Job Roskam, Brinkman:

"Australia home to a greenhouse industry with plenty of opportunities"

Despite being one of the largest countries in the world, Australia is home to a very tight-knit greenhouse community. Every two years, the professionals meet during a special 3 ½ day conference organized by peak industry body Protected Cropping Australia. This year the event will be held in Adelaide from 9 to 12th July.

Dutch horticultural supply company Royal Brinkman and Australian greenhouse supplier Apex are the two namegivers of the 2017 PCA Conference. Job Roskam of Brinkman Australia said that his company is a proud partner of the event. "This is the only event that brings together a unique selection of representatives from both the small and larger hydroponic greenhouse companies in Australia. They all come to Adelaide to catch up with their industry friends and learn about the latest trends and techniques."

Roskam explained that Australia is home to a well-established greenhouse industry with plenty of opportunities. "Especially on the food production side. There are about seven large greenhouse tomato growers who have a combined acreage of about 150 hectares. They are serving the growing demand from retailers for year-round supply of high quality produce. As a result of this, open field production decreases and is being replaced by protected cultivation."

Even though these larger growers are expanding every now then, the market is not saturated yet. "The situation has opened the doors for other crops such as bell peppers and berries. Open field crops are also facing many quality and supply problems, which also offers opportunities for greenhouse production. Next to this, there are also smaller local growers who are into undercover cultivation of lettuce and herbs, to serve nearby markets."

In order to learn more about these opportunities and developments, between 400 and 500 delegates are expected in July at the Adelaide Convention Centre. Besides a trade show exhibition with more than 60 booths, organizer PCA has put together a very interesting two-day speaker program to address important topics and challenges that the Australian growers are currently facing.

One of them is the cost of labour and the steps that growers can take to manage the cost of labour in their operations. Roskam: "Labour costs have seen huge increases over the last years, and growers need to maximize the efficiency of their workers in order to stay competitive. There is a lot of room for improvement and smart automation solutions such as labour management and packing systems. This is an important issue to address in order to prepare the Australian industry for the future."

Other hot topics will discuss the management of crop diseases and pest pressure. Also in Australia, the risk for devastating crop diseases are a thorn in the side of many growers. Invited crop protection specialists will give updates and consultancy on tackling problems with the help of integrated pest management. Furthermore, specialists from various suppliers and institutes will share their knowledge on the application of new yield boosting and production optimizing technologies.

Also several growers will be speaking to present their case studies on new crops and production techniques. A day after the conference, delegates will also have a chance to tour several nearby commercial hydroponic greenhouses as part of a special onsite farm tour organized by the PCA.

More information on registration and exhibiting can be found at the conference website:

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