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.
For those readers unaccustomed to keyboards and touchpads, the best solution is to download the single-page PDF file onto your PC, laptop or tablet for offline reading. To accomplish this task, open the online digital magazine, go to the vertical left-hand icon menu and select the ‘download’ icon. Press the PDF option and save the magazine to your hard disk. You will be pleasantly surprised how easy the PDF magazine is to read and scroll without interrupting the flow of information. Like the online version, all links are ‘live’. It’s a simple matter to create your own offline library of magazines.
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These are the words I delivered in my keynote presentation at the International Conference on Soilless Culture held in Singapore in 2005:
The sustainable development of the planet and the ways we feed and clothe the population are major issues confronting the world today. As a global community, we need to advance our expertise in plant production, food technology, sustainable management of natural resources, as well as how we use the natural environment for recreational activities. Agriculture and horticulture specialists will face some of the greatest challenges in the 21st century. They will need to assist in the supply of food and fibre products for a growing population that is expected to number 8.9 billion people by 2050. The main challenge will be to supply safe products that are needed for a quality of life while maintaining a healthy planet (ISHS Acta Hort. 742).
Today, this fundamental message is repeated by leading agronomists and in research studies on the future of hydroponics and greenhouse technology. These studies have been undertaken by a wide range of people, from government institutions and universities to nutrition clinicians, urban planners and wastewater specialists, each looking for solutions to modern-day and futuristic problems.
The latest international study by Manifest Minds, a US-based team of independent analysts focused on sustainable technologies, breaks down the reasons why hydroponics can be one way out for some of today’s top issues such as climate change, healthy-eating and labour. However, it is not the end-all solution, say the analysts. There are not only barriers to be overcome, but also potential pitfalls such as more investments and higher need of technical knowledge. The report, reviewed in this issue, provides a competitive assessment of the hydroponic food production market, the forces shaping it and the technologies and skill sets involved. It covers important issues and trends affecting agriculture and food security that make hydroponics a viable and growing market. The report concludes that the economics of greenhouse/hydroponic food production should continue to be one of the main drivers for global industry expansion. It also warns prospective growers and investors not be blinded by the fundamental fact that hydroponics is not magic; that its success is the result of technical proficiency and years of experience. Importantly, the report does not advocate hydroponics at all costs, in all situations, that agricultural intensification and efficiency takes many paths to solving food production issues.
PH&G June 2014 / Issue 144