Finding the right information on what to consider when building or operating your greenhouse or grow structure can be difficult.

This toolbox contains vital information and resources relating to the design, approvals, construction and safe operation of greenhouses in Australia. A tool specifically designed for growers and the protected cropping industry.

Using the toolbox

Growers can use this toolbox to find information based on a particular farm activity or issue including:

  • General farm management practices
  • Local government approval processes
  • Safe operations management practices
  • Structural provisions and loading
  • Access and egress
  • Other issues and common grower concerns.

For each farm activity and issue there is a practical fact sheet of two to four pages that covers:

  • Key messages
  • What you need to know
  • Important questions to ask
  • Further reading if you want to know more.

You can also search the information based on your type of structure – whether you use low, medium or high technology, the toolbox covers everything you need.

Meeting the needs of the target audience

The target audience for the toolbox are greenhouse (G) or grow structure (GS) growers. The user interface is designed around farm activities and issues, as well as the technology level of the structure (low, medium or high). Consideration will also be given to local government and G/GS builders to improve awareness as a secondary audience of the toolbox.

A recent national survey of greenhouse growers in Australia was undertaken as part of this project. This survey investigated the information needs of growers and where they source information, their preference for receiving information, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the current regulatory system for greenhouse construction and safe operation.

The findings of the survey support the website interface of the toolbox, complemented by soft and hard copies and face-to-face sessions explaining how to use the resources. The top three information sources for growers were:

  • Internet (69%)
  • Resellers (63%)
  • Other growers (63%).

Growers also used the industry body Protected Cropping Australia (56%), but were unlikely to preference local government (13%), the national vegetable industry body AUSVEG (6%), family or friends (0%), or the state government (0%).

The top three preferences for receiving information about greenhouse or grow structures were:

  • Electronically via email or e-newsletters (65%)
  • Hard copy (65%)
  • Face to face (53%).

There was also strong support for online through relevant websites (47%), but little demand for applications on smart phones and/or tablets (12%).

The main areas for improvement of the regulatory system for greenhouse construction and safe operation identified by growers included:

  • Understanding the preparation, lodgement, assessment and approval process with local government (64%)
  • Cost of compliance (64%)
  • Determining if a development application is required (57%)
  • Understanding the compliance process (57%)
  • Requirements for work place health and safety (WHS) e.g. fire prevention (57%)
  • Time taken for approval and compliance (50%)
  • Maintaining fire and egress infrastructure (50%)
  • Knowing where to get information and who to contact (50%).

This provided valuable information for focus areas and framing in the development of the toolbox.