Home' Grower : Dec 2010-Jan 2011 Contents The South Australian Grower -- December 2010/January 2011
By JAMIE-LEE OLDFIELD
LY Hydroponics is tr ying to
change the negative
perceptions of growing
vegetables hydroponically by
doing what it does best --
producing high-quality tomatoes.
Hieu Ly was set to study a
prestigious engineering course
interstate when his father Nghia
asked him to return to the family
farm four years ago.
With the incentive to be his
own boss, Hieu went home to
the farm and hasn't looked back,
deciding to convert the in-soil
farm to hydroponics.
He now has 7000 square
metres of greenhouses filled to
the brim with Truss tomato
plants, producing 21,000
kilograms a week all year round.
Hieu says hydroponics takes all
the guesswork out of growing
"We used to have to guess when
to plant to ensure a good price,
while now we plant and sell all
year round. We also get an average
price over the year. The market
isn't a lottery any more," he said.
Hydroponics also allows
growers to determine exactly
what the plant needs, because
every aspect is monitored by
sensors and logged into
"People think hydroponics is all
about chemicals, but it is actually
just putting plants into a controlled
environment and monitoring them
so they can be given exactly what
they need," Hieu said.
"Growing is a lot different than
it used to be, even from five years
ago -- it is more like data analysis
rather than just growing these
"This means less waste as the
plants never get more then they
need -- it is a very efficient way of
The Lys have both medium-
technology and high-technology
greenhouses, with the aim of
converting to all high-tech in the
The high-tech greenhouses
have been built in the past year
and are a dutch design, Hieu
discovered them on a research
"When travelling in Holland, I
noticed they only had this one
type of greenhouse, so when I
returned I knew we had to build
that kind," he said.
"Our site alone is good for
marketing our tomatoes, and
hydroponics in general. Lots of
people come to view our set-up
and realise we have to be doing
Hieu says it is a satisfiying
industry to be in, to be able to be
a part of the entire process of
producing something, and then
to walk into a supermarket and
see it being sold.
"You get to see the results of
every decision you make --
everything you do to the plant
will be visible in the tomatoes
you har vest," he said.
"Growing these days is about
quality, not just yields -- you have
to find the fine balance between
Hydroponic methods take
guesswork out of growing
being built in SA
Young farmers need help to
get into agriculture
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