Meeting February 2016

 

Our February meeting was a tour of Gateway Hydroponics farm in Coldstream, and we are are grateful to Tony for showing us around this amazing facility.

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Gateway Estate operates a 5000 square metre (1 ¼ acre) high tech hydroponic greenhouse to produce around 80 tons of high quality capsicums, 35,000 pots of basil and 7 tons of beautiful ripe red strawberries each year.

Employing the latest in Integrated Pest Management techniques and a zero waste closed loop irrigation system, the greenhouse can produce many times the yield of field crops using a fraction of the chemicals, sprays water and fertilizer.

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A capsicum leaf with showing dead aphid after attack by predatory wasps. The wasp lays an egg inside the aphid, where  the egg hatches and converts the aphid’s insides into a wasp nursery. The wasp larva uses the still-living aphid as a food source. what a cool way of dealing with aphids.

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The capsicums were grown a recirculating coco slab system and after the crop has finished, the coco media is reused for the strawberry growing pots. A big feature of the greenhouse was a pick your own strawberry area which means you can come and pick the fruit regardless of weather and you are guaranteed never to get mud on your shoes. The strawberries were planter 2-3 per pot with a dripper and placed in guttering to collect the nutrient solution for reuse.

The tour of the Gateway farm was enjoyed by the members who the meet up for coffee in the onsite cafe and produce store.

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