Greenhouse farming is a type of farming that involves the growing of crops in closed and protected structures. The structure called a greenhouse often has a roof and sealed walls or sides.
Greenhouse farming enables farmers to cultivate their crops under regulated climatic conditions. With greenhouse farming, farmers can grow their crops whilst keeping pests and diseases away. Greenhouses enable farmers to better control pests and diseases.
Greenhouse farming also enables farmers to grow crops they would ordinarily not grow in the open field because of the climate, season or pests and diseases. For example, strawberry which is a temperate crop can be grown in hot tropical areas with the use of climate controlled greenhouses.
Crops that cannot do well in wet humid climatic condition of southern Nigeria can be grown in greenhouses with humidity controlled capability. This is one of the advantages of greenhouse farming as farmers can create ideal growing conditions with the use of greenhouses.
Greenhouse farming can also be used for the rearing of animals. Some animals can be kept inn greenhouse like structures.
What is a greenhouse?
A greenhouse is an enclosed structure where crops can be planted. A typical greenhouse has a roof and walls on all its sides. The roof can be made of plastic or glass. The sides of the greenhouse can also be made of glass, plastic and nets.
A greenhouse can be used to grow crops that cannot ordinarily grow because of the climatic condition of an area. For example, blueberry grows only in temperate climes. In Nigeria, greenhouses with climate controlled technology can be used to grow blueberry.
A greenhouse can also be used to control pests and diseases that can affect crops. For example, a greenhouse can keep away pests like insects, aphids and beetles. These pests can transmit diseases to plants. With the control of pests and diseases, greenhouses can assure higher yields.
A greenhouse can also be called a polytunnel.
Components of a greenhouse
The components of a greenhouse (greenhouse farming materials) are the items that are used to assemble the greenhouse. These components are listed and explained as follows:
Galvanized Iron or Pipes
A significant proportion of greenhouses in Nigeria are made of galvanized iron pipes or rods. The pipes are used to make the frame and housing of the greenhouse. The outer structure of the greenhouse is made of galvanized iron pipes. It should be noted that some greenhouses are made of wood and PVC pipes, in this case, iron pipes may not be used.
The greenhouse cover is the material used for covering the roof of the greenhouse. The greenhouse cover is often made of plastic or glass. Most of the greenhouses in Nigeria use plastic cover for their roofs. The greenhouse cover protects the greenhouse from the elements. It also regulates the percentage of shade of sunlight that the plants will receive.
Greenhouse Exhaust Fan
The greenhouse exhaust fan is used for the cooling of plants in the greenhouse. It can also be used for the removal of warm and humid air in the greenhouse. The exhaust fan can help in the controlling of the humidity level in the greenhouse.
Drip Irrigation System
The drip irrigation system enables plants to receive water through their roots in a slow release format. It is an efficient type of irrigation. Greenhouses use drip irrigation system for providing water to the plants they house. With a drip irrigation system in a greenhouse, Fertigation and Chemigation can be practiced.
Sprinkler Irrigation System
Greenhouses can use sprinklers instead of drip irrigation systems. The types of sprinklers that can be used in a greenhouse include rain guns, spray tubes or rain hoses and misters etc. Some sprinklers are used to increase the humidity level in greenhouses.
Insect Net (Anti-Insect Mesh)
The insect net or screen is used for preventing insects, thrips and aphids etc. from gaining access into the greenhouses. Insects transmit diseases to plants; this is why some greenhouses use insect nets to guard the plants against diseases.
Carbon IV Oxide Gas Chamber
The carbon dioxide chamber is one of the components of some types of greenhouses. This chamber produces carbon IV oxide for the plants in the greenhouse. Carbon IV Oxide is used for photosynthesis, more of it in a greenhouse can optimize photosynthesis and significantly improve crop yield.
A mulch is used to cover the soil in a greenhouse. There are several types of mulches namely plastic mulch, fabric mulch and organic mulches like rice husks. The use of plastic mulches is common in greenhouse farming.
Planting Bags (Grow Bags)
Greenhouses often use planting bags to grow plants. The planting bags are where seeds and seedlings are planted. They are carefully arranged in rows in a greenhouse. The planting bag also houses the planting medium.
Some of the planting media that can be used in a greenhouse include perlite, cocopeat, rock wool and peat etc. The seeds or seedlings are usually planted in the planting media. Sterile media should be used in greenhouses in order to assure a pest and disease free growing run.
Pollinators like bees and artificial brush pollinators are some of the items needed in a greenhouse. A greenhouse prevents the entrance of insects like bees; hence, it needs pollinators like bees.
Climate controlled equipment
Some greenhouses have climate controlled technology. This technology is used to control the temperature and humidity level in the greenhouse. With this technology, any crop can be grown since the climatic need of the crop can be achieved.
