Queensland has an established and highly competitive turf grass production industry. Industry estimates in 2006 indicated that there were 152 producers throughout Queensland, in the tropical north, the Toowoomba and Darling Downs area, and South East Queensland. In Australia, 72% of product is sold within a 100 km radius of the farm (Aldous et al., 2007).
The economic value of the industry at the farm gate in Queensland is forecast to be $105 million in 2009-10, a slight (5%) downturn from the previous year’s forecast. In the first half of 2009, the global financial crisis saw a moderate level of demand maintained in the residential, renovation and infrastructure market segments, but a noticeable drop off in demand in the commercial, subdivision and development segments.
The relaxation of permanent water restrictions has improved the ability of consumers to care for turf grass. This provides an opportunity for the turf grass market to expand because of improved customer confidence in their ability to successfully maintain and renovate lawns.
When considering moving into turf production, it is vital to consider what the likely demand might be for your product and what your competitive edge is (e.g. service, varietal choices, locality). As circumstances change, review your situation as you may need to shift to something new.
Like other rural industries, producers battle rising input costs such as petrol, fertiliser and labour. Selling under cost to gain a short-term competitive advantage is a problem within the industry. A tightening of water restrictions could undermine consumer confidence in their ability to care for turf grass and reduce demand for product.
Unlike many other farming enterprises, many turf farms are vertically integrated. That is, they not only grow sod, but also often deliver, install and sometimes even maintain it. These enterprises face additional layers of complexity and require a diversified set of skills to do the job well. The turf itself is often reasonably easy to grow, but new entrants need to break into a relatively limited market niche, in which existing producers have well-established networks.
Sod: grass and part of the soil held together by grass roots; harvested product from turf farms, seen as rolls or mats
These are only a small selection of the publications available.
Aldous, DE, Haydu, JJ and Satterthwaite, LN 2007, ‘Economic analysis of the Australian turfgrass industry’, Project TU06004, Horticulture Australia Limited.
Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation 2009, ‘Prospects for Queensland’s primary industries 2009-2010‘, Queensland Government, Brisbane.
Beard, JB 1973, ‘Turfgrass: Science and culture’, Prentice Hall, New Jersey, USA.
Handreck, KA and Black, ND 2002, ‘Growing media for ornamental plants and turf’, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney.
Spencer, J 2002, ‘The definitive guide to Australian turfgrass pesticide management’, Glenvale Publications, Melbourne.
Turgeon, AJ 2008, ‘Turfgrass management’, Pearson Prentice Hall, New Jersey, USA.
- Turf Queensland (formerly Queensland Turf Producers Association)
- Turf Australia (formerly Turf Producers Australia (TPA) Limited)
- Australian Golf Course Superintendents Association Ltd (AGCSA)
- Lifestyle horticulture contacts directory