ADVANTAGES OF POLYCULTURE

Advantages of Polyculture GreenhousesPolyculture is the agricultural process of growing multiple crops in the same space, in this way it is reflective of the way plants in a natural ecosystems coexist. Wheareas most industrial farming practices have leaned towards monoculture - the growing of large ares of a single crop - Starfield Centres are built around the belief that polyculture techniques provide many benefits over current farming methods, including:

  • Reduces susceptibility to disease. Many varieties of plants naturally assist each other in  building up a resistance to disease.
  • Certain plants act as natural inspect repellents.
  • Maximizes use of space, allowing for greater crop yields per acre.
  • Polyculture by definition makes for a wider variety of food grown.
  • Biodiversity can assist in pollination.
  • Provides habitat for beneficial creatures.

 

To facilitate the benefits of polyculture Starfield Centres are built around three core plant groupings and the companion plants which work best with them.

 

Orchard House

Orchard Polyculture Greenhouse Fruit - Apricots, Cherries and NectarinesThis soil-based greenhouse polyculture design is centered around the production of apricots, nectarines, and cherries complemented with a number of strategically intercropped plants and fungi.

 

One hectare of this cultivation system is projected to have a per hectare yield (at maturity) of approximately:

  • 11.700 kilograms of apricots
  • 5,600 kilograms of cherries
  • 17,800 kilograms of nectarines
  • 912 kilograms of chives
  • 1,800 kilograms of green beans
  • 3,000 kilograms of lettuce
  • 2,200 kilograms of shiitake mushrooms
  • 1,800 kilograms of winecap stropharia mushrooms

 

In addition, the system produces annual harvests of cut flowers (echinacea), edible flowers (calendula), and medicinal herbs (echinacea, comfrey, and calendula). In total, the system produces around 42,000 kilograms of productive yield per hectare, which is much higher than the typical 25,000 kilograms of yield from a high-density orchard.

 

Key Benefits

Producing this set of crops in a greenhouse has some key financial advantages:

  • The grower can avoid common problems facing outdoor orchards: bird predation (all tree crops), fruit loss due to early frost (particularly for apricots), winter frost damage (particularly for cherries), and sunburn.
  • The production season can be strategically extended by planting a mix of early and late cultivars, the harvest period can be greatly extended, especially by taking advantage of the early fruiting possible in a greenhouse.
  • Crops that are currently not grown in the region can be grown in this system providing fresh local sources of popular fruits.

 

Berry House

Berry Polyculture GreenhouseThe berry greenhouse polyculture design is focused around the production of perennial crops of raspberries, currants, gooseberries, blueberries, and lignonberries intercropped with rhubarb and a variety of herbs and fungi.

 

A Berry House is projected to have a per hectare
yield (at maturity) of approximately:

  • 1,400 kilograms of currants
  • 5,000 kilograms of gooseberries
  • 9,300 kilograms of lowbush blueberries
  • 8,500 kilograms of high bush blueberries
  • 5,000 kilograms of raspberries
  • 2,800 kilograms of lignon berries
  • 10,800 kilograms of rhubarb
  • 500 kilograms of garlic
  • 4,000 kilograms of various mushrooms
  • 1,500 kilograms of thyme and sage
  • 2,700 kilograms of winter squash.

Key Benefits

Producing this set of crops in a greenhouse has some key financial advantages, similar to those gained through the tree polyculture.

  • The grower can avoid common problems facing outdoor berry production: bird predation (all berry crops).
  • The production season can be strategically extended by planting a mix of early and late cultivars, the harvest period can be greatly extended, especially by taking advantage of the early fruiting possible in a greenhouse.
  • Additional co-products, such as mushrooms, are easier to produce in climate controlled conditions than in an outdoor agro-forestry system.
  • This system produces a large variety of high value berry products for local sale at retail prices.

 

 

Veggie House

Vegetable Polyculture GreenhouseThis greenhouse polyculture design focuses on an in-soil annual crop combination that is suitable for year-round production. The plan takes advantage of succession planting (using the same area for the production of multiple crops that mature in sequence throughout the year) and relay cropping with the same crop to create an extended production season.

 

This design is very different from the previous two in that this design uses a very intensive and high density cropping approach to produce year-round, with harvests made in every month of cultivation. One hectare of such a system is projected to have a per hectare yield of approximately 500,000 kilograms of produce per year, using conservative yield estimates.

 

Veggie House Crops: Mizuna, Claytonia, Mache, Red Oak Lettuce, Tomatoes (Heirloom, Cherry, Pear), Green Onions, Leeks, Carrots, Beans, Zucchini, Radish, Romaine Lettuce, Peas, Arugula, Parsley, Bok Choi, Beets, Spinach.

 

Key Benefits

With each plot in constant production, the potential yields of the system are very high. This polyculture approach offers the additional potential benefits:

  • Crops are produced year-round without supplemental heat or lighting, which also results in some cost savings to the grower.
  • Winter-grown crops can be left in the ground for harvesting as needed, saving on storage costs.
  • The design is flexible and crops can be switched out on a yearly basis if they are not selling at the desired rate.

Hebs grown in Greenhouses

Starfield Centre, Naturally Nutritious Vegetables

Advantages of Polyculture Greenhouses

Orchard Polyculture Greenhouse Fruit - Apricots, Cherries and Nectarines

Berry Polyculture Greenhouse

Vegetable Polyculture Greenhouse

Hebs grown in Greenhouses

Starfield Centre, Naturally Nutritious Vegetables Copyright © 2016 AgSpectra, Ltd. - All Rights Reserved