500 JOBS: FKG proposes massive new greenhouse project
A MASSIVE Queensland-first intensive greenhouse project will employ nearly 500 Toowoomba residents once approved by the council.
FKG Group's pioneering "intensive horticulture" development, based on 64 hectares of land in western Toowoomba, would produce 15 times the amount of vegetables a normal broadacre crop would yield.
Plans were submitted to the Toowoomba Regional Council this week, showcasing a project that has never been done before at this scale in this state.
FKG property development group manager Dallas Hunter, who was also behind the company's innovative Pulse Data Centre and its newly-proposed power station, said he wanted to revolutionise agriculture in Australia.
"The world has a problem - in the next 30 years there are going to be another two billion people. If we stay with our broadacre production system, we're not going to feed them," Mr Hunter said.
"Countries like the Netherlands and Spain have shown you can increase the yield on the same land size through greenhouses.
"This will change the way we feed the world in 2050."
According to the development assessment plans submitted through Property Projects Australia, the 42 hectares of greenhouses will consist of six structures, built over four stages.
Packing houses would be built and contain nurseries, staff rooms, storage areas and loading areas.
FKG would also build 184 car parking spaces to cater for its new workforce, and install turning areas for b-double trucks.
Mr Hunter said the proposed facility used less water than traditional methods, but its energy use was much higher.
"We can basically increase production by about 15 times through this method," he said.
"It uses water, but it's water use per kilogram of product is reduced compared to broadacre cropping.
"Other people won't have the power allocation we will, and it ties in with the (150-megawatt solar-gas hybrid) power plant we've submitted.
"This wouldn't happen without it (going ahead)."
On top of its increased production, the new facility would be just down the road from the Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport, opening the opportunity to export food around the world.
Mr Hunter said the company was considering its options on international freight.
"Toowoomba is particularly well-located for export logistics, with the Port of Brisbane and Wellcamp Airport," he said.
"Our climate and logistics are the key reasons people would choose to come here."
Workers would cover roles like mechanical duties, maintenance and harvesting.
Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio said FKG Group was among a group of pioneering businesses on the Darling Downs.
"This is innovative and it's being born here in Toowoomba, and we're very proud of that," he said.