From The Editor

Blog by Managing Editor Christine Brown-Paul

Critical Solutions

The inaugural Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA), and World Food Security Summit, recently held in Abu Dhabi, delivered a much-needed boost for growers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Middle East, as well as African nations coming to grips with water scarcity and food security issues. A key issue facing  UAE farmers in the development of a modern hydroponic/greenhouse industry is the lack of training, which is also manifest in other dry, arid regions of the world.

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Lighting in Horticulture

This issue has a strong focus on lighting in horticulture, including the latest research and development in light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Representing the biggest advancement in horticultural lighting since the development of High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps, LEDs are increasingly used for controlled environment research (growth chambers), lighting for tissue culture, lighting for plant propagation (plant factories), and supplemental and photoperiod lighting for greenhouses in countries with seasonal low light levels. See More

Editor’s Announcement

This issue marks a new chapter in the production and distribution of Practical Hydroponics & Greenhouses. There is no doubt the Internet and pace of new technology has had a major influence on how publications are produced and distributed. Looking back, we began publishing the traditional way, typesetting galleys and designing on boards that were photographed and turned into printing plates. With the introduction of PCs and clever software, we progressed to multimedia production then moved to digital publishing.

Some say we have made brave decisions as a small magazine publisher, but in reality it has been more a case of moving with the technology or risk falling circulation and redundancy like so many other niche publications. However, despite this new technology, magazine publishing is still a graveyard industry, where reduced revenues are eaten away by high production costs, and electronic processing and delivery fees. Nothing has changed since the days of print. In the new digital age, production costs and digital processing and delivery providers take the lion’s share of revenue as publishers struggle to retain profitability, as well as ownership of their content. With digital processing and delivery costs that exceed print distribution costs, e-newsstands are no longer sustainable for free publications such as Practical Hydroponics & Greenhouses magazine.

To remain viable in this ever-changing publishing environment, we have taken back control of our subscriber base and content by making Practical Hydroponics & Greenhouses, and our back issues, freely available direct from our website. As time progresses, all our back issues will be available on the website, along with an easy search index to locate articles of interest.

Enjoy the free journey!

Steven Carruthers

Supermarket Code of Conduct

The new Voluntary Code of Conduct by Australia’s largest supermarket chains, Woolworths and Coles, will be a turning point in grower–supermarket relationships; but only if it has legislative teeth. See More

Red October

In Australia, the bushfire season has arrived early with devastating property losses across New South Wales. It’s a miracle casualties and property losses were not higher, but for improved bushfire warnings, pre-determined evacuation plans, and the State Rural Fire Service, whose volunteer firefighters are among the best in the world. Weather experts say Australia is headed for another record hot year, even if temperatures are average for the remainder of 2013, which is unlikely. See More

Open Industry Invitation

Steven Carruthers, Managing Editor

Steven Carruthers, Managing Editor

The recent announcement of interest-free loans to United Arab Emirates (UAE) farmers could be a shot in the arm for Australian hydroponics, aquaponics and greenhouse businesses. Under the UAE program, farmers will be incentivised to transition from traditional to modern agricultural methods such as adopting a hydroponics system that can reduce water consumption by up to 80%. To help this program along, a Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA) will take place in Abu Dhabi in February 2014. See More

Industry Growth Forecast

It’s heartbreaking to watch Australian farmers and food processing industries go to the wall because of cheap imports and supermarket price wars. A case in point is the Coles supermarket milk price war that has hit processor profits and forced down milk prices to farmers to where the majority are making losses. Two-and-a-half years later, the supermarket promotion has seen more than 80 dairy farming families leave the industry in Queensland alone, at a time when the State is short of milk to meet the needs of consumers. According to the Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation, the loss of these farmers equates to a loss of some $40 million of investment in fresh milk production, and the loss of 240 jobs at a farm level, as well as more staff losing their jobs along the value chain. See More

Solar Greenhouses

Steven Carruthers, Managing Editor

Steven Carruthers, Managing Editor

In a country like Australia, you would think solar greenhouses would be a way forward to reduce energy costs and minimise the grower’s carbon footprint, but despite the merits of the technology, there is little interest among commercial growers for large-scale photovoltaic systems. Holding back its uptake is the high cost of solar panels, even though there would be lower running costs over time, and risks of hail and wind turbulence damage. Notwithstanding, many growers incorporate a degree of solar technology to run growing  and monitoring systems. See More

No one-size fits all

Our story on hydroponics in India in this issue is a microcosm of hydroponic and modern greenhouse development worldwide. It highlights no one-size fits all. Every country and region has unique environmental, economical, market, political and cultural influences that shape industry development. Local resources, micro-climate and market forces are key factors that determine what crop to grow, the type of growing system to use, and the greenhouse design. See More

Aquaponics in the Spotlight

Aquaponics, the integration of hydroponics and fresh-water aquaculture, is no longer a fringe growing technology. Commercial aquaponic enterprises are now operating successfully in many countries to supply fresh greens and protein-rich fish to nearby and distant markets. However, the growing technology is far from a precise science. See More