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Low Impact Methods in Agriculture

Contemporary farming has taken many new forms over the past several decades, moving farmers further and further away from the land and soil, and more towards metal and plastic infrastructure in climate and light controlled greenhouses and buildings. Hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics are a few new techniques utilized to circumvent classic farming hazards and issues including weather, pest interference, and growing area restrictions.

These innovations and innovations in field growing have enabled farmers to produce record-breaking yields over the last century with a drastically reduced labour cost. With any new innovation, specifically innovation in food production, questions are raised as to what the benefit or risks are for these new techniques. Although these new indoor techniques increase per square footage production, eliminate pests, control climates, and produce quicker yields, the sources of the nutrients are in question. In organic farming the source of the nutrient is often derived from a living organism or naturally occurring minerals, making the source of your nutrition vital, complete, and diverse.

Here are a few techniques the Lettuce farm team has been experimenting with in the past months:

Farmscapes:

Berms– mounded or rounded growing surfaces creates more surface area for planting and establishing crops and controls water flow and absorption.

Soil cover– covering the soil with organic materials like leaves, mulched wood, hay or straw, or a living cover crop prevents evaporation in the hot seasons which can lead to nutrient fertility loss and root damage in freezing conditions in the cool seasons.

No-till and root banding fertilization– This practice allows microbiology to establish a dense network of life that locks nutrients into the soil. Instead of tilling large swaths of land that expose some nutrients to evaporation and microbiology to deadly temperatures and oxygen, dig start holes twice as deep to allow root penetration, then return loosened soil to the hole, enriched with organic fertilizer.

 

Indoor Farming Techniques:

Hydroponics– A nutrient-rich liquid, that replaces the soil as the medium for growth, is constantly or intermittently cycled over the root zone.

Aquaponics– Similar to hydroponics, but the nutrient input is created by a living organism, most commonly fish.

Aeroponics– An offshoot of hydroponics, where the nutrient-rich liquid is sprayed or misted over the exposed roots.

Aeroponics Tower Farm– A cylindrical tower, designed to increase production capacity in a smaller footprint.

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