Greenhouse Repair Tape
The greenhouse repair tape is used for repairing damaged greenhouse covers. This tape can be used to seal tears, damages or holes on the greenhouse cover.
The greenhouse profile is used to reinforce the integrity of the greenhouse. This component makes the greenhouse withstand elements like the wind.
Types of greenhouse in Nigeria
The following are some types of greenhouses or shapes of greenhouses:
The plastic greenhouse is a type of greenhouse with a plastic polythene roofing sheet. The plastic cover roof prevents the plants from the elements.
The glass greenhouse is not common in Nigeria. As the name implies, it is made of glass and completely sealed.
This is a DIY greenhouse made with PVC pipes. It is commonly used by hobbyists, peri-urban farmers and gardeners.
The wooden greenhouse is made of wood. Instead of using galvanized iron pipes for the structure of a greenhouse, wood or timber can be used. Wood can be used to build a locally made greenhouse.
How to Construct a Greenhouse in Nigeria
To construct a greenhouse, you need to get a design done by an expert. The design is usually done with the use of CAD technology. Hobbyists may be able to construct small greenhouses themselves; however, if you need a standard greenhouse, you are advised to contact us.
At Veggie Concept, we have experts that will do the drawings, construct the greenhouse, design the drip irrigation for the greenhouse and install the greenhouse in your site. We also import greenhouses from Turkey, Netherlands, India and China etc.
To construct a greenhouse, you need tools like drilling machines, hammers, screwing machines, ladder, iron bending machines and other power tools. These tools should be handled by experts.
We ask a lot of questions from you before constructing a greenhouse for you. We need climate data of your area, topography, size of land, wind speed, humidity level and temperature etc.
To save you the stress of constructing a greenhouse, simply contact us a get your greenhouse designed, constructed and installed on your site.
How to set-up a greenhouse
To set –up a greenhouse needs some steps. You need to have the knowledge of greenhouse farming. This can be acquired through training. You also need a suitable farmland and other farming infrastructure.
Greenhouse farming is expensive, often way more expensive than open filed farming. You will need funds in order to set-up a greenhouse.
If you cannot run your greenhouse yourself, you need to engage experts that can set-up the greenhouse for you and also manage the greenhouse for you.
Crops that can be grown in greenhouses in Nigeria
The following are the crops that can be grown in a greenhouse profitably:
Check any greenhouse in Nigeria and you are likely to see tomato as the main crop grown there. Tomato is a vegetable crop that can be profitably grown in greenhouses. Tomato is seen as a premium crop, hence, the decision of some farmers to grow it in a greenhouse.
Greenhouse grown tomatoes are sold at premium prices in Nigeria. These tomatoes can be found in high end supermarkets and big hotels in Nigeria.
Greenhouse tomato varieties are better grown in greenhouses.
Sweet pepper as a vegetable crop is also a greenhouse crop. Sweet pepper is well grown in greenhouses in Nigeria and around the world. Sweet pepper is a premium crop; it can be sold at good prices at supermarkets and high end hotels. It can also be a profitable crop for greenhouse farmers.
Cucumber is known as farmers’ ATM in Nigeria because of its ability to make money for farmers within a short period of time. All types of cucumbers can be grown in a greenhouse. The slicing type of cucumbers is popularly grown in greenhouses.
Other crops that can be grown in greenhouses in Nigeria include:
- Chili Pepper
- Sweet Corn
- Habanero Pepper
- Chinese Cabbage
- Parsley etc.
Seedlings can also be raised in greenhouses
Steps to take to start greenhouse farming
The following are the steps to take to start greenhouse farming in Nigeria:
A suitable site should be chosen for the greenhouse farming project. The site should have a flat land so that the greenhouse can be easily installed on it. The soil should also be fertile and there should be easy access to water.
There should also be good roads to the site for easy evacuation of the greenhouse produce.
The site should also be near a city or large town so that you can easily sell your produce.
Soil and Water Analysis
You should do a soil and water test. The soil test should show the nutrients’ profile, soil pH and the microbial count. This will show you what to amend in order to have a good crop yield in the greenhouse.
The water should also be tested for its hardness and pH.
Buy and Install the Greenhouse
You should also consider where to buy the greenhouse. We sell good greenhouses that can work in any area in Nigeria.
We also have experts that can help you to design and install the greenhouse.
Recruit Farm Hands
You should note that greenhouse farming needs expertise touch. You need to recruit people who have the expertise and technical knowhow to run and operate a greenhouse farm.
Pest and Disease Control
Pests and diseases should be prevented with the use of appropriate pesticides. Organic and chemical pesticides like insecticides, fungicides, nematicides and acaricides etc. should be used.
Antagonistic microbes can also be used.
