[Market-farming] Are Organic Hydroponic Greenhouses Environmentally Sustainable
tradingpost at gilanet.com
Tue Dec 13 12:01:53 EST 2005
The typical hydroponic greenhouse is a monoculture where no disease or pests can be allowed to get started. Yet it doesn't get the benefit of soil microorganisms that produce natural antibiotics and enzymes that repel pests or minimise the plant smell that attracts them. Growers have no alternative but to drench hydroponic plants in fungicides and pesticides. This also makes them high maintenance and labor intensive. A more sustainable alternative is humus- intensive beds, and they can be in a greenhouse that opens in mild weather or just outdoors with some form of weather protection. Humus-intensive has long been demonstrated to be the way to grow the most and healthiest produce in the least space with the least water and least ongoing energy input.
paul, tradingpost at riseup.net
The outstanding scientific discovery of the twentieth century is not television, or radio, but rather the complexity of the land organism. Only those who know the most about it can appreciate how little we know about it.
- Aldo Leopold in Round River, 1933
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On 12/13/2005 at 9:43 AM road's end farm wrote:
>There's been debate in the organic community as to whether there is
>such a thing as "organic hydroponic". That is, you can probably design
>a hydroponic system using only materials that are acceptable for use in
>organic production; but the original heart of organic agriculture, from
>which it takes its name, is that it's based on keeping a healthy soil
>through proper organic matter content in the soil. Can a system with no
>field and no soil anywhere in the process actually be organic? I don't
>know whether anybody is currently certifying hydroponic systems. You
>can certainly certify a greenhouse, with either bed or bench systems
>(soil in ground, or in pots).
>Having said that: whether the hydroponic system would be more
>sustainable than other alternatives for feeding the neighborhood is a
>different question, which it seems to me needs a case-by-case analysis.
>If the neighborhood is in any climate with a winter, adding some sort
>of greenhouse to the system seems likely to do less damage than
>shipping similar food in from long distances (though this might vary
>with the crop and with the growing and shipping systems. I think Eliot
>Coleman may have worked some of this out.) What is the advantage of
>hydroponic over standard greenhouse in this specific circumstance?
>-- Rivka; Finger Lakes NY, Zone 5 mostly
>Fresh-market organic produce, small scale
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