Fast growing food production

Happy New Year to all our readers and welcome to this year’s first issue of Practical Hydroponics & Greenhouses.

One of our news items in this issue describes how, despite Australian vegetable farm profits being on the increase, the number of farms has decreased. Although the average vegetable farm is making more money and earning higher prices for its produce, cash costs are continuing to rise across the board.

The ABARES report, which was a strategic levy investment using the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund, indicates that the value of the Australian vegetable industry increased to around $3.6 billion in 2015-16, accounting for around six per cent of the gross value of agricultural production.

At the same time, Australia is rapidly becoming a world leader in protected cropping, as farmers look for creative ways to grow more food using less land and resources. Protected cropping is one of the fastest-growing areas of food production in the country, with almost 30 per cent of all Australian farmers growing produce in some form of a soil-less culture system, according to peak vegetable industry body, Ausveg.

Former Protected Cropping Australia chairman Robert Hayes said the efficiencies of protected cropping were the biggest drawcard.

“It’s the best way to use your water. We don’t waste any fertiliser at all, there’s zero discharge effectively in to the environment, and we can have a much better control of our quality,” he said.

“We are in business 52 weeks of the year.”

Several stories in this issue touch on the importance of hydroponics as an efficient growing system. In his article, Growing notes from Armenia, Dr Mike Nichols suggests that while Armenia is hydroponically growing crops such as hops, and stevia, the virtual absence of any work on conventional horticultural crops, particularly under greenhouse conditions, would appear to be an error of judgement.

Also in this issue, Dr Wilson Lennard, Australia’s foremost aquaponics expert continues his series on aquaponics, looking at the system chemistry of the aquatic environment.

These and other stories await your reading pleasure.

Enjoy this issue!

Christine Brown-Paul

PH&G January/February 2018 – Issue 186