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
Grapes
February 17, 2017
Washington Organization Rebrands Itself
Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers unveils new identity at convention, now known as Washington Winegrowers Association. Read More
Registration area at the 2017 Florida Blueberry Growers Association Spring Meeting
Berries
February 17, 2017
Florida Blueberry Growers Counting on a Comeback
With last season's disaster in the rear view, all eyes are searching for bluer skies. Read More
Agras MG-1 agriculture drone
Equipment
February 17, 2017
Wanted: Tech Innovators for Drone Challenge
Land O'Lakes Prize offers up $150,000 to help make drones more useable for farmers Read More
Fruits
February 17, 2017
Are Drones the Future of Pollination?
Researchers in Japan have turned drones into robot bees as artificial pollinators. Read More
Fruits
February 16, 2017
New App Helps Fruit Growers Calculate Chill Hours
App helps growers calculate chill hours based on locations and models and assess physiological needs of fruit crops. Read More
Brussels Sprout on a fork
Citrus
February 16, 2017
Food Trends Driving Growth Opportunities for Florida Farmers
More niche markets emerging for growers to give consumers what they want and need. Read More
Farm Management
February 14, 2017
Californians Holding Breath as More Storms Loom
Nearly 200,000 people evacuated below nation’s tallest dam; even growers have had enough for now. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
February 17, 2017
How Precision Agriculture Is Helping Far…
New Florida-based organization is seeking to break down barriers between farmers and shoppers by providing a platform to not only show what is grown, but how it's grown. Read More
Equipment
February 17, 2017
Wanted: Tech Innovators for Drone Challe…
Land O'Lakes Prize offers up $150,000 to help make drones more useable for farmers Read More
Fruits
February 17, 2017
Are Drones the Future of Pollination?
Researchers in Japan have turned drones into robot bees as artificial pollinators. Read More
Fruits
February 16, 2017
New App Helps Fruit Growers Calculate Ch…
App helps growers calculate chill hours based on locations and models and assess physiological needs of fruit crops. Read More
Citrus
February 16, 2017
Food Trends Driving Growth Opportunities…
More niche markets emerging for growers to give consumers what they want and need. Read More
Farm Management
February 14, 2017
Californians Holding Breath as More Stor…
Nearly 200,000 people evacuated below nation’s tallest dam; even growers have had enough for now. Read More
Fruits
February 10, 2017
Immigration Enforcement Warning Issued b…
Association advises members to prepare for Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in wake of Trump’s executive order. Read More
Fruits
February 6, 2017
Organic Trade Association Rallies Suppor…
Group is encouraging consumers to tell USDA they support an organic research and promotion program. Read More
Citrus
February 5, 2017
New Product Helps Bees Brush Off Mites
A British company developed Bee Gym, distributed by Vita Ltd. Read More
Fruits
February 4, 2017
Pests, Diseases in Organic Growing the t…
Biology, ecology of organic production the focus of two-day event. Read More
Citrus
February 2, 2017
Florida Seeking to Fete More Eco-Innovat…
Nominations open for the Commissioner’s Agricultural-Environmental Award. Read More
Citrus
January 30, 2017
List of Best College Farms Released
Website evaluated farms on sustainability factors, community programming, and courses available at the university or college farm, not just in the classroom. Read More
Fruits
January 30, 2017
Avoid Technology at Your Peril [Opinion]
Like it or not, technology is going to have a dramatic effect on fruit growing over the next few years. Read More
Fruits
January 29, 2017
Hold the Labels, Please [Opinion]
Companies who point out the absence of GMOs can hurt may hurt the produce industry as a whole. Read More
Crop Protection
January 27, 2017
New Foliar-Applied Dual Mode Insecticide…
Cormoran, released by Adama USA, helps protect apples, pears, and other specialty crops, will target egg and larva stage of pests. Read More
Fruits
January 26, 2017
Fruit Breeding Industry Giant Passes Awa…
James N. Moore, who established the fruit breeding program at the University of Arkansas more than a half-century ago, was 85. Read More
Food Safety
January 26, 2017
Crop Advisers Should Help Growers with …
Crop advisers need to step up to the plate and help growers comply with Food Safety Modernization Act – especially onerous ag water mandates. Read More
Citrus
January 25, 2017
Ban Lifted on USDA News Releases
Acting USDA deputy administrator says the practice is typical with new administration changes. Read More