Sun, 21 Jun 09

Niches - Economic and Ecologic

Eric Mortenson’s report on the economic perseverance and adaptability in Klamath County talks about how Liskey Farms is creating new lines of business. 

Klamath Falls sits on natural geothermal springs, and geothermal power was used to heat homes in the area, starting in 1900. Today, schools and colleges are offering courses and careers in renewable power generation using geothermal energy. 

The economics of geothermal heating allows Liskey Farms to maintain and operate a greenhouse where “lima beans sprout and grow 3 inches in two days”. 

The company leasing the greenhouse intentionally infests the lima beans to grow spider mites. Spider mites are known to feed on more than 180 different plant species in both greenhouse and outdoor environments and are considered a serious pest in agriculture. Strawberry fields, grape vineyards, almond orchards, apple orchards and mint fields are susceptible to spider mite attacks. 

Several companies offer biological controls for spider mite infestations. At $25 per 1000 bugs in a bottle, farmers and growers can get predator mites which attack and feed on spider mites. 

Lima beans are grown in geothermally heated greenhouses to breed spider mites specifically to harvest their eggs and use them as feed for predator mites, which are then bottled and sold to orchards and vineyards to increase their yield. As Liskey simplifies it, in traditional terms:

“We’re the hayfield to the feedlot.”

Just another example of ecological niches combined with economic requirements harnessing available resources to create new businesses.

What’s your niche?

Sun, 21 Jun 09