Hurricane Irma Puts Experimental Crop Bed Design to the Test
An experimental crop bed design underwent real world testing with Hurricane Irma in Florida.
New inventions generally undergo a slew of testing in a lab setting, but sometimes real life provides the best tests. Such is the case with Hurricane Irma and the experimental crop bed design created by UF/IFAS professor of agricultural and biological engineering, Sanjay Shukla. The real-world testing was explained in a Vegetable and Specialty Crop News article. See the details below.
Experimental Crop Bed Design Versus Hurricane Irma
The experimental crop bed design is termed “compact bed geometry” and is part of plasticulture. The beds are part of hundreds of acres of crops at the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee. They are used to grow high-end vegetables like tomatoes. Shukla’s experimental crop bed design is less than an inch to a foot high and 1 ½ to 2 feet across rather than the standard 6 to 8 inches high and about 3 feet across.
The point is to produce the same amount of crops with lower inputs and other costs, something Shukla and his team have shown. For instance, producers can use one drip tape instead of two without decreasing production.
Hurricane Irma provided real-world testing. Shukla maintained, ““We were testing for flooding, and didn’t expect to have winds strong enough the effects of wind force on crops. So, when the hurricane hit we were, in a way, very fortunate. Here was an opportunity to see if geometric bedding that I designed could withstand and protect crops during a severe storm.”
The team’s bed designs stood the tests of the storms, protecting crops. Many producers lost crops, but others lost crop beds or the ability to fumigate and prepare beds for planting. The experimental crop beds may be a way to protect crops and soils in the future.
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Photo courtesy of USDA.