How to Maximize Productivity Without Using a Grow Box
Grow Boxes Are Innovative, But Come With Limitations
We have all seen the recent articles popping up the past few years about precision agriculture maximizing productivity. The most interesting of these innovations, in my opinion, is the Grow Box. A Grow Box allows for a large amount of production to happen in a condensed setting. Even though these Grow Boxes are highly innovative, they do have limitations. We also know that they are expensive and have restrictions as to what users can produce. These factors make Grow Boxes impractical for most farmers.
So how can farmers compete with these new innovations? There are two strategies that farmers can quickly and easily use in traditional agriculture to maximize the productivity of a field. These are: co- planting and rotational planting.
Co- Planting: Increase your yields per field
Co-planting is an easy strategy farmers use to increase field productivity. Co-planting involves planting mutually beneficial crops in the same plot. Interestingly, the practice goes back to the time of the Native Americans, who planted beans and corn together.
These strategies can transfer benefits to modern day crop operations! The many benefits of co-planting, include deterring weeds, better pollination, and yield increase. It is typical to plant two vegetables or a vegetable and herb together for mutual benefit. This means that the plants will not compete. Instead, they both enhance the soil and can even repel pests.
Co-planting maximizes the productivity of the plot and often reduce plot upkeep needs. There are many vegetables and herbs that can be co-planted! The following examples are available through the Farmer’s Almanac website:
- Tomatoes and Basil
- Carrots and Onions
- Peppers and Basil
- Green Beans and Corn
Rotational Planting: Rejuvenate your Soil
Rotational Planting is another strategy used to maximize productivity. Essentially, the name describes the strategy- rotating which crops you plant on specific fields each year. This practice allows for soil rejuvenation, less weeds, and better soil nutrient balance. Nitrogen, a key soil nutrient is easily depleted. Utilizing rotation strategy can remedy this common problem! Following is a small list of the benefits published by the USDA:
- Increase soil workability
- Reduce soil crusting
- Decrease pesticide inputs
- Improvement of air quality
Additionally, rotational planting may be hard for some farmers. Understandably, when land availability is limited, it’s difficult to keep a field unplanted for a year. However, this does not mean that you cannot utilize this strategy. Rotational planting can be effective by simply changing the crops planted in different fields each year. While researching this strategy, discovery of a planning tool for rotational planting was identified. The tool includes spreadsheets and detailed instructions. It also provides what you’re going to plant. And, it sets you up to plan how you’re going to plant. Additionally, the tool determines crop diversity. This is a valuable resource as it allows for complete planning, the year prior to plan execution. The complete plan can be found on the Sustainable Agriculture Resource and Education Website.
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Increased Productivity with Minimal Effort
In conclusion, co-planting and rotational planting allow farmers to increase productivity with minimal effort. These strategies are something you can do without spending extra money. While Grow Boxes are productive, they are also limited. Hopefully, these strategies will help you stay on par with technological advances!
Cally is a student at SUNY Cobleskill. She has been passionate about agriculture her whole life and is continuing agriculture pursuits as a major part of her college experience. She hopes to help others improve their businesses based on what she has learned through her experience and education.
Kanuckel, Amber. “Companion Planting: 10 Veggies that Should grow together.” (25 April 2018)
USDA. “Rotations for Soil Fertility: Small Scale solutions for your Farm.” (January 2009)