From The Editor

Blog by Managing Editor Christine Brown-Paul

2015 Conference Circuit

This year promises to be another busy year on the conference circuit within Australia’s main economic zone, starting with the Global Forum for Innovation in Agriculture (GFIA 2015), to be held in Abu Dhabi in March. A key element of this event will be a summit on Climate-Smart Agriculture, a strategic farming approach designed to raise agricultural productivity while mitigating the effects of climate change. The event is expected to attract the entire agricultural value-chain—from agribusiness and academia to policy and investment—to witness more than 400 presentations of game-changing ideas with the potential to fundamentally change the way food is produced, processed, stored, distributed and consumed. Our story in this issue on Sundrop Farms is an example of innovative technology with the potential to produce food in the dry, arid regions of the world, such as Australia, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, with no need for fresh water or fossil fuels. See More

Lighting the Way

LED technology continues to make news as growers look for ways to increase yields and drive down energy cost for supplemental/assimilation lighting, especially in high and middle latitudes where day length is short. The development of the high-brightness blue LED has also seen the emergence of plant factories in urban environments to grow a range of fresh greens for consumer consumption, rather than import produce over long distances. In fact, plant factories have become the fastest growing sector in the protected cropping industry in cities across the world. See More

The Promise of Aquaponics

This issue has a strong focus on aquaponics, and points to the future of food production systems at a practical level to feed a growing population. However, commercial aquaponics has a long way to go before devotees can earnestly claim it is a sustainable food production system. See More

Farm Chemical Safety

The recent tragic death of a North Queensland greenhouse grower highlights the importance of workplace hazard identification and the safe storage and security of chemical fertilisers. Adrian Stanley (49) had washed out two drums and was welding one when it exploded. Police suspect chemical fumes may have sparked the explosion. See More

Cutting Edge Knowledge Centre

Following our story in the previous issue on a new state-of-the-art greenhouse research and training facility at the University of Western Sydney (UWS), in this issue we profile Wageningen UR University in The Netherlands, where much of the UWS design inspiration will come. See More

New Industry Growth Phase

Steven Carruthers

Steven Carruthers

The Hydroponics Farmers Federation conference, recently held at Club Mulwala Resort, New South Wales, heralded a new growth phase for the Australian protected cropping industry with the inclusion of an aquaponics position within its charter. As far as I am aware, this is a first by an Australian commercial grower organisation and signals a broadening of the industry. See More

New Bumblebee Campaign

Bombus terrestris

Bombus terrestris

Once again, Australian hydroponic and greenhouse growers have launched a campaign to allow the use and commercial rearing of bumblebees to pollinate important greenhouse crops, this time in Tasmania. Currently, the possession and use of bumblebees is prohibited in Australia, including Tasmania where they appeared in 1993. See More

Digital magazines for Baby Boomers

Since becoming a digital-only magazine, reader feedback has been excellent, mostly from ‘Generation Y’ and ‘Generation Z’ readers, many of whom have never experienced the pre-internet world. Many will go on to become tomorrow’s commercial growers, suppliers and industry researchers. However, for many Baby Boomers and ‘Generation X’ readers, transitioning from paper to digital magazines can be frustrating. Despite all the merits of digital publications, reading content on screen is not as ‘fluid’ as paper magazines. The main complaint is that it’s frustrating to zoom, read and scroll between double pages without interrupting the flow of information. See More

Fabled Gardens Unearthed

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon have fascinated ancient and modern-day scholars for well over 2000 years. They were listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world; but there has been no physical evidence to prove they really existed. There is no mention of the fabled gardens in any of the known Babylonian writings or carvings of the time, with most accounts of their existence based on tales told by returning travellers and soldiers, and written about over 300 years later by Greek writers who never actually saw them. See More

Evergreens for a growing readership

Since our first issue, Practical Hydroponics & Greenhouses magazine has focused on practical ‘how to’ articles, drawing on the experience of industry experts and practitioners to explain the fundamentals and intricacies of soilless culture, greenhouse technology, and Integrated Pest Management strategies. Fully indexed on our website, the volume of information published over more than two decades is astonishing; a valuable, easy-to-access resource for existing growers and newcomers to the industry. See More