Home' Grower : September 2012 Contents The South Australian Grower -- September 2012
The hydroponic sector at Virginia has not been
well promoted despite the fact it offers significant
potential benefits in the form of large and secure
supply of quality fresh produce, labour demand,
tourism, educational training and substantial
income that supports the local economy.
Construction of a modern hydroponic glasshouse on Penfield Road Virginia.
Photo: Trevor Linke
Hydroponics offers food
By TREVOR LINKE
HYDROPONIC food production is one of
the world's fastest-growing agricultural
Hydroponic glasshouses are highly efficient food
production systems -- they can produce about 60
kilograms to 75kg of food units a square metre,
compared to 3-5kg/m2 for soil glasshouse systems.
They are highly efficient users of natural
resources, especially water. The table (right)
highlights that hydroponic crops use only 600 litres
of water to produce $100 worth of output, far
ahead of the other sectors
The world's population is expanding rapidly and
will be about 9.3 billion in 2050.
In countries such as Vietnam and Bangladesh,
food security issues will be a major concern unless
production systems can increase output using
existing natural resources.
The relevance of all this for Virginia -- NAP?
The Virginia-NAP hydroponic sector is the
largest in South Australia and a major supplier of
produce for the eastern seaboard markets.
The expansion of markets has enabled rapid
development of large-scale corporate businesses and
increased scale for many of the smaller enterprises
on the NAP.
But, if the industry sector is to capture the
expanding opportunities of domestic markets and
export trade, there are some challenges to meet.
Hydroponic growers within Virginia and NAP
• Work together as an industry sector. This can
provide both structure and direction for a
growth plan in this sector.
• Appreciate the importance of working
cooperatively to ensure production volumes meet
the large-scale supply requirements of
increasingly large international food companies
that buy, sort, pack and distribute food.
An increasing trend for smaller hydroponic
growers is their lack of ability to compete in the
• Develop individual business plans in alignment
with a sector growth plan. Growers should move
away from way of life operations and more
toward optimally developed, professionally run
These utilise modern technologies to ensure
increased efficiencies, lower unit costs and the
ability to use natural resources sustainably.
For example, the re-use of treated RO water that
not only improves water-use efficiencies but
limits negative environmental impacts.
There is a need to:
• Appreciate the ever increasing need that educated
buyers demand low chemical input produce.
• Create industry leadership that can promote to
various government agencies and councils the
advantages of supporting and working with this
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