Greenhouse farming: How to do greenhouse farming in India?
In this article, we are going to see how to do greenhouse farming in India.
Greenhouse farming is the unique method of growing crops within sheltered structures covered by a transparent, or partially transparent, material.
A greenhouse is a complex engineering and technical structure designed for growing plants. It is not being built in order to save money or absorb some kind of subsidies. A commercial greenhouse is built in order to make money by selling the grown crop.
The minimum greenhouse area depends on the financial capabilities of its owner, the available land area, and the market situation at the planned sales location.
The size of the greenhouse also depends on the planned growth period. Small producers often plan to build a greenhouse of 100-200 m2 and use it all year round. Something like this is possible only in a very warm (but not hot) climate, but not in conditions when freezing temperatures are outside in winter.
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Climate requirement for greenhouse farming
Novice “greenhouses” usually think only about heating, forgetting about all the other parameters of the microclimate. In the greenhouse, it is necessary to control the humidity of the air, the easiest way is to achieve this by ventilation. In modern tall greenhouses, if necessary, open transoms in winter, energy-saving screens are closed over the plants to protect them from cold air, but in low small greenhouses, this is impossible. Therefore, semi-professional greenhouses should be planned from the very beginning for the cultivation of cold-resistant crops in early spring and, possibly, in summer and autumn.
The choice of greenhouse design and equipment depends on the crop being grown. In low-tech greenhouses, this difference is not as great as in high-tech greenhouses, but it also exists. For example, when growing lettuce, spinach, and gingerbread plants in the soil of a greenhouse, the heating requirements are much lower than when growing cucumber, tomato, or pepper. If greens and radishes are grown in the ground, then for fruit vegetables it is better to use a limited volume of substrate (various trays, less often containers). For tall crops – cucumber, tomato, pepper – a trellis is required, which means that the design must take into account the additional load and the place where the trellis is attached.
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Irrigation Requirement for greenhouse farming
Choice of Irrigation system
The choice of irrigation system – sprinklers or drip irrigation – also depends on the crop grown. Trays may be required to grow strawberries. For growing seedlings in the winter-spring period, an additional lighting system may be required. This also affects the height of the greenhouse, high pressure sodium lamps should be placed no closer than 1.5-12 m from the tops of the plants. LED lights can be placed closer to plants, but they are much more expensive and will not pay off so soon.
The greenhouse cannot be built anywhere. The site for its construction must be flat (the optimal slope is 0.003-0.012 m per 1 running m), with difficult terrain this can be a serious problem. Height differences have to be leveled or terraced, both road options.
The structure of the soil on which the greenhouse is to be built must provide good drainage. Water should not accumulate either in the greenhouse itself after irrigation or near it during and after rain. It is important that rainwater does not drain into the greenhouse from the roofs of neighboring buildings. The groundwater level should not be higher than 1.5-2.0 m in order to prevent flooding of the greenhouse during spring floods.
The site should be protected from strong winds, but at the same time, it should be well lit, the shadow of other buildings or trees should not fall on the greenhouse.
The quality and quantity of water available for irrigation are important. When grown directly in the soil, the water quality may be worse, it may contain more impurities, but when using drip irrigation and a limited volume of substrate, the risk of salt sediment deposition in the irrigation system and disturbance of plant nutrition increases. It must be remembered that the irrigation system must provide at least 10 liters of water / m2 per day. It is recommended that an analysis of the irrigation water be done prior to designing the greenhouse. If the water turns out to be very bad (and this happens very often, especially when using wells), you will have to solve the issue of its purification (for example, using a reverse osmosis filter) or look for other sources of water supply. In some cases, you have to abandon the construction of a greenhouse for this very reason!
Facilities Required for greenhouse farming
Communications are very important. Access to roads and their condition, power grids, possibly gas, and, accordingly, permits for their use and limits.
The presence of working hands. Labor costs in greenhouses depend on the crop grown and the degree of mechanization of work. On small farms, a significant proportion of the work is done by the owners themselves and their family members, but it should be remembered that one person can cope with the care of plants and harvesting on an area of 900-1000 m2. If the owner of the farm has to deal with the sale of products himself, the acquisition of all the necessary materials and communication with all kinds of officials and inspectors, and the family is small, then hired workers will be required. Currently, the availability of labor is becoming the main limiting factor in all areas of production, including in greenhouses. Not every person is physically capable of working in a greenhouse at elevated temperatures and humidity, and this must be taken into account.
Of course, it is most convenient to locate greenhouses close to the community, ideally so that workers can come to work by bicycle, and not from a neighboring city. However, it is necessary to take into account the prospects for the development of the settlement, so that in 10-15 years the greenhouse built on the outskirts of the village does not suddenly end up in the center of the city. It must be remembered that with all environmentally friendly cultivation methods, greenhouses still pollute the environment to some extent. Neighbors may not like the smoke from the boiler room, the smell of organic fertilizers, or the implementation of plant protection measures in greenhouses and in the surrounding area, so it is better if the greenhouses are located near the settlement, but not within its boundaries, as well as away from residential buildings.