Posts Tagged ‘ hydroponic ’

Tassie Hydroponic Wasabi Grower Wins Produce Award

Tasmania’s Shima Wasabi have received a Delicious magazine 2011 Produce Award.

Founded in 2007 and now owned by two of the original four growers, Arandale Wasabi and Milton Farm, Shima Wasabi has become the largest provider of fresh Wasabi to restaurants, providores, retailers and wholesalers in Australia. As well as growing Wasabi naturally they have Australia’s only commercial hydroponic Wasabi crop.

We first encountered Arandale Wasabi in mid 2007 when they graciously allowed delegates of the AHGA Conference in Launceston Tasmania to visit.

Hearty congratulations to Stephen, Karen, Melina and staff for this prestigious award.

Cultilene hydroponic substrates now available in Australia

Cultilene, one of the leading mineral wool substrate manufacturers in the world, has expanded their range of substrate slabs. Now available in Australia, the unique and proven X-fibre technology has been improved, resulting in an even more advanced range of stonewool substrates. This expanded range of substrate slabs complements the already very successful range of plugs and blocks for propagation.

X-Fibre technology is unique to Cultilene through its parent company, the multi-national group Saint-Gobain. The unique ‘X-fibre structure’ has enabled Cultilene to design a range of slabs to have a water content range to suit climatic or control needs. Products include:

MaXXima: A very large water content control possibility for vegetative/generative balance.

EXXelent: A sophisticated slab, good on gutters or the floor.

OptimaXX: Previously known as ‘X-Fibre’, is already a very popular slab for all growing conditions and systems.

ReaXXion: The most re-active slab in the range for a fast response to changeable growing conditions.

For further information contact:
David Sobevski,
E.E. Muir & Sons Pty Ltd,
18 Raymond Road, Laverton Nth,
Victoria 3026, Australia
Ph: (03) 9931-2200
Fax: (03) 9931-2201

National Conference for Hydroponic and Greenhouse Growers

Protected Cropping Australia (PCA) is holding its biennial conference from 3 -6 July 2011 at the splendid Adelaide Convention Centre, the most environmentally responsible convention centre in Australia.

Formerly the Australian Hydroponic & Greenhouse Conference, this is the eleventh such national conference. In part, Adelaide has been chosen because it has the highest concentration of greenhouses in Australia and many growers are upgrading and expanding.

The conference starts on Sunday 3 July with the opening of the trade exhibition, which covers a wide range of industry trades, including greenhouses, irrigation and climate controllers, movable screens, seeds, fertilisers, chemicals, growing media, propagators, IPM specialists, etc. As well as Australian and New Zealand companies exhibiting, there are also quite a few from Holland. The exhibition remains open for delegates through Monday and Tuesday.

At the time of going to press there were a few of the 60 stands still available for sponsors and exhibitors.

Lectures and workshops are held all day Monday and Tuesday, presented by Australian and overseas experts, many of whom are international leaders in their field. Nearly 30 different presentations are on the program, so delegates can choose from a wide range of topics.

A highlight will be Dutch expert Ben van Onna introducing the impressive Simcom4 environmental control training package. Included will be updates of international developments in greenhouse and hydroponic technologies, biological control, IPM, etc. Following upon the great success of grower presentations at the previous conference, there will be many more presentations by growers giving their real world experiences.

Also covered are interesting newer areas such as aquaponics and organic hydroponics. New and intending growers are particularly welcome and consequently, the program includes a series of fundamental topics to give them all the basics.

On Wednesday, delegates have the option of going on an all-day farm tour, including a visit to the 17-hectare state-of-the-art d’VineRipe facility mentioned elsewhere in this issue.

Networking is a valuable aspect of these conferences, and there are many opportunities to meet other delegates. Lunch and tea breaks are long enough to maximise time with exhibitors, growers and experts. There are also great social functions, where the emphasis will be on networking. A welcome reception will be held on Sunday evening. The conference banquet dinner will be a fun night and has been moved to Monday, instead of Tuesday, so those delegates who can only leave the farm for a limited period can still attend.

For further information & registration contact:
Conference organisers:
Rick Donnan and Rosemary Viggers
Ph: (02) 4567-7960
Fax: (02) 8569-1064

Katunga Fresh

When it came to moving their family and hydroponic growing operation to Australia, native Hollanders Peter Van der Goor and his wife Marjan didn’t hesitate. Today the Van der Goors run Katunga Fresh, a succesful tomato growing operation in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley.

