Agri Kultuur March/ Maart 2016 - Page 11

Ben van der Spuy and Gail Beresford standing in front of their solar driven Nutrient Film Technique hydroponic system and pH management system that operate on a diluted solution principle eliminating the risk of overdosing and minimizing the risk of error. The simplicity of the design plus training provided after installation makes it possible for clients with minimal hydroponic or agricultural experience to grow plants with relative ease. A Net house design was purposely done for this installation. The net house provides better ventilation for healthy plant growth. Heat management is the major concern in hydroponic installations in South Africa. Infrared radiation from the sun can be filtered through the dual-colour knitted net that provides cooler conditions for the plants. Plants are exposed to dew. Dew plays a vital role in maintaining leaf moisture. The floor was purposely sloped at 1 degree for proper drainage during rainy days. This minimizes the risk of high humidity conditions that causes fungus to spore, one of the major drawbacks of plastic covered greenhouses. Net houses are generally more cost effective than greenhouses in both installation capital and maintenance cost. The idea around the net house is to only protect for what protection is really required for. The major risks identified in this installation Tomatoes grown in the solar driven NFT Trellis Crop System were hale, birds, insects and heat. The goal was to protect the plants against those risks. The number of commercial farmers in South Africa has been drastically declining during the last number of years. Current food prices are an indication that South Africa’s food security is at risk. It is imperative that we consider these kinds of interventions seriously to fill up food shortages. Well done to Ben and Gail for taking the first step towards a better, greener and more food secure future! South Africa and all our neighbouring countries need more people like you! Leafy crops also grow extremely well in the Grow Machines NFT Trellis Crop System