Newsletter - February 2013

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Newsletter - February 2013
Hydroponic Farmers Federation Inc.
HYDROPONIC FARM
NEWSLETTER
A0033906W
HFF Executive
Committee
President:
John Elford
[email protected]
(03) 5341 7691
V. President & VFF
rep, Membership:
Tony Spurling [email protected]
u
(03) 9739 0568
Secretary
& Newsletter:
Tony Bundock
[email protected]
u.au
(03) 5990 7163
Treasurer:
Annie Hart
[email protected]
0477 675 666
Committee:
Peter Ross
[email protected]
(03) 5744 061
David Pearson
[email protected]
com.au
03 59526870
Ryan Brightwell
[email protected]
t.au
(03) 9756
6904
Ex-officio:
Graeme Smith [email protected]
ng.com
0427 339 009
Volume 1, Issue 37
March 2013
President’s Report
Over the last twelve
months,
which
have
passed so quickly, the HFF
committee has continued
its dedicated Volunteer
work for the grower
members and the industry. With our
continued focus on keeping all members
informed of latest topics etc. your
Committee have phone links on a regular basis at which many and varied topics that are raised with us are
discussed and ideas are
developed for
the benefit to the industry. Our news
letters are published on a regular basis
and thanks to Tony Bundock, we are all
kept informed with topical information
so that we are all better growers and
industry members. Just to recap on
2012, We started with our AGM, at
which concerns were raised as to
whether the HFF should continue, the
response was very positive and
therefore we have put things in place to
continue. The HFF Conference was very
successful, with survey results showing
we got most things right, a huge amount
of work goes into organizing this event
and it was pleasing to be involved in
another successful Conference. Support
for Turkhuu’s visit to Australia from
Mongolia was another highlight. The
idea of bringing someone from another
country to learn about Hydroponics in
Australia and then for Turkhuu to take
this knowledge home with him, really
got the Committee exited, and going
by the many discussions Turkhuu had at
the Conference it appears to have been
well worth while, we need to
congratulate David & Marika Pearson
for their initiative with this. Support for
Chisholm Students Study Tour of Europe
- again another initiative that the
committee was very keen to support
and we will learn more about the
outcomes at the up and coming AGM
where the Group of Students will be
giving us a presentation and their findings
from the trip. Aid for Peter and Annie Ross
- the committee was very pleased to be
able to support Peter and Annie after the
flooding in their area totally destroyed
their Crop and House, thankfully they are
back up and running now, but not without
many hurdles. All in all it was a very
proactive year for the Committee. 2013 is
promising to be a challenge for us, and
the HFF is seeking members input to
identify areas where as a group we can
assist one another. Our annual AGM is
planned to be held late March at
Chisholm and this will be an ideal
opportunity for Members to have their
say. I would like to strongly advise
members to have their say, the
committee will welcome any ideas, feedback so as to further improve the Hydroponic Farmers Federation. I am not in a
position to guarantee improvement within your business but what I can guarantee is the committee will make every
effort to provide the venues,
training
and networking options so that you the
members are better informed for your
business. We are always looking for motivated members to join the
committee, so please have a think about the
possibility of joining the committee to
assist Your Industry survive. I feel proud
of the committee members for their dedication, support and generosity with time
commitment and interest. Without this
commitment we would have failed long
ago. I also need to say thank you to the
Industry members for your support and
interest we are better growers
because of it. I look forward to the next
twelve months with confidence that the
industry will continue to grow and that
more growers will give active support to
the committee.
John Elford
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HY D R O P O NI C FA R M NE WS LE T T E R
V O LU M E 1 , I S S U E 3 7
The Secretary
It seems that 2013 has presented us
with a real Summer after a two year
absence.
Whilst many Victorians takes the
opportunity of enjoying the warm
weather by going to the beach or taking the boat out,
the same is not usually true for growers and their
supporting industries.
The current climatic conditions have seen many of us
having to work long hours as well as being involved in
an ongoing struggle to maintain suitable climates for
our crops. And for those of us that are in the CFA, we
have also had a high work load to make life just that
little bit more interesting. With many properties being
located in rural areas, the threat of grass and bushfires have been a reality this year. The President had
something of a scare recently when a fast moving
grass fire came very close to his property, and there
was a real threat of burning debris falling on to the
plastic roofs of his growing structures. Luckily for
John, the threat was averted but it just goes to show
how quickly things can impact on our businesses.
