Strawberries Hydroponics as an alternative
Methyl bromide use on soil grown strawberries
In traditional soil-based, commercial production of strawberries, the soil is typically fumigated with methyl bromide before planting. The fumigation process is intended to control certain soil-borne pests, weeds and diseases. It's also believed that the fumigation process will lead to a higher yield and better fruit quality.
The pending ban on methyl bromide
There are a few problems, however, associated with the use of methyl bromide. Under The Montreal Protocol of 1991, methyl bromide is defined as a chemical that contributes to the destruction of Earths' ozone layer. In an attempt to help reduce the depletion of the ozone layer, the manufacturing and importation of methyl bromide will be phased out in developed countries over a 16 year period, starting from 1999 and will be banned completely in 2015.
The impact of the ban and phasing out of methyl bromide
Because of the phasing out and eventual ban on methyl bromide, strawberry cultivators need to find an alternative to growing in soil based applications. It's estimated that banning methyl bromide will have a hugh impact on the amount of strawberries produced in California and Florida - Top strawberry producing States in the US.
Another problem is that there is no known or available fumigant, chemical or other technology that can take the place of bromide in efficacy, ease of use, availability, safety to workers, low cost and environmental safety (below the ozone layer). According to research conducted by the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), multiple alternative control measures will be required to replace many important uses of methyl bromide.
Finding an alternative -- hydroponics
Many growers are already turing to hydroponics as their new method for growing strawberries. Hydroponics is an ideal alternative because it eliminate the use of methyl bromide. Since hydroponics is a soilless growing technique, soil-borne pests are not a problem, therefore, methyl bromide is not required.
Growing strawberries using hydroponics can reduce space requirements, growing time needed to produce the crop, eliminate certain pests (soil-borne) and weed problems. Preparation time may also be reduced because tillage is not required (soil-based application only). Pesticides and insecticides usage is also reduced because biological control measures work better in controlled environment of a greenhouse or indoor garden.
In indoor or greenhouse gardening, environmental factors are not a problem because lighting, temperature, humidity and irrigation can be controlled and nutrients can be recycled, saving money.
Hydroponics also reduces the cost and increase the efficiency of labor than field-grown strawberries. In soil-based applications, back-aching labor is required to bend and pick the low blooming strawberry fruits.
The initial setup costs to build a hydroponics strawberry farm can be expensive, however, growers may recovery that initial expense by produce strawberries of a higher value, yield and spend less on pest and disease control and nutrients.
Article provided courtesy of HydroponicSearch.com - The Hydroponics Strawberry Search Engine.