Preserving the Precious Drop

Although the current drought gripping the East Coast of Australia has drawn greater attention to the need to conserve water in rural areas, Withcott Seedlings has long recognised that effective water management in the Australian environment was a key issue facing horticultural businesses.

Managing Director Graham Erhart puts the current drought in stark perspective: "We haven't had serious rainfall here since 1988".

CEO Wendy Erhart notes that in the harsh conditions of the Australian environment, "Food production is a very fine art".

Withcott specialises in growing over 480 million vegetable seedlings annually for distribution to farms around Australia. In addition to minimal annual rainfall, the area within which Withcott is located suffers a water quality problem. They implemented a water catchment and recycling infrastructure that maximises what rainfall reaches the area and reuses that water within the seedling nursery.

"We've spent a lot of money over the last ten years trying to drought proof the nursery and we've been very successful," Graham says. To ensure minimal disruption to the surrounding environment, Withcott works in conjunction with the Queensland Environmental Protection Authority to ensure that their water infrastructure program has a minimal impact on the environment.