Australian farmers World Leaders in Soil-less farms

Trying to grow more while using fewer resources.

Australian farmers are becoming more and more resourceful. According to Ausveg almost 30 percent of all Australian farmers are growing produce in some form of soil-less culture system.
Farmers are drawn to the efficiency of protected cropping. Chairman of the Protected Cropping Australia, Robert Hayes explains:

It's the best way to use your water. We don't waste any fertiliser at all, there's zero discharge effectively into the environment, and we can have a much better control of our quality, we are in business 52 weeks of the year.

The Australian Industry has been excelling. According to Hydroponic herb farmer Don farmer from New Zealand.

I've seen a huge change in the uptake of technology here, back in 2003 New Zealand was way ahead of Australia, and not only has Australia caught up, they've absolutely surpassed us, incredibly so. Australia now has some of the best growers in the world.

But Mr Grant believes that Australia’s climate is why they’re excelling, and is confident that the temperature gives Australia and advantage over other countries.

With the cold, you've got to heat a hell of a lot more so your costs go up; you've got a nice temperate clime here, so it's a lot easier to produce.

Greenhouse farms hold a lot of potential. Protected cropping could provide more certainty for producers and their workers. Folco Faber from Apex Greenhouses explains:

When you're growing in a protected environment you can grow 12 months of the year, so you're not susceptible to climate, to extreme weather events, it's a more consistent supply for the supermarkets and more consistent employment for people as well.

Perhaps the biggest problem for the Industry is the use and cost of energy. Last year South Australia experienced large power outages leaving the state without power for days. The loss of power hurt those in the power-reliant protected cropping industry. Faber explains:

They suffered considerable losses due to that energy shortage, there's also several growers I know of who are heating with gas, and their prices have doubled in the last 12 months. At the end of the day, surety of energy supply and pricing is a really important component of our industry.

 

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