Farm wives will like this bit of news that farming may soon go dirtless, at least according to a company called Indoor Farms of America. There will be no more dirty clothes to wash or messes to clean up when your hubby forgets to leave his mud in the mudroom.
Indoor Farms of America has just built the first 100 percent solar-powered vertical aeroponic indoor farm in the world. Talk about "no-till" farming; this news should have John Deere shaking in its shorts.
The company announced this "major milestone for indoor farming" in Las Vegas, and that's fitting because it sounds like a big gamble. But Indoor Farms of America has sold its indoor farms all over the world, in places like the Yukon, Dubai and West Africa, where it can "grow over double the yield of anything else in the world."
Indoor Farms of America insists "containerized farming will allow local people to have access to daily fresh herbs and greens that they never experienced before, all year long, no matter the weather."
It does sound like an easier way to make a hard living, but personally, I'll believe it when an indoor grown pumpkin wins the biggest pumpkin prize next Halloween, or a giant zucchini grows so large they have to remove the roof of the indoor farm to get the sizable squash out.
If this way of farming takes hold there will be no more clodhoppers, punkin' pilers, stubble jumpers, pea pickers, hoe men, plow chasers, cotton backs or dirt farmers. The price of farmland in Iowa will plummet and farm dogs, who before got to ride around in a pickup and explore the world, will now just mope under the porch all day.
I shouldn't be surprised – everything else is moving indoors. Chickens and hogs have been raised inside for decades and more "hoop houses" are being used to raise cattle inside. The marijuana growers started all this by developing the technology to grow pot indoors to hide it from the cops.
But indoor farming brings with it a whole new bunch of problems – like, how do you know how good your crop is compared to your neighbor’s, if you can't see it?
Indoor farming means no more ditch banks, tractor-pulling contests or rubber irrigating boots that leak. Instead of rednecks and brown faces covered with skin cancer, this new breed of farmer will be pasty white from being inside all day.
If they want to fit in with the old traditional farmers who meet every morning at the coffee shop two hours before sunup, they'll have to spend some serious time in a tanning booth. The farm workers will be easy to distinguish from the old clodhoppers in bib overalls and steel-toed boots; they'll be the ones wearing shorts and flip flops.
The pickers will be able to harvest tomatoes and potatoes standing up. And what's the worst than can happen – a broken beaker might fall on their toes? It will be difficult, however, to tell the indoor farm managers from the suited-up, soft-shoe bankers who financed this fiasco.
Because there's no dirt, farm wives won't even have to change clothes when they come home from their day job to go to work on the farm. I suppose it's possible that a grocery store cashier might go to work in the hog house with her Piggly Wiggly badge still on.
Indoor farming will bring with it another upheaval in the industry. Farm shows will be entirely indoors, of course, and this new breed of cell-phone farmer won't have to pray for rain ever again. He'll just dial up an inch of rain from his phone.
There are some things that will stay the same, of course. The indoor farmers will overproduce, and the government will come up with some sort of program to give the farmers something else to complain about other than the price. Farming used to be like throwing dice in the dirt but in the future there may be no need for dirt.
Just think, if things get too bad we may read about the occasional indoor farmer who commits suicide by jumping from the 10th floor of his farm.
I just have one thing to say to this new breed of indoor farmers: "Shame on you. Turn in your cap."
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers may log on to www.LeePittsbooks.com to order any of Lee Pitts’ books. Those with questions or comments for Lee may write to him in care of this publication.