Learning from the past

Welcome to this issue of Practical Hydroponics & Greenhouses. Our lead story for this issue, Aquaponics in China traces the resurgence in popularity of aquaponics in that country – from the time when 6th century Chinese farmers reared ducks in cages with partially open floors positioned above a pond of finfish to the present day when a revolution in food security and sustainability is underway; one that is seeing growing numbers of Chinese middle-class consumers, concerned by food safety scares, turning to growing their own food via urban farming.

As the Chinese Government’s agenda to ensure China can continue to feed itself sustainably drives rapid changes towards high-technology agriculture, a new generation of youthful Chinese farmers, living in big cities, is learning about and embracing the ancient techniques of aquaponics – integrating and enhancing them with more modern, sophisticated growing methods and echnologies.

Still on the subject of learning, our story Resources for growing looks at how Canadian company Cravo has developed new online training and education resources for growers using retractable roof houses while, Home schooling hydroponics showcases the work of a respected South African professor and industry expert who has compiled an online compendium of his teachings in  hydroponics and greenhouse training over the past 26 years.

Most would agree that the concept of learning from the past is all about building on past lessons to create a better future. Yet in every field, once in a while, unexpected breakthroughs occur, which seemingly come ‘out of the blue’. One such example is demonstrated in our story Let the sunshine in, which outlines how scientists in Western Australia have invented a world-first clear, energy harvesting solar glass that holds the potential to be used in greenhouses to produce crops in any climate or season.

Keeping to the same theme of innovation, our book review looks at how a revolutionary new method of hydroponic growing using the ‘membrane meniscus method’ dispenses with growing medium, air or water pumps. It is claimed that by using this method, farmers can easily produce more than 600 spring onions, for example, in only one square metre. Advocates of the method say it has the potential to revolutionise the way growers see hobby and commercial crop production.

These and other interesting stories await your reading pleasure!

Enjoy this issue!

Christine Brown-Paul

PH&G March 2017 / Issue 177