Two young Chilean agronomists, one of them having worked in Falkland Islands Stanley Growers, are setting up a similar hydroponics business in Puerto Natales with the purpose of providing fresh vegetables to Punta Arenas and in the near future to the cruise industry.
La Prensa Austral reports that Rodrigo Maureira from the University of Magallanes worked some time for Stanley Growers where he acquired the expertise and experience of the business which has been thriving in the Falklands for almost two decades. His partner in the company is Hector Guerra another young agronomist from Magallanes University. A system of long tables with nutrient rich running water or with special inert soil packs protected from the ground helps to successfully grow vegetables, flowers, medicinal plants under controlled temperature and humidity conditions in areas where extreme weather limits production to a few summer weeks. According to La Prensa Austral the two Chilean agronomists have set up the farm in Puerto Natales where they are developing the hydroponics system or recirculation nutritional film better known as Nutrient Film Technique in a polyethylene green house; a system which was developed in England in the sixties by the Glasshouse Crop Research Institute. "Our business target is to adapt the NFT system to grow high quality vegetables in good sanitary conditions all year round which should improve the regional supply of fresh produce", explained Maureira. Apparently the Puerto Natales greenhouse is already producing several types of lettuce which are sold in Punta Arenas to supermarkets, hotels and tourism linked retailers, particularly the green salad bowl and the red salad bowl. Maureira and Guerra hope to keep the greenhouses producing all winter long and are already planning for next year's season when they will begin growing cucumbers, tomatoes, egg plants and red and green peppers. La Prensa Austral concludes the piece saying both agronomists are most satisfied with what they have achieved so far. Stanley Growers which pioneered hydroponics in the Falkland Islands and is a regular provider of fresh produce to the Islands and the cruise industry is managed by Tim Miller.