carbon levels in soil and enhance our farm profitability. NTS has developed many practical applications of their soil and plant rejuvenation, while this may not be achieved overnight, it can make steady progress to the endeavours which include reduction of phosphate fertilisers, significantly lower use of fungicides, herbicides and pesticides.

The course is applicable for broad-acre, horticulture and vegetable farmers. Some key take-aways for me include: regular leaf tests, annual soil tests, our own use of meters such as the Brix refractometer, removing as much of the educated guess work as possible. Also, foliar sprays are very effective but foliar can’t supply all the potassium, magnesium and calcium to the vines, most of this needs to go through the roots.

I’m left with some key actions; get more carbon into our soil, reduce our dependency on phosphate fertilisers, capitalise on the positive fungi and pest damage reduction opportunity of better plant health and natural defences that are explained.

My thanks to JE Tipper for making this opportunity available to me under the Noel Day Passionfruit Scholarship Programme and if I had known the insights I would receive, I would have taken myself there much earlier!”

Bruce McPherson

Bruce McPherson

Bruce & Tina McPherson run a multi-crop farming operation in Bundaberg with strawberries and passionfruit as major crops. Despite having a long history in Agriculture, Bruce was very interested to explore some of the newer ideas about how to maximise the output from your soil and the NTS course on offer through the Noel Day Scholarship provided the perfect opportunity for him to learn.

In March, I was fortunate enough to be the recipient of a Noel Day Scholarship – generously sponsored by Sydney agent Samsons – to complete the Certificate in Nutrition Farming at Nutri-Tech Solutions on the Sunshine Coast. I probably wasn’t entirely sure what to expect but as it has been a long time since I completed my formal qualification in agriculture, I reminded myself that all further education is valuable, and I was sure to come away wiser than I went in.

The course covers several modules including Mineral Management; Plant Management; Pest Management; Microbe Management and Human Health Management – all delivered by Graeme Sait, a world-renowned nutrition expert. It looks at an integrated and holistic system with the links between soil health, crop resilience, animal vitality and farmer’s health. Sounds all fairly high brow……but it’s delivered in terminology and with practical applications that you know you can take home and put into practice on your own farm…..and in our own case……onto your vines.

Since completing the course there are certainly changes we have made in our systems. I have a much stronger focus on the improvement of soil biology, a greater depth of understanding of nutrient management and interactions, especially the role of micronutrients. We have introduced a more regular pattern of sap and soil testing with the aim of mapping our improvements. We were already using biological controls for pest and disease management (as are many in our industry) but the course reinforced the reasons why and opened up other options in this area. Sustainable weed management alternatives are discussed and suggestions for ground covers for under vines explored.

Farmers are getting a bad rap just now, but we are also the key to the future. We’re not going to fix the problems we face with the same thinking that created them. This course has kick-started for me a bit of a journey of change.

Healthy farms need healthy farmers and the final day focused on this premise. It was a timely reminder to look after our own health and that of our family as well as that of our land.

I would encourage you to take the time to listen to some of Graeme’s podcasts and Tedx talks. In particular “Humus – the essential ingredient” – CLICK HERE

If nothing else, you will hear some really relevant facts about our changing climates and perhaps be inspired to apply yourself for the Noel Day Scholarship! It will give you the chance to take a week out of your farming year and come away a wiser, smarter farmer and your vines will be happier!!

To apply for a Scholarship please complete the form below.  The Scholarships will be awarded to current grower members of Passionfruit Australia Inc who demonstrate in their application a desire to learn and to share that learning for the mutual benefit of all members of the Association.

Conditions of Application

  1. The cost of the course will be paid on behalf of the successful applicant once registration for the course has been completed.
  2. If the applicant fails to complete the course, Passionfruit Australia Inc reserves the right to request a refund of any scholarship monies paid.
  3. The applicant must agree to share their newly acquired skills with other members of Passionfruit Australia through any means that are fair and reasonable.

Apply for a Scholarship

Applications are currently closed.  This is a benefit EXCLUSIVE to Passionfruit Australia Grower members.

Passionfruit Australia wishes to acknowledge the significant contribution of Noel Day to the passionfruit industry. Mr. Day passed away in August 2018 at the age of 92.

Noel Day, his brother Moss, and their families were pioneers of the passionfruit industry. They started farming in 1946 with pineapples, bananas and green beans initially, and moved into growing passionfruit in the early 1960’s on the outskirts of Nambour. Both Noel and Moss were heavily involved with the industry for many decades.

Mr. Day was not only an exceptional grower but the president of the North Coast Passionfruit Growers Association and a member of the passionfruit sub-committee at the Committee of Direction of Fruit Marketing (the forerunner to Growcom). He represented his fellow growers and was instrumental in the development of our industry.

Noel not only grew passionfruit, but bred new varieties including Purple Gold which was one of the mainstays in the 70’s and early 80’s.

The Day’s brand, “Forest Hills Passionfruit”, was the most sought-after fruit on the market floor. Their famous pattern pack was the envy of all growers. Noel also cleaned up all the prizes at the Nambour Show and the Brisbane Exhibition. The number of ribbons he took home was only limited by the number of entries he decided to submit. I have seen “Forest Hills”on 1st ,2nd and 3rd in every category at the Sunshine Coast Show.

Noel Day set a standard to which most of us can only aspire, not only as a fruit grower but as a man. We thank him and his family for their contribution to the passionfruit industry.