Maryborough Magic

The Hydroponic Farmers Federation growers’ meeting in Maryborough Victoria at the home of Alma Hydroponics. Run by farmer Ian Mortlock and his wife Wendy, Alma Hydroponics is an enterprise 10 years in the making and an exemplary hands-on hydroponics operation.

Tasman Bay Herbs

A quick look at Tasman Bay Herbs, one of New Zealand’s finest commercial hydroponic herb producers.

Murphy Fresh A Glass Act

From enough to “live on” to “a really good expansion”. Small growers can turn a profit alongside corporate growers and larger enterprises. Murphy Fresh, in the Victorian High Country, points the way for other small growers to build a successful commercial greenhouse business.

New hydroponic medium

Dunlop Foams launched a new hydroponic foam medium named ‘Up&Grow’ at the recent Hydroponic Farmers Federation conference held at Cranbourne, Victoria. Much interest was shown by growers and suppliers of hydroponic systems alike. Two Up&Grow foam grades have been developed by Dunlop Foams and were presented at the conference. The two grades provide for both lower and higher water absorption options.

Up&Grow is made from hydrophilic polyurethane foam developed specifically for the hydroponic industry. It is made in Australia and can be supplied in various shapes or sizes, hence can be tailor-made to suit individual needs. Up&Grow is manufactured to tight tolerances, which provides a highly consistent product.

The foam medium is a clean and green medium. It is a lightweight, highly absorbent material (absorbs up to 30 times its own weight) that has no itchy fibres or dust, and maintains its structure and shape. Due to its high internal surface area, it provides good air-filled porosity combined with excellent drainage. In addition, the foam is inert and sterile and has no effect on the pH or EC of nutrient solutions. Tests have also shown that Up&Grow has no leaching and is suitable for food contact.

One of Up&Grow’s biggest features is its environmental performance. After sterilisation, it can be re-used many times without degradation and can be recycled at the end of its life.

Trials have been undertaken by a number of growers with crops such as lettuce, tomatoes and a variety of herbs. Dunlop Foams is also undertaking further research with Chisholm Institute of TAFE at Cranbourne, Victoria, to provide growers with comparisons of Up&Grow with other media to aid in the smooth introduction of the new medium in established hydroponic systems.

For further details contact:
Dunlop Foams
Ph: 1300 55 22 00

Free grower workshops

The final series of free grower workshops for greenhouse and hydroponic vegetable growers have been set down for 14 and 15 September 2010 at Tahmoor, Riverstone and Kemps Creek, NSW.

These national workshops aim to provide growers with the skills to convert their current open systems (free drainage) to fully closed (recycled). The skills gained would deliver to greenhouse growers a saving of around $12,000 annually for a typical 4,000m2 system (i.e. $3,000 water and $12,000 fertiliser).

This project has received continuing excellent reviews from the completed workshops in Victoria, Tasmania, Coffs Harbour, Western Australia and Queensland. Most participants were surprised at the amount of extra greenhouse technical growing information supplied at these workshops, more than what they were expecting, and all felt that they would be able to implement this advice very easily into their own systems.

The free grower workshops consist of the following elements:
1. Hydroponic nutrient feed recipes for all identified vegetable crops
2. Recipes to cover the changing physiological stages for each crop
3. Root-zone nutrition targets for each vegetable crop
4. Adaption recipes to balance and control root-zone nutrition
5. Interpretation of laboratory drain analysis results
6. How to convert from open to closed systems by capture of drain water and reuse
7. Plant nutrition and nutrient management
8. Drain and freshwater sterilisation options and assessment (investment and annual running costs)
9. Demonstration of recycling equipment (blend valves and controllers)
10. Workbook and CD ROM containing automatic greenhouse nutrition software program.

This project has the capacity to save the protected cropping industry around $25 million annually and divert approx 5 gigalitres of water potentially impacting on the natural environment.

There is still an opportunity to attend the workshops in NSW. For further information contact Ross Wade (Horticulture Centre, GOTafe, Shepparton) on , or email

Issue 114: Rabbits, Rabbits, Everywhere Rabbits

September/October – 2010
Author: Sue Korevaar

Meat rabbit farming is one of Australia’s fastest growing new industries. While its size may not rival traditional meat industries, it is providing a useful source of income diversification for a number of people in regional and rural Australia. SUE KOREVAAR reports on the installation of a mini hydroponic fodder production system at Highthorpe Rabbits in Northern Tasmania, which has reduced feeding costs and increased production for this small producer.