Within this newsletter you will see reference to new
and emerging technology such as ‘Applications’ that
can be used for crop production. The CFA also has really good ‘App’ called FireReady which you can obtain for free. This gives you real time warning of incidents and fires in your immediate location and certainly keeps you informed of potential risks to your
property and business.
The hot weather has also provided a good opportunity
for the Chisholm students to look at practically
implementing suitable strategies for utilising the
fogging system in our glasshouse to try and cool the
glasshouse as much as possible. This term the
Certificate 4 students have been looking at
manipulating the glasshouse environment to utilise
fogging as an effective evaporative cooling medium.
However, this is a double edged sword. It is certainly
possible to set up a climate where fogging can be
applied as soon as the glasshouse temperature reaches 26C . The fog can be applied to give a Relative Humidity level of around 60%. To gain an even higher
level of cooling, maximum humidity levels when
fogging can be raised to 75% and if the time between
fog applications is reduced to no minimum, you can
get some exceptional cooling effects. The graph
shown above was created on our Priva Integro climate
control computer in January, 2013, and shows both
the inside greenhouse temperature (purple line) and
the outside temperature (green line) achieved during
the day. Sunlight , and heating and ventilation strategy
values
are
also
shown
as
well.
On this day the inside temperature was a eventually a
staggering 12 degrees cooler than the outside
temperature. However, there is always a trade off and
the students have soon learnt that modifying the
climate in this way can come at a cost. The conditions
to give good cooling are also the perfect conditions to
bring the ‘old enemy’, that being Blossom End Rot
(BER) in a Tomato crop. So the students are now trying
to refine their settings to give the cooling effect but
also keep the humidity down. The end result being
that by allowing our students to experience first hand
the
issues that they will face in industry, we are
looking to develop graduates that are industry ‘job
ready’ and can serve the industry needs effectively.
You will have also received an e mail from me earlier
this year which advised you that I represented the HFF
at the recent industry feedback forums looking at a
voluntary code of practice for fertiliser storage. Graeme Smith has had a lot to do with this area in the past
in his role as ex PCA Chairman, and you will find a
more detailed report from both of us in this newsletter
outlining the outcomes and potential concerns that we
both have, especially as one of the fertilisers identified
in the report as an area of concern is Potassium
Nitrate. This is obviously a product that we don’t want
to see disappear from our supplies stores. The general
feeling at the meeting was that the emphasis was to
be placed more on regulating storage than removing
products from use, but the concern is that if life is
made to hard for the wholesale suppliers, then they
will not feel inclined to go the extra yard for the end
users—the growers.
Finally can I wish you all the best for the New Year and
I look forward to catching up with as many of you as I
can at the forthcoming AGM.
PAGE 3
HY D R O P O NI C FA R M NE WS LE T T E R
V O LU M E 1 , I S S U E 3 7
Polyethylene Hydroponic Greenhouse
Polyethylene Hydroponic Greenhouse
1200 square metre, twin-skinned Harford design polyethylene hydroponic greenhouse.
Producing Grape Kumato until July 2012.
Features:
• Fully automated fertigation, environmental control
and slab monitoring systems.
• 600 metres hanging gutters with dripper lines
• 660 metres heating rails
• 2500 drippers
• Twin gullwing vents
• Focus TMV Varme boiler with upgraded diaphragm
pump
• Inflation fan, stir fans
• Fully computerized – controller interface, internet
connection via dedicated router
• All necessary equipment – boiler pumps, irrigation
pumps, mixer pumps, sand filters, inline filters, nutrient
tanks, mixing tanks, crop trolleys, rail-mounted boom
sprayer Bonus:
• Additional 30 roof trusses – for greenhouse expansion
Productivity statistics are available.
Make us an offer.
Call: 0357752106
Mansfield, Victoria.
PAGE 4
HY D R O P O NI C FA R M NE WS LE T T E R
V O LU M E 1 , I S S U E 3 7
Greenhouse technology applications
With more people embracing the technology of the
modern style iPad / iPhone / android worlds, we are
now seeing a number of these applications being
released on to the market that are applicable to the
commercial greenhouse sector. And the good news is
that many of these ‘Apps’ are free. Many major
suppliers of Agricultural and Horticultural supplies and
services are seeing the benefit of having their products displayed via an App that can be easily accessed
anywhere in the world. Some Apps are little more that
convenient information sources, but are certainly an
aid to the grower. Bayer have a range of Apps that
allow you to track down
specific pests and diseases.
They have also produced Apps
that enable you to identify
specific weed species, and of
course the appropriate product to use to gain control of
your problem—no prizes for
guessing which brand the
recommendations are for.
