Home' Grower : June 2011 Contents The South Australian Grower -- June 2011
focuses on effective
By KAYE FERGUSON, senior research
THIS is an update (Issue 2:
Hydroponic conversion project) on a
research project (Febr uary, 2011)
aimed at helping greenhouse vegetable
growers who want to convert from soil
growing to hydroponics.
The project will highlight the key factors
for a successful transition to hydroponics
and also examine the cost effectiveness of
Hydroponic demonstration sites have
been set up on three commercial
During the past two years, tomato and
cucumber crops have been grown at the
sites, crop health data has been collected
and comparisons made between crops
grown in soil and hydroponics.
Demonstration sites --
Site 1: Virginia, South Australia, one block
of 10 glass houses and one block of 10
plastic houses was converted to
• Bore water (EC 2.3mS) primary water
• 6m3 dam built to store rain water
collected from greenhouses.
• Two gutter types trialed.
• Growing tomatoes and cucumbers.
• Higher yields in hydroponic crops.
Initially run to waste, the system was
converted to a closed system after the first
crop. Sumps collect r un-off from each
block of greenhouses.
An ultrafiltration machine was installed
to remove pathogens from run-off water
before it was used again for irrigation.
Rain-water was used to supplement bore
water but not enough was collected to last
Site 2: At Murray Bridge, three blocks of
two glasshouses were converted to
• Mains water primary water source.
• Growing speciality tomato varieties.
• Higher yield in less time than soil-grown
• Crop is grown longer so less down time.
• Some failed set in trusses because of
The hydroponically-grown crops have
recovered better from lost fruit set than
the soil-grown crops because heads are still
on. Run-off water from irrigation is
captured and used on the home garden
(which is spectacular!).
Site 3: At Virginia, one block of eight
glasshouses was converted to hydroponics.
• Bore water main water source (EC
• Growing cucumbers.
• First crop not yet complete.
At this site, a different system is being
trialled to collect run-off from irrigations.
A trench was dug under each row, lined
with plastic and then laid with agpipe.
The run-off from slabs drains through
weed mat into the agpipe and out to
a sump and is pumped to a holding
Site 1 -- Plastic gutter on ground
Site 2 -- Metal gutter on bricks
Site 1 -- Cucumbers
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