Graeme and Shirley Harris of Highthorpe Rabbits in Northern Tasmania are counting rabbits in their sleep, literally. Six years ago, they started a commercial rabbit breeding operation, selling fresh rabbits to local butchers and restaurants as a part-time operation to supplement their income. The rabbits they breed are a special variety called New Zealand White Californians and the breed has been developed for commercial purposes.

Meat rabbit farming is one of Australia’s fastest growing new industries.

Graeme, a bushy for 35 years, had been breeding parrots and finches as a hobby, but the cost of feed made it a very expensive hobby, so he looked around for something else to do and maybe break even with the feeding costs. He decided that he could use the old bird sheds to breed rabbits and the rest is history.

Graeme Harris says demand for rabbits is outstripping supply.

At the 2009 AgFest Agricultural show in Northern Tasmania, Graeme visited the site of FodderTech, which sell commercial fodder growing systems for large and small scale operations. It didn’t take Graeme long after listening to Peter Doyle (inventor of the fodder growing system and part-owner of FodderTech) to work out that a mini system could be just what the doctor ordered with regard to increasing his rabbit population.

The mini fodder modules have been developed to suit the hobby farmer or person with smaller livestock quantities. This mini unit will produce approx 30kg per day.

The FodderTech System can convert 1kg of barley seed into 7-8 kg of fodder in a 7-day cycle. This unit produces approximately 20 kg per day of sprouts.

“The demand for our rabbits is outstripping supply, but the food costs are increasing too, so for us it is a balancing act between costs and making a profit from increased production,” says Graeme.

The long and the short of it was that Graeme ordered a small unit from FodderTech, which was delivered to his site just before Christmas 2009. He set up the unit in a section of his shed and started growing sprouted barley grain.

“I can’t believe it, I put the grain into the channels and 7 days later I take it out and feed it to the rabbits, it really is that simple,” says Graeme. “Sure, it is a bit of work, but the proof is in the pudding.”

Prior to installing the fodder system, Graeme was spending approximately $760 every 3 weeks for pellets. This was feeding approximately 50 – 60 does and their kids, together with maybe 60-70 young ones. He now spends around the same amount of money but he has increased his does to nearly 90 and doubled his young ones.

Housing is a critical issue for rabbit health.

The young kids are taken from the mothers at around 4 weeks of age and it takes another 8–10 weeks before they are ready to sell at around 1kg to 1.5kg dressed weight. The sell price is per kg, so the bigger the rabbits, the better the return. He would like to double his production and decrease the time it takes to get the rabbits to saleable size and he believes the fodder system is the answer.

Just born. Normally a doe will produce 8-10 kids.

One-week old. The young kids are taken from the mothers at around 4 weeks of age.

2.5-weeks old. It takes 8–10 weeks before they are ready to sell.

“It took only a couple of days for the does to get into eating the sprouts and now they can’t wait and they are looking for it every morning. I believe it will increase milk production and give the young ones a really good start.”

Recently, a mother on the fodder produced 15 babies, which has never happened before.

“This was a tough one, because a doe only has 8 teats, so we had to foster the others onto a couple of other mothers. Normally, a doe would produce 8-10 kids, so 15 was a bit of a shock.”

Currently, the mothers each receive approximately 200gms of sprouts per day together with good quality hay and pallets. Graeme keeps a breeding mother for approximately 1 year and she would have between 10–12 sets of babies. Graeme’s fodder system produces around 30 kg of sprouted barley per day and what is left over after feeding the does is given to the young ones in conjunction with dry feed. The green feed helps prevent scours in the young ones when they leave the mothers and go onto the hard feed. If not treated or prevented, the mortality rate from scours can be high.

Graeme and Shirley hope to be able to work their rabbit production facility full time in the near future, growing to just over 200 does to make it viable.

“I can see we are going to have to buy another fodder system before too long, probably the big one, but that’s ok, I’ll just make the shed bigger,” laughs Graeme.

Highthorpe Rabbits is in Northern Tasmania and you can contact Graeme on and FodderTech on or visit their website

About the author
Sue Korevaar was formerly a commercial hydroponic grower of tomatoes, capsicums, lettuce and herbs for the last 14 years and has been heavily involved with key hydroponic industry bodies for the last 10 years. From 2000 – 2007 Sue was President of the Hydroponic Farmers Federation (HFF). Today, Sue is General Manager of Foddertech, designer and manufacturer of commercial fodder productions systems. Email:

Website resources
Ardeng Rabbit Meat

American Rabbit Breeders Association

Fodder Technologies

Growtec Commercial Rabbit Farming in Australia

Farming meat rabbits in NSW—Primefact-104-final.pdf  Ω

September/October 2010 / Issue 114