Climate specialists Priva have also produced free Apps
that can be used in conjunction with their computer
programs such as PrivAssist
and Priva Fusion. The apps are
designed to allow you to enter
data relating to labour or pest
and diseases registration into
the App which in turn can
then upload to the Priva system. For this type of App you
obviously need the parent system, but there are plenty of
other options out there. As part of their European
Tour last year, four Chisholm Institute of TAFE students spent two weeks looking at technology in Holland and the UK. What they identified was that it is
possible to take existing Apps and convert them for
Horticultural use with limited time and effort. The students identified that some of the growers they were
visiting were performing their crop registration processes with the aid of a free auditing App. The app was
easily downloaded to their iPads and this has been a
since they returned to Australia. The App itself is now
developed and used on a weekly basis. Constructing
the App is a simple process and just requires you to
enter the categories of the data you want to record.
The App will firstly ask you to enter site data and dates.
Once you have entered the location data you are then
required to enter all of the crop measurements you
want to record via easy to use sliding bars or through
the keyboard.
PAGE 5
HY D R O P O NI C FA R M NE WS LE T T E R
V O LU M E 1 , I S S U E 3 7
Greenhouse technology applications
Once you have all of the data entered in the App, you
can then export this information directly to your
office or consultant. The App converts the
information to a concise PDF document that shows
the name of your establishment, times and locations
of the data sites, and all of the data in a neat
chronological order. The App also has the ability to
allow you to take individual photos of plants and
display them in the final document.
The App will be on display as part of the HFF AGM
meeting where you will be able to see this
technology first hand and also learn how to obtain a
copy for your own use. The students that helped
develop this App will also be on hand to answer any
questions you may have.
Graeme Smith Consulting have also released an App entitled the Greenhouse Growers Toolbox.
This app is intended to be an industry resource to meet the needs of growers, researchers,
hobbyists, trainers, retailers, suppliers, advisors, etc in the wider area of protected cropping.
This is the first release of an app from Graeme Smith Consulting and it is planned to continue to
make available additional calculators in the near future.
The complete App is a suite of 8 calculators that include;
1. Acid or Product Dosing - Calculate treatment PPM or volume (litres) of various products/acids
when added to water
2. Greenhouse Area & Volume - Calculate area (m²) or volume (m³) of greenhouse structures
3. Boiler Fuel Cost - Calculate and compare costs of various greenhouse boiler fuels ($ per GigaJoule of energy)
4. Dripper Timing and Volume - Calculate greenhouse irrigation flows, rates & volumes (media based dripper systems only)
5. Hydronic Boiler Calculations– Estimate minimum required greenhouse boiler size (in kW)
6. Irrigation Pump Capacity - Calculate required greenhouse irrigation pump capacity & maximum number of
solenoid valves (media based dripper systems only)
7. Irrigation Rate Targets—Calculate greenhouse irrigation volumes based on area, dripper rates and light sum,
and compare to actual irrigation volume delivered over the same period
8. Radiation & Light Unit - Compare and convert common light (radiation) units used in greenhouse horticulture
A free ‘Lite’ version is also available featuring 3 of the 8 calculators: (greenhouse volume & area, dripper timings
& volumes and acid/product dosing) Both apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store via iTunes and is
suitable for iPhone, iPad & iPod. (Android version to follow if demand exists)
PAGE 6
HY D R O P O NI C FA R M NE WS LE T T E R
V O LU M E 1 , I S S U E 3 7
Membership
I am pleased to report that the HFF Membership is currently running at 49 members.
22 of these members are currently financial, and this is made up of 11 growers and 11 industry
members. It is re-assuring to see renewals running so high. At this time last year the HFF only had 12
financial members, so we are certainly ahead. I hope this level of membership means that you, our
members think that in some way, the HFF are getting things right. Can I take this opportunity to give
a gentle reminder to those of you who still have to renew your membership to do so as soon as possible. The start of the year is always a busy time for all of us, but as an organization we obviously need to ensure
that we have a paid up membership.
Happy growing,
Tony Spurling. Membership secretary.
