Agriculture has never been as unstable as it is at the moment. Businesses are struggling with the economics of achieving measurable crop yields. Whether it be the ecological instability or the economics behind agriculture, many businesses are seeing lower margins on their crop. Increasing in frequency is the amount of land that is being rendered insufficient for growth, and the scary part is, this problem hasn’t always been an issue, we have grown everything from vegetables to grass on this soil for more than 15,000 years.
Agriculture is becoming a low margin industry, with higher input costs and restricting government policies, it may soon be left to big business farmers with technological advantages. Farmers are finding that greenhouse technology and various other growth methods are allowing them to sustainably profit with less overhead.
Hydroponics- The method of growing plants using mineral solutions instead of soil. Hydroponics when executed correctly can provide superior crop yields on less space. In fact many “urban farmers” are beginning to grow crops in their small urban spaces.
See Below: Image credit (Case Cose)
Whether you are a simple “window farmer” or a big business looking to maximize ROI, hydroponics can save you on water usage. Using as little as 1/20th the amount of water as regular crops, hydroponics maximizes farming margins by allowing flexibility in measuring the consequences to land.
In addition to simply vertical windows, “vertical green” is now popping up. The green walls from vertical green are found mostly in urban environments to reduce the temperature of the building. The notion behind it is, wall plants reduce solar radiation absorption of the building, lowering the temperature and providing a function solution to urban agriculture. Plus, they look really cool!
For urban agriculture, vertical green and hydroponics are great but for farmers there are alternative solutions to increase crop yield on soil. According Green Technologies, a company that provides functional plant growth solutions, “completely biodegradable and environmentally safe technologies aren’t a wave of the future.” A product from Green Technologies called HydroFlakes, mixes with your soil to hold up to 60% more water, “100 liter bag when mixed at 30% with soil in a will give enough for 166 plants in a 2 liter pot.”
There are thousands of growth solutions but some agriculture businesses are finding that simply measuring their soil’s PH level gives them insight in to growth inefficiencies. According to a study by the Oregon State University, “If you have not determined your soil pH in the last three years, this will be a good time to do so using any method available to you. If you find that the results are not within the range of the crops you would like to grow next year, have the soil tested in the lab early so you can make amendments/additions necessary to ensure better medium for crop growth.”
Looking for alternative methods to fertilizer doesn’t have to be expensive. Regardless if you are a farmer or a landscaper, organic and environmentally friendly solutions are available for you. All it takes is a leap of faith.
A social entrepreneur and writer on all things green, Matt Krautstrunk focuses on topics ranging from small business strategy to pos systems for Resource Nation.