A HYDROPONICS SEMINAR IN FRANCE Noucetta Kehdi - GHE

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A HYDROPONICS SEMINAR IN FRANCE Noucetta Kehdi - GHE

A HYDROPONICS SEMINAR IN FRANCE

Noucetta Kehdi - GHE

When we decided to invite UK shop-owners to a seminar in France last November it seemed like a good

idea. But then, while getting ready, all kinds of questions started to rise: shall we be ready on time? Will the

lodging be satisfactory? Will the group be cool and friendly? Etc, etc, : a non-ending list of unanswered

questions. Then it was April 24th. Here they were! And from the moment we picked them up at Blagnac,

(Toulouse airport) until we drove them back to board their plane and fly back home, it was a succession of

excellent moments, in learning, and in partying.

I wanted this seminar to combine pleasure and “education”. Of course

I intended it to be a visit to GHE, with a training on hydropnics and our

products, and an introduction to organic hydroponics or «bioponics». At

the same time I wanted my hosts to relax, enjoy, and discover the beautiful

landscapes and excellent gastronomy of this beautiful countryside, which

is the Gers, in the South West of France.

To accommodate my group I chose two very nice 4 stars B & B in the midst

of our lusciously green and hilly countryside. For 2 days everybody lived

under the “French way of life”. Nice and healthy lunch breaks at noon, and

a typically traditional dinner at night. The first night we went to a secluded

restaurant, known only to artists and the “happy few”. The next day we

went to a quite famous restaurant called “La Table des Cordeliers”, situated

in an old 13th century chapel, where we ate a delicious dinner under

beautiful gothic stone arcades, and next to … Terry Wogan… whom we

discovered dining 2 tables behind us!

The seminar took place on Tuesday all day and Wednesday am, three sessions

in all. It was conducted by William Texier, our greenhouse manager, senior chemist, and head of R & D

since more than 20 years. William is extremely knowledgeable in hydroponics and plant nutrition. He learned

his chemistry from Dr. Cal Herrmann, chief chemist at the Water Purification Department at NASA for 13 years.

Furthermore he is the inventor of bioponics, and as such he could tell you anything you want to know about

it and its astonishing way of operating.

Talks and discussions were conducted on all subjects: our

nutrients and systems, hydroponics in general and bioponics.

Product presentation, questions and answers, punctuated

the sessions and the hall often resonated with laughter.

To my opinion 3 main topics were most informative: disease

prevention, pH regulation, and bioponics.

Disease prevention:

In our line you can find products that are preventives. They

protect from disease and insects. But for the shop owner

these products are not always easy to sell because the end

customer doesn’t necessarily recognize the actual effect

of the product. Indeed, if you use prevention, plants don’t

get sick, and there is not much to see. But for those growers

who try prevention, when they compare with their past crops, they realize the benefits of applying it on a

constant basis. This is one of the most efficient methods to keep your plants healthy: it is thus recommended

to encourage preventive products and help customers avoid pest

infestation, root fungi, and other problematic and costly infections.

pH regulation:

pH regulation is an important parameter in plant nutrition. In bioponics

the gardener leaves his pH to drift as high as 7.0 before interfering.

As William pointed out, it is scientifically recognized that plants

can live in a range of pH between 4.5 and 7.0. So you don’t need to

keep adjusting your levels. Adding constant acids, especially if they

are not top quality, may end up being more damaging than helpful.

If it is generally recommended to stay in the range of 5.5 to 6.5, it is

to guarantee best assimilation of mineral salts by the plant, and to

protect the chelates incorporated in all good quality nutrients.

To Ebbe Thiery describing a situation when his pH suddenly fell from

6.2 to 5.0, while all parameters looked perfectly normal the prece-


dent day, William said that this doesn’t frequently happen and is

not directly related to the plant’s nutrition. Generally the pH would

tend to go up rather than down. When it falls, it is often due to

the sudden and massive death of living organisms colonizing the

solution (all kinds of bacteria, harmless, beneficial or pathogenic,

can colonize your nutritive solution). There is not much to do in this

event, just adjust your pH, or change solution. If the problem persists

identify the problem and treat it.

