Where has all the good land gone? Protected Vegetable Culture – Our Future
D.J. Cantliffe, E. Jovicich, and G.J. Hochmuth
The 21st Century brings more people, less water, more demand for world food production, and a sing of hope for the future. Vegetable agriculture with its importance for human nutrition has gone through many production changes in the past 100 years. Science has taught farmers how to intensify their efforts many fold, giving them at present, the luxury and curse to over-produce. Unfortunately, as world economies dramatically improve, demands for land for non-agricultural use has likewise dramatically increased. Many science-based alternatives to insure high productivity have been diminished including the dependency on methyl bromide as a plant bed sterilant. The result is a scramble for export economies to drastically change vegetable production schemes. Protected agricultural systems in warm winter climates will surpass much of the open field production of today. Alternatives for soil-based systems as well as improved pest management are current problems facing such protected agricultural production schemes. Breeding programs to maximize efficiency of such protected agricultural systems are likewise essential. Plant growing structures must conform to the needs of plant productivity, as well as production economics. Most importantly, field-production-based agricultural systems of such places in North America as California, Florida, and Mexico must be prepared to change to more intense protected agricultural systems in as little as the next 5 years. The future for efficient economic vegetable production on a year-round basis will be dependent on these science-based changes.