Enhanced extension for the Australian tea tree industry
Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil, is a popular essential oil known for its antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. The Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, Australia, is indeed considered the heart of the tea tree oil industry, with approximately 4000 hectares of tea tree plantations. This region is well-suited for tea tree cultivation, with its subtropical climate, high rainfall, and fertile soils.
Tea tree oil production in the Northern Rivers region began in the 1920s, and today the area is home to several large tea tree oil distilleries and numerous smaller producers. The oil is extracted from the leaves of the tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) using steam distillation, and it is used in a wide range of products, including soaps, shampoos, and cosmetics, as well as for medicinal purposes.
While the Northern Rivers region is the main producer of tea tree oil, there is also a small section of the industry located in the Atherton Tablelands of North Queensland. However, the majority of tea tree oil production occurs in the Northern Rivers region, which has established itself as a major player in the global essential oils market.
Farmacist is the sole extension provider for both regions, through the Agrifutures Australia funded project “Enhanced extension for the Australian tea tree industry”. This is a 3-year project ending in April 2024 that focuses on developing resources for the industry, including fact sheets, videos and hosting informative field days and training events.
While the industry has experienced a challenging time following the 2022 flooding events, the project has been successful in hosting successful events, including the annual Knowledge To-Know-How forum, a variety of workshops including soils, chemical application and drones and technology, along with producing a wide variety of fact sheets for our farmers.