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Fed: Climate change not an issue for hydroponics, industry says

Wed Jul 22 18:41:58 EST 2009

CANBERRA, July 22 AAP - The hydroponic horticultural industry says it's facing a bright future despite the dismal outlook for the environment because of climate change.

More than 300 hydroponics growers and experts from overseas have been in Sydney for the past three days at the industry's annual conference, to hear of ways growers can improve yields and deal with issues from global warming to dealing with pest control.

Hydroponics is the production of crops without soil but can involve the use of other material to grow vegetation.

Crops are grown either in greenhouses or outdoors and nutrients are often recycled for use with other crops.

The nation's peak body for growers, the Australian Hydroponic and Greenhouse Association (AHGA), says the industry was worth more than $1 billion at the farm gate and employed more than 10,000 people.

Rick Donnan from Growool Horticultural systems, a member of AHGA, told AAP the industry had faced some recent challenges, including skyrocketing fertiliser prices.

Minimising nutrient waste and the environmental side effects, and keeping crop temperatures down in hot conditions were also issues for growers.

"It's more difficult to do that than to warm in cold conditions," he said.

Despite some challenges, a universal consensus was that the future for the hydroponic and protected cropping industries remained very strong, Mr Donnan said.

"The more that climate change regulation comes in then the more advantages that there are in protected cropping and in hydroponics.

"Climate change will be providing more incentive for (the industry) to continue to grow," he said.