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
non-gmo label leafy greens
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Report Says GMOs Offer No Risk To Human Health
The study stresses the need for proper resistance management, the need for a different ways to evaluate all new crop varieties, regardless of process in which they were developed. Read More
Florida Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam checks out prepared school lunches. School meals are looking more colorful these days as fresh produce finds a place on the tray.
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Full-Time Effort Required To Feed Farm-To-School Programs
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam gives a shout-out to those providing fuel to kids during the school year as well as the summer months. Read More
Photo credit: USDA
Citrus
May 23, 2016
World Health Organization Experts: Glyphosate Not Carcinogenic
Risk unlikely when consuming crops treated with herbicide. Read More
Food safety meeting for growers in Florida
Citrus
May 23, 2016
Florida Growers Putting Food Safety On Front Burner
Specialty crop industry stakeholders hungry to understand what’s ahead as FDA begins implementing new food safety rules. Read More
South Florida farmland
Citrus
May 20, 2016
Florida Farmland Becoming Big Deal For Institutional Investors
Real estate values in the Sunshine State dictated by money looking for a home. Read More
close-up of a merge ahead traffic sign
Citrus
May 19, 2016
Bayer Makes Bid For Monsanto
Monsanto says proposal is being reviewed by board of directors as well as legal and financial advisors. Read More
Purple sage (Salvia dorrii) (Photo credit: Flickr user Five Acre Geographic)
Disease Control
May 19, 2016
Native Plants Reduce Need For Vineyard Water, Pesticide Usage
Scientists in eastern Washington are finding drought-tolerant alternatives to roses at the end of vineyard rows that not only save Read More
The Latest
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Social Media Posts On GMOs Falling Flat …
Hopefully, the hysteria the West has perpetuated on genetic engineering will not stifle the potential of moving our production forward enough to help feed a growing global population. Read More
Fruits
May 24, 2016
Organic Food Sales Hit Record $43.3 Bill…
Organic Trade Association says organic fruits and vegetables logged sales of $14.4 billion. Read More
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Report Says GMOs Offer No Risk To Human …
The study stresses the need for proper resistance management, the need for a different ways to evaluate all new crop varieties, regardless of process in which they were developed. Read More
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Full-Time Effort Required To Feed Farm-T…
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam gives a shout-out to those providing fuel to kids during the school year as well as the summer months. Read More
Citrus
May 23, 2016
World Health Organization Experts: Glyph…
Risk unlikely when consuming crops treated with herbicide. Read More
Citrus
May 23, 2016
Florida Growers Putting Food Safety On F…
Specialty crop industry stakeholders hungry to understand what’s ahead as FDA begins implementing new food safety rules. Read More
Citrus
May 20, 2016
Florida Farmland Becoming Big Deal For I…
Real estate values in the Sunshine State dictated by money looking for a home. Read More
Citrus
May 19, 2016
Bayer Makes Bid For Monsanto
Monsanto says proposal is being reviewed by board of directors as well as legal and financial advisors. Read More
Citrus
May 17, 2016
$130 Million In Funds For Fruit And Vege…
USDA allocates funds for Extension, organic production, food safety, and technology grants. Read More
Citrus
May 17, 2016
Border Protection Intercepts New Leafhop…
First of its kind found in European shipment. Read More
Farm Management
May 17, 2016
Issues With Processing Plant May Be Culp…
FDA inspection finds unfavorable conditions at CRF Frozen Foods’ plant in Washington. Read More
Farm Management
May 16, 2016
USDA Provides Risk Management Tool For G…
Whole Farm Revenue Protection offers coverage for diversified specialty crop growers. Read More
Citrus
May 16, 2016
3 New Herbicides For Florida Farmers To …
Trio of unique crop protection chemistries beckoning growers to whack weeds with these. Read More
Fertilizer
May 13, 2016
Northeast Ag Sales To Distribute Agro-K …
Partnership to all New England states enhanced access to full line of foliar plant nutrition and soil biological items. Read More
Fruits
May 12, 2016
Study: Climate Change Putting Sting On N…
Analysis of record-breaking 2010 cold spell yields hot leads about chilling effect on tropical bees in South Florida. Read More
Farm Management
May 10, 2016
Record High Temperatures Cause Major Run…
New snow melt records achieved during April. Read More
Fruits
May 10, 2016
California Governor Signs Executive Orde…
Rule updates existing requirements for agriculture water management plans. Read More
Citrus
May 10, 2016
Survey: Beekeepers Lost 44% Of Bees Last…
Responses indicate summer losses rival winter losses for second year in a row. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]