You should never wait till harvest time before you start marketing your produce. It is better for you to do your marketing research and know the potential buyers of greenhouse products before you start the greenhouse farming project.
Cost of greenhouse farming in Nigeria
The cost of greenhouse farming is usually significantly higher than the cost of running an open field farming, however, the yield of a greenhouse farm usually compensates for the high cost of setting it up.
The cost of acquiring a 240 square meter size of greenhouse in Nigeria is N2.4 million – N4 million depending on the components or technologies in the greenhouse. The cost of a 1 acre greenhouse will be ordinarily higher than the cost of a 240 SQM greenhouse. You can set up a DIY greenhouse at a cheaper cost but you may not get the desired crop yield because of the defects in DIY greenhouses.
If you are worried about the cost of greenhouse farming, kindly contact us for guidance and quotation.
Cost, Revenue and Profit Analysis of Greenhouse Farming
The indeterminate tomato variety of tomato is usually the tomato variety of choice in greenhouses due to its high yield. This will be taken as a case study here.
An indeterminate tomato variety like Anna F1 can yield up to 30kg per plant. If 1,000 plants of this tomato variety is planted in a greenhouse, the total yield from the greenhouse will be 30 tons (30,000kg).
The expected 30 tons yield from a small greenhouse is the average yield of a 10-hectare tomato farmer in Nigeria. This shows how profitable greenhouse farming can be if done in the right way.
Please note that you can also make a huge loss in greenhouse farming if good agricultural practices are not observed. The scenario painted above is based on a best case.
The onus is on you to conduct a feasibility study on greenhouse farming before you embark on the business or project.
Advantages of greenhouse farming
The advantages of greenhouse farming are:
- Greenhouse farming is high yielding. A small greenhouse can surpass the yield of a large open field farm. It is not uncommon to see small greenhouses of tomato having a crop yield of 30 tons, more than the tomato yield of several hectares of farmland.
- Growing crops in greenhouses can assure a growing season free of pests and diseases unlike growing in the open field.
- Temperature and humidity can be adjusted in greenhouses; this can make a greenhouse farmer grow crops that he would not have been able to ordinarily grow in the open field.
- More crops can be planted in greenhouses, thereby improving the plant density and yield.
- There is efficiency in the use of water and nutrients in a greenhouse as compared to open field cultivation.
- The Returns on Investment (ROI) on greenhouses are in most cases higher than that of open field farming.
Disadvantages of greenhouse farming
The disadvantages of greenhouse farming are:
- Greenhouses can be costly to acquire, however, the yield can offset the high cost of acquisition.
- A greenhouse needs some expertise and knowhow for successful operation. The inadequate number of experts on greenhouse farming is a key risk of greenhouse growing of crops in Nigeria.
How to pollinate plants or crops in a greenhouse
The enclosure called a greenhouse prevents bees and other pollinating insects the access to the greenhouse.
In this case, to pollinate plants in a greenhouse, the farmer has to introduce bees. There are also other artificial pollinators the farmer can use for pollination.
The battery powered pollinator can be used. Also, a brush can be used for pollination.
Where to Buy a Greenhouse in Nigeria
You can buy greenhouses from us. At Veggie Concept, we do not only design and build greenhouses. We sell and install greenhouses around major cities and towns like Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Owerri, Kano, Kaduna, Jos, Maiduguri, Katsina, Ibadan, Abeokuta and anywhere in Nigeria.
The challenges of greenhouse farming
The following are the challenges of greenhouse farming:
FAQ on Greenhouse Farming (Questions and Answers)
Question: Is greenhouse really profitable in Nigeria?
Answer: Yes, greenhouse is profitable if good agronomic practices are observed. You should also buy the right type of greenhouse and sell your greenhouse produce in the right market.
Question: Can a greenhouse be used to grow all types of crops?
Answer: Theoretically, a greenhouse can be used to grow any type of crops. However, I will advise you grow only high value crops in greenhouses.
Question: Can I use a greenhouse to grow temperate crops like strawberry in Nigeria?
Answer: Yes, a greenhouse can be used to grow temperate crops in Nigeria. However, you should use a greenhouse with a climate control technology.
Question: Can I use a greenhouse to extend growing season?
Answer: Yes, a greenhouse can be used to extend the growing season for some crops.
Question: Can I construct a greenhouse myself?
Answer: Yes, you can construct a greenhouse yourself. However, I will advise you buy a ready-made greenhouse as ready-made greenhouses are constructed with precision.
Question: Can a greenhouse be situated anywhere?
Answer: Yes, a greenhouse can be situated anywhere. A greenhouse can be installed on rooftops, fields, car parks and gardens etc.
Do you want to engage in greenhouse farming in Nigeria and you are confused? If yes, why not contact us on 08025141924 or firstname.lastname@example.org for guidance and consultation.