Stories

Iron Ox Plant Science Q&A

Iron Ox Plant Science Q&A image

Redesigning agriculture is not an easy task. Our Plant Science Team is essential to enabling sustainable farming practices and guaranteeing product quality.

Since we are revolutionizing a new way of growing produce, we often get questions on how exactly our processes work. In this blog, our plant science team answers two main topics of discussion regarding our farm: organics and pesticides.

Q: Why isn’t Iron Ox produce technically organic? (and why is that maybe better?)

While we follow or exceed many of the same practices used in organic production, some aspects of organic certifications relate to soil treatment. At Iron Ox, we grow hydroponically: our plants grow in nutrient-rich water instead of soil, vastly reducing the amount of water we use while improving our ability to provide the correct nutrients to our plants. It’s an approach to producing more by using fewer resources, and we are confident that it’s the better way to grow – for you, for the plant, and for the planet.

It’s not only soil that limits organic certification. To be certified organic, growers must use organic fertilizers, which can be inconsistent. We use manufactured fertilizers to ensure the proper nutrients are readily available for our plants. Organic fertilizers are also much slower to release nutrients, further impacting plant growth.

We’re not certified organic, but this does not impede our ability to deliver fresh, delicious produce that sets the standards for quality. Our produce tastes incredible, has lower environmental impacts, and we do it all at levels of precision that are impossible to achieve through traditional farming.

Q: In that case, is hydroponically grown produce better than organic?

Maybe. Simply defining “organic” is controversial. Different countries have different certifications, and there is an ongoing debate about organic certifications for hydroponically grown crops.

What’s clear is that hydroponically grown produce has benefits that many organic crops don’t have. Hydroponic crops use vastly less land and less water, and reduce the risk of exposure to diseases that can be spread through soil, like E.coli and salmonella, which are common on field farms.

Q: How does Iron Ox control pests or diseases on plants?

Iron Ox has an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) team dedicated to plant health and quality. This approach is different from conventional pest management because we consider many options in helping our plants thrive.

Our IPM team prevents pests and diseases and promotes overall plant health in various ways. We actively scout and monitor our crops to detect pests as soon as possible. We collect data and use it to make pest management decisions and forecast future pest attacks.

The fact that we are an indoor farm has the first and most significant impact on the health of our plants. This allows us to limit the entry of pests from the outside. We use cultural controls such as maintaining environmental conditions that reduce pest survival, establishment, reproduction, and dispersal.

To control pests, we rely on biological control agents such as predators, parasitoid wasps, entomopathogenic fungi, and nematodes. For example, ladybugs eat destructive pests such as aphids. These biological agents are essential to our greenhouse environment to defend plants against these pests.

We promote overall plant health by choosing commercial plant varieties resistant to pests. These varieties encounter less pest pressure, reducing the need to use any pest management.

Our Integrated Pest Management program utilizes pest exclusion, environmental controls, detailed data collection and analysis, choosing varieties wisely, and focuses on biological controls to greatly reduce our need to apply pesticides.

Have additional questions for our plant science team? Reach out to hello@ironox.com.

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Iron Ox

We believe the best food is grown locally and recently. Our growing facilities use advanced robotics to cultivate perfect, nutritious produce by giving each plant the specific attention it needs, and then getting it on a store shelf nearby within about a day of harvest.