Terhune Orchards uses plastic mulch, which is a service and technology innovation that uses black plastic to reduce water loss and weed growth, thus creating a larger volume of better, organic crops. The plastic mulch is laid across the acres of farmland to keep and save the water in the soil and allow the plants to grow more efficiently.
Rutgers Business School
Terhune Orchards in Princeton, NJ is implementing plastic mulch on to their farms to reduce the water loss in their vegetable fields. This is an innovation that uses plastic in a new way for farming methods to sustainably manage water on a farm. Terhune Orchards lays plastic on top of mounds of soil on their farm to reduce the amount of water loss. The use of plastic mulch on the farm is linked to Goal 12 in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal, which is based on responsible consumption. The plastic much allows for the sustainable consumption of water for all of the plants on the farm, and therefore, allows the production of these vegetables to be of higher volume and quality. The use of plastic mulch has a large impact on the company because the owners of the farm care a lot about sustainable production and taking care of the Earth and its resources. Also, because they use plastic mulch, less weeds grow on the plants, and labor costs go down for the company because they do not have a need for workers to hoe the farm. Plastic mulch has a large impact on the amount of water lost, which has global benefits in regards to sustainable management of farms on any scale.
Pam and Gary Mount, the owners and founders of Terhune Orchards, were involved with the innovation and spearheading the implementation of the plastic mulch across their farm. The Mount’s knew how important it was to help the environment and be benevolent farmers to the world. “We want to be stewards of the earth, not rapists," said Pam Mount. The farm funded this entire innovation transition on their own because they believed that this transition would save them money and make the farm more profitable and productive in the long run. “Ever since we worked together on that island for the Peace Corps, we always wanted to make a difference by taking several measures to benefit the environment. Those inhabitants of the island were one of my top inspirations.”
In the short term, the plastic mulch saves water by keeping the water underneath the plastic. This is important because this area of Princeton, NJ does not have as much water. Also, the plastic mulch gets rid of weeds, so there is less of a need of manual labor for hoeing the fields. This makes costs go down for the orchard, but also increases productivity for the labor force as well as the crops themselves. In the long term, there are many benefits to society by using plastic mulch. Because the plastic mulch allows for growth of better and more crops, the overall cost of food for society is lower. The increased productivity due to the plastic mulch makes the cost of production less, offering competitive profit margins.
The impact that has occurred at Terhune Orchards due to implementing plastic mulch includes drip irrigation on their 200 acre fruit and vegetable farm. They have been using 25% of water used in overhead irrigation to water crops. This application has saved $10,800 thus far, and relates to the plastic mulch in the sense that the mulch keeps the water from evaporating. Therefore, the water lasts longer and there is less waste. Also, the use of plastic mulch to reduce water loss in vegetable fields, resulting in 3,000,000 gallons of water saved.
Because they use plastic mulch, less weeds grow on the plants, and labor costs go down for the company because they do not have a need for workers to hoe the farm. This labor is not cheap, and involved unskilled laborers doing mindless tasks. This was a huge factor of the farms excess costs, and the workers could then spend the time doing more productive tasks. They were using their resources wisely, including their people.
Also, the plastic warms up the soil in the springtime earlier than usual, allowing for a better and longer growth of the vegetables and less of these vegetables having to be thrown away. This makes production go up, and provides better crops so less have to be rejected and they can maximize profit.
The quality of the vegetables are so much better with the plastic mulch rather than wood chips, because it helps to prevent bugs from eating away at the plants, as well as how they help to heat the plants up when the weather is colder, creating more weeks of produce. Quantity and quality both end up going up, with rejecting less plants and having more crops to choose from when the spoilage does not occur.
Utilizing black mulch provides many qualitative impacts and benefits. One of the most notable benefits is that the black mulch minimizes the amount of water needed to grow the crops. Since the black mulch retains more water, it lets the water trickle down into the soil at a more effective rate. Also, since the black mulch prevents the weeds from growing and killing their crops, it replaces the need for pesticides and herbicides, which hurt animals, soil, crops, and affect the air we breathe.
Pam Mount, Owner
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Princeton, NJ, US
Business Website: https://terhuneorchards.com/
Year Founded: 1975
Number of Employees: 11 to 50
Terhune Orchards is a family owned farm in Princeton, NJ. The farm is 200 acres of apple picking, pumpkin picking, a farm market, winery, and farm animals.