By TONY BUNDOCK, PCA Deputy Chair
Protected Cropping Australia and the Hydroponic Farmers Federation (HFF), recently partnered with Chisholm Institute of TAFE, De Ruiter Seeds and Signify to present a Grower Innovation Day.
Over 75 delegates came together at Chisholm’s Cranbourne Campus, which is also home to the National Precision Growing Centre and research glasshouse.
The morning sessions were dedicated to presentations by a number of key industry players. Ben Hoodless of De Ruiter informed the group of the latest developments in tomato variety development, whilst New Zealand grower Roelf Schroeder of Gourmet Mokai, gave some great insight as to how he is using Philips lights to enhance production on his long-term tomato crop.
In relation to looking at emerging technologies, Patrick Duffy of E Agri explained how his company is embracing the concept of vertical farming and also informed everyone about the establishment of a purpose-built R&D facility at Chisholm’s Cranbourne Campus.
PCA Director Marcus van Heijst of Priva gave an insightful presentation on ‘What is your licence to grow?’ which challenged the concept of how worldwide food supplies will be sustainable in 2050 by only using current technologies.
To round off the presentations, Paul Konig of Chisholm led a session seeking answers as to how to satisfy the ongoing training needs of the wider horticultural industry.
Lunch was sponsored by De Ruiter which saw the delegates having the option of gourmet burgers or pizzas prepared on site by external caterers in their high-end food trucks.
The afternoon sessions were run as three separate events with delegates rotating around the topics.
Signify presented on technical aspects of LED lighting, De Ruiter showcased their variety trials in the greenhouse, and E Agri gave further detail on the their vertical varming R&D site and involvement in a potential Cooperative Research Centre grant program with Western Sydney University.
The day concluded at 3 pm and provided all delegates with a great knowledge capture and networking event.
Danny Trandos of Trandos Hydroponic Growers came all the way from Western Australia and said it “was absolutely fantastic and very well supported which was good to see”.
John Elford, HFF President remarked ‘Grower days are key events that we provide for our members. The Chisholm Grower Innovation Day allowed the HFF to provide a great day for the members in collaboration with Chisholm and PCA. The content was informative and topical, and we were delighted with the format and running of the day.”
Tony Bundock, PCA Deputy Chair said “In 2018 PCA has been actively working to provide a program of greenhouse tours across Australia for our members. The Grower Innovation Day with HFF and Chisholm was a great success on all fronts”.
“The content of the day had a great appeal to the industry, and along with our Victorian members, we saw PCA members traveling from WA, QLD, NSW, SA just to attend this event.
The blend of highly relevant technical content and practical observation was ideal and provided a wealth of information for all that attended. An excellent event.’