Friday, December 16, 2016

Hydroponic farming could be a solution in areas that lack water; critics say it's not organic

A hydroponic operation
(KBIA photo by Kristofor Husted) 
Who says you need fertile soil to farm? Hydroponics, which is farming in water instead of soil, is catching on in parts of the world that lack the necessary landscape for traditional farming, Seham El Oraby reports for Reuters. Outside Cairo, farmer Amr Bassiouny says he is growing salad greens "using 90 percent less water than traditional methods, and at the same time obtaining better yields." He told Reuters, "This is important in Egypt because we have scarce water resources, so you're able to grow large quantities with much less use of resources."

Hydroponics isn't a new idea, but it is catching on in areas like Cairo, where unlicensed construction following the nation's 2011 uprising led to an estimated loss of 90,000 acres of farmland over a three-year period, El Oraby writes.

The success of hydroponics could be a solution in the U.S. in areas where drought has decimated water supplies. But a battle is an ongoing about whether or not crops grown through hydroponics can be certified as organic, Kristofor Husted reports for KBIA in Columbia, Mo.

Hydroponic farmers "contend their system protects soil by not even using it. If they grow produce without the synthetic fertilizers and pesticides barred in organic production, they say, they should be allowed to market their goods as organic," Husted writes. "That’s a problem for many farmers who say soil is the essential ingredient for organic production. Many organic farmers say that from its very inception, organic farming was built on nurturing soil health. And some are worried that cheaper produce harvested year-round from hydroponic farms in warehouses will undercut organic prices."

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