Opinion: Don’t Get Left Out – Make Room For Protected Agriculture

Paul RusnakMan, I love the smell of orange blossoms in the morning. Come to think of it, the symmetry and shimmer of beds that comprise a strawberry field is quite a sight. And you know, the sound of the breeze through a field of sweet corn can be downright peaceful. It’s these types of tangibles that subconsciously connect the general public to agriculture. And though already ingrained, similar stimuli drive farmers, too. Being in tune with the earth is a powerful thing. You’re outdoor people. But, what if the familiarity of open field farming were to disappear? In some ways, that has happened thanks to urban development. In other ways, the landscape is transforming with the addition of row after row of molded pieces of plastic, steel, and glass. Protected agriculture is popping up more and more around the Sunshine State — and for good reason.

Structured Success

Many moons have passed since it was commonplace for Northerners to dream about buying a piece of Florida swampland and turning it into a gold mine via farming. Not to say that many of today’s local farming operations don’t have Yankee roots, but times have changed. The world has gotten much smaller in terms of distribution. Produce is being grown year-round in parts of the world sporting much harsher climates compared to Florida. Our competitive set is growing rapidly, and protected agriculture is a large part of that expansion.

In a recent poll question posted on GrowingProduce.com, we asked: Why do you use high tunnels? The choices were: extend the growing season; climate control; pest management; or all the above. By far, “all the above” was the choice of readers. With seemingly so many advantages going for it, shouldn’t more growers be on board? Well, I know cost is a huge cause for concern.

Practicality is another. Some crops just aren’t cut out for indoor duty. Though I recall a distinguished panel of the state’s tomato growers speaking during the 2010 Florida Ag Expo. The consensus among the panel was that protected structures for Florida tomatoes weren’t a good fit, and never would be. Recent completed construction projects (some involving those same growers) prove otherwise.

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Farming continues to evolve, and Alto Straughn has been witness to much transformation throughout his industry involvement (50+ years, btw). He’s also spearheaded change, too. This month’s cover story subject (page 8) is considered a trailblazer when it comes to the state’s bodacious blueberry industry. Beyond breakthroughs in finding suitable varieties and optimal growing media, Straughn saw the potential high tunnels had to offer. Turns out, he has nothing to hide, but much to protect. His farm boasts more than 80 acres of blueberries under cover. Now that’s impressive — and smart.

For the sake of improving production, fostering research, and growing market share, more stakeholders need to re-examine the big picture. The perspective is always better from the inside looking out opposed to being on the outside looking in.

Topics: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fruits Stories
U.S. Capitol Building FEATURE
Citrus
September 26, 2016
Presidential Candidates Comment On Agricultural Issues
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump weigh in on a number of topics of concern to growers. Read More
'Rave' is a cross between 'Honeycrisp' and an unreleased variety called ‘MonArk.' 'Rave' was bred by the University of Minnesota and will be grown and sold exclusively by Stemilt in the U.S. (Photo credit: Stemilt)
Apples & Pears
September 26, 2016
New Apple Variety Is One Stemilt Hopes Consumers Will ‘Rave’ About
University of Minnesota apple variety will be grown and packed exclusively by Stemilt. Read More
David Wiemann explains how the Scott Henry training system controls vigor with four canes instead of two. (Photo credit: Christina Herrick)
Grapes
September 26, 2016
Where Site And Growing System Meet In The Vineyard
Vineyard manager uses growing systems to control vigor of winegrape varieties. Read More
A reddish “halo” surrounds the point of scale attachment on the fruit, under the skin.  (Photo credit: Art Agnello)
Fruits
September 26, 2016
San Jose Scale Is An Old Pest That Is A New Threat To Apple Growers
Growers see increase in infestations due to changes in chemical control programs. Read More
embark cider works new york hard cider
Farm Marketing
September 25, 2016
New York Governor Signs Additional Legislation To Bolster State’s Craft Beverage Industry
Bills allow farm wineries, breweries, and cideries to sell New York-made farm beverages by the glass. Read More
cracked earth
Farm Management
September 24, 2016
Water Woes Continue In Northeast
Hydrologist says this year’s conditions are bad but are part of a typical water cycle. Read More
Spring Valley Farms blueberries near Umatilla, FL
Berries
September 24, 2016
Time Is Now For Florida Blueberry Growers To Dig In
Coming off a challenging season, industry players must continue to adapt to curveballs thrown by Mother Nature and market forces. Read More
The Latest
Fruits
September 27, 2016
Focusing On Phenomics In Specialty Crops
It’s not just the nature of your crops — the genomics — it’s also how they are nurtured. Read More
Fruits
September 27, 2016
Rodale Institute Launches An Organic Far…
A new national organization for organic growers is designed to provide advocacy, the latest research and education, and information-sharing among farmers. Read More
Farm Management
September 27, 2016
Politicians May Be Taking Ag For Granted…
Growers have become masters at ensuring a steady food supply, but warning, politicians: Ignore them at your peril. Read More
Citrus
September 26, 2016
Presidential Candidates Comment On Agric…
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump weigh in on a number of topics of concern to growers. Read More
Fruits
September 26, 2016
San Jose Scale Is An Old Pest That Is A …
Growers see increase in infestations due to changes in chemical control programs. Read More
Farm Marketing
September 25, 2016
New York Governor Signs Additional Legis…
Bills allow farm wineries, breweries, and cideries to sell New York-made farm beverages by the glass. Read More
Farm Management
September 24, 2016
Water Woes Continue In Northeast
Hydrologist says this year’s conditions are bad but are part of a typical water cycle. Read More
Fruits
September 23, 2016
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Pressure Incr…
Scout and monitor your orchard to determine if control is needed, says Penn State University Extension. Read More
Citrus
September 22, 2016
Senate Committee Report Says WOTUS Refor…
A report issued from the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee says federal agencies overreach their authority to regulate Read More
Citrus
September 20, 2016
Preventative Control Rules Now In Effect…
Facilities employing 500 or more people must meet new standards. Read More
Citrus
September 20, 2016
EPA Says Glyphosate Not Likely To Cause …
Paper says herbicide not carcinogenic at doses relevant for human health risk assessment. Read More
Farm Management
September 20, 2016
Study Says Produce Imports Good For Texa…
Imports from Mexico would add jobs in the Lone Star State. Read More
Crop Protection
September 19, 2016
Grant Awarded To Rutgers To Study Pollin…
Scientist in the school of Environmental and Biological Sciences receives $2.9 million grant to research bees and other pollinators. Read More
Apple Grower of the Year
September 19, 2016
2016 USApple Conference: Promising Crop,…
Wenatchee, WA grower honored; only blemish on apple crop is the drought that shrank the harvest in the Northeast. Read More
Business Planning
September 19, 2016
American Agricultural Exports Could Feel…
Despite headwinds, the U.S. remains the most stable economy in the world. Read More
Citrus
September 17, 2016
August Was The Hottest In 136 Years
The extended heat wave continues a streak of 11 consecutive months of record-setting temperatures. Read More
Florida Ag Expo
September 16, 2016
2016 Florida Ag Expo To Tackle Productio…
Exotic whitefly, biocontrols, and alternative crops top industry event’s agenda. Read More
Fruits
September 16, 2016
U.S. Farm Productivity Approaching Peril…
Investments in research and Extension required to stay ahead of the competition. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]