Advances in Farming: Netting and its Implications for Organic Farming
Sam Kedem, Hastings, MN
While visiting in Israel you notice peculiar phenomenon in the landscape, all around: swaths of farmland with permanent net structures in all directions & altitudes. What started as a way to protect crops from weather-related events over 20 years ago, has advanced both in scope & magnitude, to include multiple aspects: mitigation of weather extremes, pest management, water & nutrient conservation, higher productivity & improved quality.
Recent research focuses on manipulation of specific wavelengths for enhanced production.
It’s hard to overstate the advantages that this revolutionary concept lends to organic producers: significant reduction in nutrients, protection from vertebrates, invertebrates & diseases, air & water pollution, and elevated productivity. As important, it lessens the dependency on outsourcing produce for communities, thereby reducing the carbon footprint and increasing the diversity of crops (netted high tunnels). Current research focuses on light manipulation for improving production in specific crops (i.e. fruit, nursery, cut flowers, annual & permanent crops).
Israeli farmers & related industries are notoriously adept at new technologies in farming, working alongside scientists to push the envelope in research & applicability. Much of the research is performed on commercial plots & transferred to growers summarily. This way of cooperation is decades old, as exemplified in the adaptation of water conservation via drip irrigation in the 60’s & hydroponic systems in the 70’s. As the proverbial saying goes: ‘Necessity is mother of invention’ (innovation).
Those advances are apparent on displays at groceries & street vendors around the country: high quality, abundant produce & flowers, available year round, at lower prices compared to same commodities in US, despite land scarcity & high price of water.
The budding technology, as well as further research, is catching up in other parts of the world, especially southern Europe & Australia. It is destined to establish elsewhere, including the USA, hopefully sooner than later. However, adaptation to various environments & climates is necessary.