Greenhouse Farming

Monday, October 24, 2016

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Greenhouse
agriculture is a growing trend around the world, and crops grown under these conditions are in high demand. With significant losses every year in agriculture due to diverse weather conditions in Jamaica, farming with greenhouses is one way to safeguard plants and increase harvest. One advantage of growing vegetables in a greenhouse rather than in the field is that you can precisely control fertilisation, irrigation, and sometimes temperature. Greenhouses are also used to extend seasons and to protect from weather extremes such as heavy rain and hail.




WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?


• Increased yields


• Improved quality and consistency of crops


• Improved land and water use efficiency


• Increased control over crop nutrition


• Decreased use of chemicals and pesticides


• Improved resistance to adverse weather conditions


• Increased control over insects and diseases


• Reduced external and biological crop threats




WHAT CAN BE GROWN?


Crops grown in greenhouses have higher production costs than field crops, but they can also have higher returns. The crops can include those that can be grown in greenhouses in their off season (tomato, pepper, lettuce), those that can only be produced in greenhouses (seedless cucumbers), and those that can be produced with superior quality in greenhouses (most crops).




GETTING STARTED


Before you begin any agriculture venture, you need to ask yourself the following questions:


• Do you have a market for your produce?


• Where will your start-up funds come from?


• What type of financial projections can you make for your crops?


• Where will your inputs come from?


• Do you have all the technical expertise required?




HOW DO YOU SELECT


Several factors are important in choosing the location for greenhouse farming. You should select a location with the following considerations:


• Relatively level area


• Good drainage


• Easy access to markets


• Quality soil


• Good quality water supply


• Lack of temperature extremes or high winds




TIPS TO SELECT YOUR CROPS


The first step in growing any crop is to choose the best variety. This is usually done by selecting high quality seed from a reputable seed company. You should select your varieties based on the following criteria:


• Size and shape of fruit desired


• Disease resistance


• Resistance to physiological problems (ie cracking)


• Fruit characteristics such as colour, taste, shelf life and firmness




GREENHOUSE DESIGNS


Greenhouses can be constructed in an array of styles, sizes, materials and colours, so there is sure to be one to suit every farm and every farmer’s pocket. Each kind has its place and to make a choice it is important to have a fairly good idea at the outset what sort of crop production you intend to be doing in your greenhouse. Types of greenhouses include:


• Attached greenhouses (lean to an even-span)


• Window-mounted


• Freestanding




WHAT MATERIALS CAN YOU USE FOR CONSTRUCTION?


The frames can be made of wood, galvanised steel, or aluminium. Materials made of plastic are generally not recommended for framing as they are inadequate to meet temperature and windload requirements. Frames can be covered with glass, rigid fibreglass, rigid double-wall plastics, or plastic film.




PRODUCTION METHODS


Several methods can be used for production in a greenhouse. These include planting directly in the soil, using containers with soil mixtures, perlite and coir bags.




CROP NUTRITION


Close attention to a fertiliser programme is required for the production of high yields and high quality produce. Poor fertiliser management can lead to serious quality problems that may be difficult to correct.




HOW TO HARVEST


• Harvesting should be done as dictated by the market


• Reaping should be done during the cooler parts of the day


• Harvesting workers should have closely trimmed fingernails to prevent damage to produce


• Harvesting containers should be sturdy, re-useable, not too deep, have a smooth inner surface and are easily cleaned



– Source: Ebony Park HEART Academy


 


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