Bioponics:

Organic hydroponics is quite particular in the sense that, although

it is hydropnics, it is doesn’t function exactly the same way: for

instance, you feed the plant on a daily rather than on a weekly

cycle, your EC meter reads only part of the salts included in your nutritive solution, and your plants aren’t

as green as when they grow with mineral nutrients. You can read more about bioponic feeding and EC on

www.eurohydro.com under Bioponics, and you can contact us if you need more clarification, we will be

happy to help you.

But I would like to comment on the last aspect: plant leaves aren’t as green as they would be when grown

with a mineral nutrient. Indeed, bioponics is founded on one of the basic principles of sustainable organic

agriculture, which consists in giving little quantities of nitrate to the plant in order to increase flowering and

fruiting rather than producing abundant, but useless vegetative growth. As we now know, although nitrate

is essential for a healthy plant growth, too much of it is useless, and detrimental for our already very polluted

underground and river waters.

Finally it is important to know, especially for the shop owner, that a bioponic nutrient is generally exhaustive,

liquid and readily available to plants. It is perfectly adapted to «fertigation» (contraction of fertilisation and

irrigation) and drip irrigation, a practical improvement which represents a huge leap forward for all types of

organic farming, from the small family vegetable gardens to the larger commercial crops (allowing them to

simply pour their plant food directly in a reservoir and irrigate, instead of carrying endless bags of heavy, smelly,

and long to dissolve powders of blood, horn, feathers, etc) - a new and welcome market diversification …

In between sessions we visited the greenhouse (although it wasn’t

finished building completely) and talked about the different applications

for hydroponics, and projects that are very important to

us and could be generalized in the near future, giving even more

openings to our industry:

s Research is made to commercially grow high cash crops like

physalis peruvianus for instance, a plant which is very much in demand

in hotels and restaurants, and still quite scarce in our countries.

s Under the sponsorship of the Conseil Général du Gers, we are

starting a series of medium size tests growing medicinal plants to

produce herb teas for companies already interested in buying

them. The test will be conducted hydroponically and bioponically

on chamomile, sage, and two varieties of mints. If it is successful, we

will be looking to extend the production to other small-scale commercial growers and start developing new

and highly viable hydroponic companies, a project we have been working on for a few years now.

s A few months ago, a French scientist contacted us. He had patented the way to extract the active principles

of plants from the nutritive solution in which they are living - without harvesting them. He calls it “milking”

plants. It seems that the AeroFlo is the perfect tool for it. First tests have been particularly successful, and

a medium size operation is starting in a couple of weeks: another interesting application of hydroponics in

the realm of medicinal plants production.

The seminar went by very fast. Everybody returned safely home

and the next few days we received a series of happy emails

from all participants, which Dave Suffolk from Progrow summed

perfectly:

“Many thanks for a terrific few days! I had a wonderful time. I

think I speak for us all when I say I found the trip to be interesting,

helpful and relaxing all at the same time!” Thank you Dave, this is

exactly what I was aiming at. And thanks to the whole group, a

mix of different people who hardly knew each other and were

competitors on a highly competitive market, but still were open,

communicative and friendly. Next year we will organise a new

seminar. If interested, don’t hesitate to contact us at info@eurohydro.com


The group (standing from left to right):

Ryl from Growell, Jason from Ponics, Greg from CC.com, Phil

from Rootzone, Anelise from Hydroponics of Denmark, William

from GHE, Nikki from Holland Hydroponics, David from Progrow,

Ebbe from Hydroponics of Denmark, Ben from Green’s, and

Justin from Growell.

Sitting: Noucetta from GHE

Anelise and Ebbe Thiery are our Danish distributors

from Hydroponics of Denmark, . When they heard

about this seminar they asked to join in, and I

invited them to come, of course. They blended perfectly

in the group and had lots of fun. Unfortunately

we missed Matthew Douglas from Tigerlily, John

Baxter from Growin, and Kinh Nguyen from Forever

Green, who, for different reasons, couldn’t make it. I

hope that they will come next time, and we will try

to find a space for them with the next groups.

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