Growing up in Florida means you probably know a lot more about citrus than many people. Florida has been doing commercial citrus farming since the mid-1800’s and is now a 9 billion dollar industry employing 76,000 Floridians. From the months of October to April, Florida produces nearly 70% of the United States supply of citrus and nearly 90% of America’s orange juice. Florida is also doing amazing things for the environment through the citrus industry. For every acre of land with mature citrus trees, 16.7 tons of oxygen is released per year!
Although Florida leads the citrus industry, people all across the country are looking into environmental friendly ways to produce the crops. Russ Finch is an excellent example, as he may have created a revolutionary invention for the farming industry. Mr. Finch was able to produce oranges, lemons, and grapefruit in the dead of winter in Nebraska’s high plains. How was he able to do it? A geothermal greenhouse. He came up with a plan that cost him very little. His greenhouse was only $22,000 to get it started and only a dollar a day to run. This is huge because there are rarely any successful greenhouses in that part of the country due to high energy costs. The geothermal greenhouse has pipes that take the freezing winter air and pull them eight feet under the ground where the earth warms the air. The walls and roof panels allow the sun to heat the greenhouse even more which further reduces the need for electric and gas heaters.
Nebraska might not be the new citrus industry leader, but Mr. Finch’s invention could be beneficial to all growers across the globe. The seasons are so unpredictable and a low cost greenhouse would be very helpful during the unusually harsh winters some portion of the country have. It is also a huge benefit to the environment by cutting down the use of electric and gas energies.
Greenhouses also produce higher quality plants. In a greenhouse, you are able to control the temperature. Extreme variations of temperature can put plants into shock and kill them. In a greenhouse you do not have to worry about this happening and you can create a constant comfortable temperature for the plants. In addition, greenhouses allow a constant carbon dioxide flow to the plants which is often times not available to plants grown outside. Pests and disease are easily controlled in greenhouses because they are in a closed environment where free roaming insects and bacteria can’t reach them. You can also control the amount of water intake the plants have in a greenhouse. Too much or too little water can actually kill a plant. Greenhouses allow you to control many factors that will make your plants thrive. Who knows, maybe the future of farming is in greenhouses alone.