Christopher Maisel Age 25, Dimbulah, QLD

Business Maisel Ag Pty Ltd (Trading as Rocky Top Farms)
Expertise Bachelor of Agribusiness and Applied sciences
Crop Focus Pawpaw/Papaya, Limes
Methods IPM, pulse irrigation, natural biological control and constant pest and dsease monitoring

What's your current focus on the farm?
My current focus is to decrease the average age of the plantings on the farm. This will enable us to be working with younger, more vigorous plants that are less susceptible to pests and diseases.

What’s your favourite beneficial bug? And why?
Phytoseiulus persimilis- (Persimilis)
Spider mites, in particular the two-spotted mite, are a major pest in pawpaw and papaya, particularly in the cooler, dryer months of the year. Spider mites can cause extensive damage to crop foliage in a short period of time, causing premature leaf fall, lowering plant productivity. Persimilis are a predatory feeder of two-spotted mites and are able to prey on all stages of their lifecycle, making them an effective biological control agent in my situation.

How do you feel about being nominated for the Young Grower of the Year award?
My nomination was a surprise and I am humbled to know that I am being considered for the award.

Why do you think it is important to honour young growers?
I believe many young growers would feel as if they are in an industry where they have to prove themselves and their concepts or theories against the entrenched old guard. By honouring their commitment to the industry, it opens the door for many other young growers.

What are some of the major challengers for young growers? 
In horticulture we have a heavy reliance on labour, water and varieties. Young growers are likely to face these challenges at many times in their career. Addressing key issues like these is essential to the future sustainability of our industry.