Wednesday July 16 2014

Making the most from greenhouses


Farmers have a variety of constraints ranging from weather, soil types and water scarcity among other issues. The population keeps increasing, the land size remains fixed, and yet like in the case of Uganda, about 80 per cent of the population is involved in agriculture.
Greenhouse farming can help beat such odds.

What is a green house?
According to Rita Amolo, the Irrigation Manager at Balton, a greenhouse is a structure that is created to provide perfect micro climate (by creating right levels of warmth, and prevent harsh environment, insects and fungal attacks) for optimum plant productivity. She says the structure ranges from small shades to industrial structures.

Greenhouse farming, Amolo explains, is simply growing crops in built structures with different types of covering such as plastic roofs, walls and glass but the most common one is plastic roofs.
She explains that there are two types of greenhouse farming. The first one is a type where crops are grown directly in the soil on open space whereby the plants may be susceptible soil born diseases.
The second type is one where crops are grown in artificial enclosed systems such as cockpits, vermiculite and so many others which are disease free and they require controlled fertiliser application through irrigation.

Ms Amolo says, if one cannot be in position to buy the green house with the whole farmers kit, one can still go for the Family Drip Irrigation System which she says is very effective for open field crops and as well as the small green houses.

How to set up a greenhouse
Location. Ms Amolo says a farmer planning to erect a greenhouse may approach Balton where they are offered an officer to help survey the land where they want to set up a greenhouse. The officer will ensure that the green house is put in an area where the house receives sufficient sun light for the healthy growth of the crops.

Crop knowledge. The prospective implementer of the green house is meant to know what type of crop they are going to grow.
Propose the structure. She says the farmer proposes the type of green house structure they want and they are advised accordingly depending on what they want to grow. Funds. Make sure you have enough funds to buy the necessary equipments required for the green house.

Weather. The weather is of great importance in the green house farming because it provides the ideal environment for crops to grow, for instance, farmers in countries that experience winter have to set up a covered green house to provide warmth to the crops whereas countries like Uganda have both the green houses and the shades.

Water. Ms Amolo says availability of water on site for irrigation is very important since plants in a greenhouse depend solely on irrigation.
Amolo says farmers need a kit that rests on three pillars: 1) Knowledge,
2) know how (the way to implement the knowledge of modern agriculture techniques)
3)Very high quality inputs. These she says have been the foundations of the philosophy and the drive behind the amazing success story of green house farming.