This is the first release of an app from Graeme Smith Consulting and it is planned to continue to make available
additional calculators in the near future. This app is intended to be an industry resource to meet the needs of
growers, researchers, hobbyists, trainers, retailers, suppliers, advisors, etc in the wider area of protected
cropping. The complete App is a suite of 8 calculators that include;
Acid or Product Dosing - Calculate treatment PPM or volume (litres) of various products/acids when added to
water
Greenhouse Area & Volume - Calculate area (m²) or volume (m³) of greenhouse structures
Boiler Fuel Cost - Calculate and compare costs of various greenhouse boiler fuels ($ per GigaJoule of energy)
Dripper Timing and Volume - Calculate greenhouse irrigation flows, rates & volumes (media based dripper
systems only)
Hydronic Boiler Calculations– Estimate minimum required greenhouse boiler size (in kW)
Irrigation Pump Capacity - Calculate required greenhouse irrigation pump capacity & maximum number of
solenoid valves (media based dripper systems only)
Irrigation Rate Targets—Calculate greenhouse irrigation volumes based on area, dripper rates and light sum, and
compare to actual irrigation volume delivered over the same period
Radiation & Light Unit - Compare and convert common light (radiation) units used in greenhouse horticulture
A free ‘Lite’ version is also available featuring 3 of the 8 calculators: (greenhouse volume & area, dripper timings &
volumes and acid/product dosing) Both apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store via iTunes and is
suitable for iPhone, iPad & iPod. (Android version to follow if demand exists)
For more information visit www.graemesmithconsulting.com
PAGE 7
HY D R O P O NI C FA R M NE WS LE T T E R
V O LU M E 1 , I S S U E 3 7
Voluntary Code of Practice concern
The Australian government is developing a ‘National
Code of Practice for Chemicals of Security Concern’
This code of practice suggests key steps to take to
reduce the risk of terrorists acquiring chemicals
from Australian businesses which can then be used
for terrorist attacks. However, it is important to
remember that the code of practice is voluntary;
businesses are encouraged to assess risk, and if
necessary, take action to reduce it.
Industry will recall some years ago following the Bali
Bombings, that a range of chemicals were identified
to be
subject to the introduction of the ‘High
Consequence Dangerous Goods legislation’, which
required a grower to obtain a licence to purchase,
transport, store and use. The main chemical
identified at the time that was of main concern to us
was ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3), as this product
was used to control pH drift in hydroponic systems.
Approx 95% of NH4NO3 used in Australia is used as
explosives in the mining industry therefore it was
not surprising that this product was targeted.
Industry quickly found replacement products (liquid
NH4NO3 and mono ammonium phosphate MAP to
name a few), therefore the ultimate affect was
comparatively negligible, however the main lesson
was that supply quickly dried up due to the red tape
and compliance costs and it became easier for
companies to avoid handling this product
altogether. This new voluntary code of practice
encourages businesses to self-assess their individual
level of risk.
Given the many different uses for chemicals, and the
unique circumstances faced by each business in the
supply chain, they consider that individual
businesses are best placed to identify and prevent
the theft or diversion of chemicals from their
workplace. Once businesses have assessed the level
of risk particular to their circumstances, the code
suggests action that can be taken to reduce risk. This
includes simple steps such as making improvements
to site security, and other options like employee and
contractor checking and inventory controls.
By giving discretion to businesses to self-assess and
take steps to reduce security risks, businesses
can play their part to detect and prevent dangerous
chemicals being used for terrorist purposes. No
business wants to be identified as the source of
chemicals that were used in a terrorist attack.
A list of approx 90 chemicals have been identified
under this new code with the main products used
in the protected cropping industry being:
Nitric Acid (commonly used for pH correction)
Potassium Nitrate (a key ingredient in all fertiliser recipes)
Hydrogen Peroxide (commonly used for sterilisation)
Whilst these products are not currently being
targeted to be subject to ‘High Consequence
Dangerous Goods legislation’, past lessons have
shown that if it becomes difficult for suppliers to
stock these products then they may elect to opt out.
Especially in the case of potassium nitrate, which is
the most important fertiliser in hydroponics, there is
no substitute. Hence running out of stock due to
supply difficulties would force a grower to cease
production
This would be catastrophic for industry as at the very
least prices would rise considerably and supply line
could quickly dry up resulting in protected cropping
businesses shutting down overnight.
The PCA and HFF will both be making submissions on
behalf of industry and also advises all growers to
log
onto:
http://www.chemicalsecurity.gov.au/
PublicConsultation/Pages/default.aspx to register
your interest in the draft process, and where suitable
advise them of the importance of maintaining access
to critical industry chemicals.
This link will also make available to you a range of
PDF’s with full details on the draft code. We have
asked a representative of this process to join us for
the HFF AGM where hopefully we can gain some
more first hand news on these developments.
PAGE 8
HY D R O P O NI C FA R M NE WS LE T T E R
Accredited training for the
Hydroponic Industry
V O LU M E 1 , I S S U E 3 7