13 July 2015

Lettuces growing in a hydroponic greenhouse The University of South Australia’s Barbara Hardy Institute and the Vietnamese Farmers’ Association of South Australia are staging an important forum to explore new ideas for a sustainable and productive future for the state’s Northern Adelaide Plains. 

The forum will be held on July 17 from 9.30 am to 1 pm at UniSA’s Mawson Lakes campus. 

UniSA adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Dr Jonathan Sobels says the half-day forum will provide an important opportunity to consider some of the dynamics of change in the Northern Adelaide Plains and their impact on horticulture, industry, the environment and the wider community. 

“We’re delighted to be staging the forum in partnership with the Vietnamese Farmers’ Association that represents so many of the individuals and businesses dependent on the future planning of this region for their livelihoods,” Dr Sobels says. 

“Our line-up of speakers will explore some important insights and includes an overview of State Government plans and approaches to planning for the region from the Member for Taylor, Leesa Vlahos." 

Dr Sobels says a presentation from Paul Rasmussen of Sundrop Farms will explore the high potential for the application of leading edge, large-scale solar technologies adjacent to the City of Adelaide. 

An innovator in sustainable horticulture in arid zones, Sundrop Farms signed a deal with Coles in 2014 to establish a 20-hectare greenhouse at Port Augusta for the production of hydroponic tomatoes using desalinated water and solar energy. 

Dr Sobels says the solar distillation model is now a proven application for hydroponic vegetable production through treatment of wastewater and seawater. 

“The de-commissioning of the Dry Creek Saltfields opens up a space for new thinking on regional water supply and treatment of Bolivar wastes and the technologies employed by Sundrop could be a good fit for the Northern Adelaide Plains," he says. 

“The combination of exciting new technologies with increasing capital being injected into the operations of experienced local horticultural producers could be a winning one for SA food production.” 

The seminar will also feature information on the Vietnamese farmers’ story in Virginia and on the ways in which future progress is dependent on integrative governance as a partnership of community and government. 

More information is available on 0428 313 840. 

Media contact: Michèle Nardelli office: +61 8 8302 0966 mobile: 0418 823 673 email: michele.nardelli@unisa.edu.au


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