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.

The conference and exhibition will focus on how innovative technologies can be used to grow more food (and a wider variety of food) using less resources, and how adverse environmental impacts can be minimised… all in the context of arid and semi-arid climates. Conference and exhibition organisers are working with The Khalifa Fund, the Abu Dhabi Farmers’ Services Centre and others to make sure that the kind of technology required by UAE farmers wishing to transition from traditional to high-tech agriculture is present at the GFIA event.

This conference and exhibition is a great opportunity for Australian businesses to showcase their modern growing technologies. While it’s true many growers worldwide have adopted Dutch growing technology, there have been many Australian innovations developed for our hot climate. Despite the vast land area and small population, Australia is a leader in warm climate hydroponics and protected cropping, and has much to offer UAE farmers making the transition to modern growing techniques. If Australian agri-business wants to interact more closely with its regional neighbours, then the GFIA is an open invitation to connect directly with UAE farmers.

The UAE program will apply to agricultural land of up to 2,000 square metres, with water not exceeding a salinity of 500 ppm. The Khalifa Fund will finance applicants who fulfill all conditions, with an interest-free loan of up to Dhs1m (US275,000). The agricultural program pioneered by the Khalifa Fund is the first of its kind in the country, and is expected to provide comprehensive solutions and financing for the agricultural sector.

Since Practical Hydroponics & Greenhouses went live in March 2013 as a digital-only magazine, our registered subscriber numbers have soared. With subscribers from Russia to Antartica, from Rwanda to the Carribean, most have missed many informative articles that we have published over more than two decades, before digital technology made its appearance. Around half of all subscribers are Australian, with many newcomers to the industry since our first issue in 1991. With many requests for articles published before the digital revolution, it seems appropriate to republish some of our evergreen articles. In this issue we commence our ‘Evergreen Series’ with an introduction to the Bromelaid family, a water-tanking plant ideal for dry and arid enviroments. The complete collection of PH&G articles from 1991 to 2012 is available on a single DVD —see page 44.

In this issue we also report on the inaugural Australian Garden Show Sydney, which featured hydroponics, aquaponics, vertical gardens, hanging gardens and greenwalls, and we visit a a family-run farming business on Norfolk Island producing hydroponic and soil-grown vegetables for locals and island visitors. Enjoy!   Ω

Steven Carruthers

October 2013 / Issue 136