Blowin’ in the wind

At the time of writing, in the US, Hurricane Harvey – deemed category 4 – continues to cut a swathe of destruction, leaving in its path countless numbers of damaged lives, homes and businesses as the death toll in its wake continues to climb. Record amounts of rain have fallen in Texas as a state of emergency has been declared with more than 30,000 people left homeless. So far, 15 trillion gallons of water have fallen on Houston – more than twice as much as fell on New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

The devastation of the Gulf Coast environment and agriculture is incalculable, threatening Texas’ economy and will likely have huge impacts on farmers in the area and around the US. Heavy rains and winds of up to 215kph have effectively wiped out many farms, smashing greenhouses and leaving a trail of untold damage.

Our lead story, Against the wind is a timely reminder of the power of Mother Nature and her capability for destruction. In the face of such challenges, one US company has developed the first hurricane-resistant commercial-scale greenhouse structures. The system was engineered specifically to address the challenges in agricultural production in high-risk climate areas such as the Caribbean and Pacific Islands, which are threatened each year by hurricanes and typhoons (see our story Caribbean Fresh last issue PH&G Issue 182).

Turning to other challenges of nature, we report on how the NSW Department of Primary Industries has released a pocket guide for growers as a response to the Tomato Potato Psyllid outbreak while our book review looks at the American Phytopathological Society’s latest publication, which outlines how growers can identify and manage raspberry and blackberry pests.

Elsewhere in this issue, Dr Mike Nichols covers the recent Protected Cropping Australia conference while our story Next generation hydroponics profiles the Taiwan Hydroponics Development Company (THDC), which has a newly developed fibre track method (FTM) for planting that is a next generation flood and drain system.

These and other stories await your reading pleasure.

Enjoy this issue!

Christine Brown-Paul

September 2017 / Issue 183