Today’s society is more adaptable than ever, and with increasing technological advances and a broader knowledge of our planet, scientists and farmers are bending the rules that once controlled and limited crop production. Hydroponic farming, for instance, which grows plants in water rather than soil, is paving the way toward a healthier environment, safer produce, and increased food production in food deserts.
This agricultural practice allows farmers to grow produce in areas where fruits and vegetables can’t typically grow due to unfavorable weather and soil conditions. Additionally, because hydroponic systems are closed, they recycle water, eliminating the potential for runoff pollution and increasing water use efficiency. Thus, hydroponic farming is healthier and safer for both people and the environment.
But with such a safe and environmentally-friendly farming technique available, why are hydroponic farmers having trouble promoting their produce?
What do Consumers Want?
Hydroponic farmers market their produce as organic certified, as no pesticides are required in hydroponic farms; however, some consumers aren’t convinced that hydroponically grown produce is organic. Besides this, consumers aren’t as interested in buying organic produce as they are in buying locally grown produce. In fact, according to a 2011 online study, consumers preferred locally grown produce to organic and sustainably grown produce.
So how can we promote hydroponic farming? In order for hydroponic farming to make an impact on society—and the environment—hydroponic farmers must promote locally grown produce to drum up interest in their market.
In addition to finding locally grown produce most appealing, consumers also found environmental safety and food safety as big ticket items. According to Bridget Behe, a Horticulture Marketing Professor at Michigan State University, while consumers are conscious of food safety concerns, they are not educated on the sources of food safety issues.
Consumers believe that recalls on produce—due to, for example, E. coli found on heads of lettuce—are product-related rather than production-related. Behe suggests asking consumers if they would be more likely to find E. coli on hydroponic lettuce or on field-grown lettuce. The key to increasing awareness of the health and environmental benefits of hydroponic farming is to educate the public; however, the public’s concerns don’t end with health and safety.
Consumers care about aesthetics—how produce looks on a shelf. Slimy, wilting spinach is unappealing, whether it’s hydroponically grown or field-grown. While hydroponic farming is safer for consumers and the environment, it does pose some issues, such as bacterial growth in the water.
How xVital can Help
xVital, xVirity’s salt-free, liquid fertilizer, serves as an excellent, safe, and effective solution for growing healthy produce. By adding xVital to their hydroponic system, farmers can achieve a perfect pH balance, ward off harmful bacteria and mold, and accelerate plant growth. A key step in helping the environment and consumers is switching to hydroponic farming, and with xVital, farmers can present their best produce to markets and hungry shoppers.