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Whether you’re growing on an industrial farm or in a simple outdoor garden, the outdoors poses many risks for all crops. One day of bad weather can destroy an entire field’s worth of crops—as we saw this year with the catastrophic August 10 derecho that hit the Midwest and cost upward of $7.5 billion dollars in total. The following types of controlled environments for crop production provide farmers with protection of their livelihoods through any weather while nurturing plants for bountiful harvests.

Indoor Agriculture

Industrial greenhouses are popular indoor solutions for the intense risks of outdoor growing. Inside a greenhouse, a farmer can control the light, humidity, water, and temperature of the growing climate. While more expensive to purchase at first, a greenhouse provides a mix of natural sunlight and protection from Mother Nature.

However, controlled growing environments for crops isn’t limited to just greenhouses. Anywhere a farmer can take the reins of the climate and atmosphere is a good location for controlled agriculture. For example, crop production can occur in places such as warehouses and shipping containers with the proper modifications, such as LED UV lights and temperature controls. These indoor methods are also some of the best ways to naturally reduce pests and diseases in crops.

When production moves indoors, the options for contemporary gardening methods diversify. Some of the most interesting ways farmers can move away from soil-based farms include:

Hydroponic Gardening

Hydroponic gardens are popular choices for massive indoor farming efforts, since hydroponic equipment has become more obtainable and affordable. The water usage of a hydroponic farm and the lack of soil provide a more environmentally friendly way to garden without sacrificing results. Because so much control is involved in a hydroponic garden, a farmer may experience more prosperous results than in a soil-based garden.

Aquaponic Gardening

Not to be confused with hydroponics, aquaponic gardening requires a freshwater fish tank to generate some of the essential nutrients the plants require. The plants produce oxygen in the water for the fish, and in turn, the fish generate nutritious fertilizer. The two connected systems produce healthy plants and a large stock of delicious fish, such as tilapia.

Outdoor Solutions for Controlled Environments

Partial protection for outdoor crops still adds an extra layer of safety, even when a farm isn’t ready to make the full transition indoors. Types of controlled environments for crop production outdoors include canopies, covered tunnels, and plastic tarps. These protective methods aren’t the most effective tools for crop protection, but they’ll add extra growing time to the season when properly utilized.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.

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