Greenhouse farming involves the cultivation of crops in closed and protected environment. The closed and protected structure where crops are grown is called a greenhouse. In greenhouse farming, the structure used for growing crops has sealed top and sides.
With greenhouse farming, the climate can be regulated to fit the climatic requirement of a crop. Greenhouses also prevent the access of pests. Greenhouse farming if done right can significantly reduce the occurences of diseases in plants.
With greenhouse farming, crops that would not ordinarily grow in place because of the climate can be easily grown in a climate controlled greenhouse. For example, strawberry only grows in temperate environments, with the use of a greenhouse; strawberry may be grown in tropical areas.
In spite of the merits of greenhouse farming, there are challenges that every greenhouse farmer must consider before venturing into this unique way of farming. These challenges would be discussed in this article.
Challenges of Greenhouse Farming
- Cost of Constructing and Installing a Greenhouse
- Technical Expertise
- Pest and Diseases
- High Cost of Inputs
- Unavailability of Greenhouse Consumables and Planting Materials
- Water Supply
- EC/Nutrient Level Spikes
- High Temperature
The challenges of greenhouse farming are discussed as follows:
Cost of Constructing and Installing a Greenhouse
The cost of constructing and installing a greenhouse is usually higher than the cost of starting an open field farming venture. This is due to the materials needed for the greenhouse structure.
A greenhouse needs materials like galvanized iron, polythene cover, greenhouse nets, drip irrigation, planting materials and other materials. All these materials add up to make the cost of getting a greenhouse relatively high.
This challenge can be addressed by saving up or contacting your bank for a loan to acquire the greenhouse. A business plan must be done before venturing into greenhouse farming.
It is a bit difficult to get people with the technical knowhow to run and operate a greenhouse in Nigeria. Without good hands to run your greenhouse, you may likely get a low yield and run at a loss.
To address this challenge, you should endeavor to purchase your greenhouse from credible vendors like Veggie Concept. These vendors often do have trained agronomists that can help you out and also train your staff.
Pest and Diseases
Greenhouses are said to help in the prevention of pests and diseases because of their enclosed structure. However, pests and diseases can easily build up in a greenhouse if care is not taken.
Due to the enclosed structure of greenhouses, if pests and diseases get acess, they can easily build up and wreck havoc on the crops.
This greenhouse farming risk can be addressed by observing good agronomic practices and the use of prescribed pesticides.
High Cost of Inputs
Greenhouse farming is a type of intensive farming. High quality and expensive inputs like specialized fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, nematicides and acaricides etc. are needed. These inputs are often costly.
Unavailability of Greenhouse Consumables and Planting Materials
Greenhouses needs quality materials and inputs like hybrid seeds, sanitisers, pollinators and antagonistics insects and microbes. These planting materials and consummables are very scarce to get and sometimes unavailable.
To address this challenge, the farmer has to buy these materials before planting. These materials can be sourced from us.
Inadequate water supply is also one of the challenges a greenhouse farmer can face. Greenhouse crops need more water than open field crops.
Drip irrigation should be used because of its water conserving capability.
EC/Nutrient Level Spikes
The Electrical conductivity level may be normal when the nutrients solution is made but after fertigating the solution to the plants, the EC level may spike. This can be detrimental to the health and growth of the plants.
The EC level of the nutrient solution should be checked at all times to be sure that it is normal and within the acceptable range.
Greenhouses often experience sudden spikes in temperature, if this happens, the plants may be stressed, dry out and die off.
To address this problem, shade nets, cooling mechanisms and greenhouse fans may be used to control the temperature of the greenhouse.
What are the challenges you experience in your greenhouse? Kindly share your experiences in the comments’ section.