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.

Looking back, the magazine is a chronicle of the  industry’s development, not only in Australia but worldwide. Although many of our articles are evergreens, over the years there have been new developments, innovations and improved management practices that have led to increased crop quality, yields, and grower profits. The purpose of our ‘Evergreen Series’ over recent issues has been to revisit and update the essential components of these technologies for a new generation of readers, and to refresh the information for our long-time readers. In this issue, we revisit salinity, the accumulation of salts in the nutrient solution, which can be damaging to plants and plant growth. We also refresh the different options available to purify existing water supplies. This article is a precursor to our coming article on disinfection systems, including developing technologies. Understanding these topics—salinity and disinfection—are integral to the success of any growing operation.

Another strength of Practical Hydroponics & Greenhouses is our regular reports on industry conferences, congresses, conventions, symposiums and forums, bringing the latest science, innovations and management practices to our readers worldwide. Attending these events can be expensive, and usually involves travelling long distances when it’s hard for folks to justify leaving the farm even for short durations. Many of our readers have said they appreciate our reports, that they keep them in touch with industry developments and happenings.

Our latest report, SEAVEG 2014, covers a regional symposium held in Thailand, which focused on sustaining small-scale vegetable production and marketing systems for food and nutrition security. With seed companies focused on appearance, taste, disease resistance and shelf-life, the symposium raised some thoughtful issues about the nutritional value of our fruits and vegetables. If it looks and tastes great, and lasts longer, does this also mean it is rich in vitamins and minerals? Or has nutrition been sacrificed in favour of other attributes?

There is no doubt that industry conferences are valuable for grower education and training. However, the most interesting aspect of such events is not the informative and educational moments spent in the sessions themselves: it’s in the  personal and insightful conversations you have with other attendees and industry experts. Although pundits predicted the rise of digital would do away with face to face, the opposite is happening as the value of in-person meetings and conferences rise. Conferencing has become a boom industry. As Australia approaches the southern hemisphere winter, there are four major horticulture conferences on the conference calendar, and a North American study tour. Details of these events are outlined in the News & Products column in this issue.

Steven Carruthers

Posted 31 March 2014