From The Editor

Blog by Managing Editor Christine Brown-Paul

A Plan for the Future

The development of Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology has revolutionised the horticulture industry, particularly in high latitudes where sunshine hours are short, and less intense, and where commercial greenhouse growers are in a relentless drive to reduce energy costs and improve crop quality and productivity. Since its development for horticulture applications, the benefits of LED technology have been weighed in terms of energy efficiency and utility costs. Until recent times, little was known about the effect of light on plants, or what combination of LED light spectra to use to optimise crop quality and yields. See More

The Coming Greenhouse Revolution

Over the next five years, the value of the ‘smart’ greenhouse market globally is forecast to reach USD 1.2 billion as growers turn to advances in technology for better and faster crop yields; where crops will be grown in urban environments without human intervention. This is the conclusion of a report published by the world’s largest market research store (, whose clients include some of the world’s largest businesses. The report not only provides revenue forecasts, but also sheds light on drivers, restraints, opportunities, market trends, and the technologies expected to revolutionise the smart greenhouse domain. It also profiles various companies active in smart greenhouse markets, providing detailed market ranking analysis, mergers and acquisitions, collaborations, partnerships, new product developments, and the key growth strategies of each player. See More

Climate Change & Species Migration

On a recent visit to Northern NSW, I had a discussion with a grower about climate change. Global warming is a topic I have avoided over the years owing to a range of divergent views; even though 97% of scientists agree climate change is occurring. The skeptics argue that the climate models are unreliable or that human activity is playing a relatively minimal role in global warming. Given the number of catastrophic weather events in recent times, I was interested in what the grower had to say. I quickly came to realise that climate change is more than just about changing weather patterns. See More

New Food Paradigm

With the fascination of images beamed back to earth of Pluto, and the discovery of an Earth-like planet located 1400 light years away in the Cygnus constellation, it seems appropriate that we continue the space theme with our story of eight aspiring astronauts cocooned in a Mars-like habitat on top of Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano. The aim of the mission was to study the group’s cohesiveness over the eight months of simulated long-duration space travel, to figure out how to pick a crew that works well together, that’s able to stay positive, happy and productive. The mission demonstrated that plants grown hydroponically not only supplemented a diet of freeze-dried food, but also had a positive effect on crew behaviour. See More

Reducing Food Waste

Ordering fresh fruit and veg online is not a new concept. In Australia, Coles and Woolworths supermarkets, and farmers markets such as Harris Farms, aussiefarmers and sydneyfresh, all offer online shopping for fresh food, including free home delivery offers. Among the mix are also many online specialty e-services such as charlesfruitmarket, doorsteporganics, thelettuceshop and buyfruit that offer ‘Australian grown’ and organic produce. See More

Australian Berry Industry Snapshot

Berry production promises to be the next big thing in the Australian commercial hydroponics and greenhouse industry, driven by new varietal developments, better growing systems, and consumer demand for safe foods that deliver health benefits. Over a relatively short time, the industry has expanded from the cooler regions of southern Australia to the sub-tropical regions of NSW and Queensland, and soon to tropical Far North Queensland. See More

What a waste!

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that roughly one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, about 1.3 billion tons per year, enough to feed 870 million undernourished people. This also means that huge amounts of the resources used to produce food are used in vain, and that greenhouse gas emissions caused by the production of food that gets lost or wasted, are also emissions in vain.

The waste occurs throughout the supply and distribution chain, from initial agricultural production through to perishable goods that spoil without ever leaving the supermarket and final household consumption. See More

New Light Paradigm

The rapid advancement of light and light-based technologies over recent years signals a new paradigm. In much the same way that digital technology changed our daily lives, so too are advancements in light technology. From elementary indicator lamps in calculators and microwave ovens, Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) and laser technology have advanced to applications such as street lighting, stadium and building lighting, aviation and automobile lights, traffic signals, camera flashes, phototherapy to diagnose and treat medical conditions, food production and pest control. The list of new light applications grows almost by the day. See More

Accredited Online Courses

This issue marks a special partnership between Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE (GOTAFE) and Practical Hydroponics & Greenhouses magazine, to offer a series of TAFE-accredited online courses to our readers worldwide. The first online course, Certificate III in Production Horticulture, will be launched at the forthcoming Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA2015) in Abu Dhabi on 9 March 2015. See More

Colonising Space

Our feature story, Space Farming, highlights that mankind is creeping closer to colonising the Moon, Mars and beyond. Showing the way is an experiment on the International Space Station, which uses a very simple chamber similar to a mini greenhouse to grow edible plants for space station inhabitants. Since 2002, the chamber has been used to perform almost continuous plant growth experiments, and has produced some surprising results that will benefit Earth-based greenhouses and controlled-environment agricultural systems. The ultimate goal for researchers is to develop sustainable food production systems for deep space exploration and space colonisation, perhaps in our lifetime. See More