Every year, 20 to 40 percent of global crop yields are lost due to pests and diseases, according to the United Nations. Weather also is taking an increased toll on the world’s farmers.
Climate change is real on America’s farmlands. From increase heat that scorches crops, to torrential rains, to unpredictable cold-snaps, the nation’s farmers are in real trouble.
Constant rains are forcing some Ohio farmers to give up hopes of planting any corn, and wonder if they’ll have any crops at all this year.
Just one-third of Ohio’s corn crop had been planted as of early June. In a typical year, farmers in the state would have nearly all of their corn fields planted.
Soybean planting is also behind because of the wet weather.
The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation said this is the worst planting season since it started tracking planting progress in the 1970s.
It’s been especially bad in northwest Ohio, which is home to some of the most productive agriculture counties in the state.
“There are going to be a bunch of fields filled with weeds,” Ty Higgins, a farm bureau spokesman, said. “It’s going to change the entire landscape of the countryside of northwest Ohio.”
“There have been years we’ve had wet spells, but this has lingered on,” said 63-year-old Mark Bushman, who has a farm near Pemberville. “This is the worst I’ve experienced.”
Kris Swartz, another northwest Ohio farmer, said many farmers won’t be able afford another year like this one.
“I’ve been farming 36 years and this is the first year I may not have an acre of corn,” Swartz said.
Joe Logan, who leads the Ohio Farmers Union, said many farmers have decided not to plant corn and will now have to see if they can even get soybeans into the fields. “They’re exchanging seed as we speak,” Logan said.
Other parts of the country have their own ag-issues.
For most of his life, Dale Grossen has milked cows on the Wisconsin dairy farm his grandparents bought. But these days, the payoff for milking his 55 Holsteins, which he does largely by himself, isn’t what it was.
“The prices are so bad that it’s not even worth being a dairy farmer anymore,” he said.
Now, as many small family farms are struggling to survive, many farmers are trying out a new strategy: Growing in new, portable indoor farms, made from repurposed shipping containers. These fully insulated, food-grade shipping containers have been specifically modified to provide the optimum controlled environment for growing a wide range of agricultural products in all environments and climates. The system also eliminates the need for pesticides, chemicals or harmful additives.
Companies like Grow Pod Solutions and Micro Lab Farms offer sealed “micro-farms” that feature HVAC systems, efficient and adjustable lighting packages, humidity control, and air and water filtration – all with the ability to control the grow from a computer or cellphone. The systems deliver a higher yield with much greater consistency than traditional farming, making them an ideal adjunct to stressed-out farms or budding entrepreneurs.
These scalable indoor farms can produce a wide variety of organic foods.
Shannon Illingworth, Founder of Grow Pod Solutions, said that clean, contaminant-free food is the future of farming.
He got interested in urban farming when he was infected with E. coli after eating at a restaurant. Not knowing where the food came from, he decided to create a system where food could be grown in a clean environment and the origin could be traced with an app on your phone.
“What you see here today is the evolution of agriculture” he said about one of his company’s newest container farms. “Technology has made it possible for both new growers and existing farmers to cultivate a wide variety of clean crops, anywhere, in a year-round, modular, scalable system.”
Farmers in some states are using these cultivation systems to grow vegetables and herbs. Other farmers in cannabis-legal states (which is now 44 of the 50 states), are using the systems to grow hemp or cannabis, which are not only the fastest-growing industries in the U.S., but are growing at a statistical rate of growth that is unparalleled in U.S. history.
A license is needed to grow cannabis, which companies like Grow Pod Solutions can assist with by connecting the farmer to an existing licensed operation, or allowing them to grow under a Master License.
Hemp, which is the non-psychoactive cousin to cannabis, produces a crop that is suitable for a wide variety of purposes – from building materials, to fuels, to filling the rapidly growing need for CBD.
Back in the day, hemp was one of the most popular crops in America. Thomas Jefferson farmed hemp. Henry Ford made cars with hemp. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 contributed to a decline in its production by levying a tax on cannabis, including hemp, making it less lucrative to grow and trade. Then, in 1970, Congress classified all types of cannabis, including hemp, as Schedule I federally controlled substances.
Today, it is seeing a resurgence in popularity, and thanks to the recent Farm Bill, hemp is now legal (once again) in all 50 states.
United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “At a time when farm income is down and growers are struggling, industrial hemp is a bright spot of agriculture’s future.”
Recent reports expects the CBD market to hit $22 billion by 2022. Now, an emerging crop of young farmers are eagerly pursuing this green rush.
Self contained micro farms allow farmers to grow hemp (or anything else) to develop new revenue streams, and grow abundant crops regardless of the weather.
GrowPod is a modular, stackable and mobile vertical growing environment. Specifically engineered to maximize yield and automation. Offering fully insulated, food-grade shipping container that has been specifically modified to provide the optimum controlled environment for growing a wide range of horticultural and agricultural products in all environments and climates. With our combination of hydroponic and certified organic soil systems, you produce a significantly higher yield that grows faster, healthier and more consistent.
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