Wed. Sep 23rd, 2020

Supporting Farmers

The complete guide to greenhouse farming plus costs-MkulimaTODAY.co.ke

8 min read


This is one of the fastest growing methods of farming in Kenya as a result of the “I am a cool farmer” farming frenzy.

Green house farming is done inside specific structures.

The structures can be made out of either wood or metallic materials as the frames and covered with polythene.

The polythene is added so as to reduce the intensity of the sun by a considerable margin giving the plants the right atmosphere to develop.

Why use greenhouses

This type of farming has several benefits in the production of farm produce.

Here are some of the benefits I have listed for you but not limited to the list:-

  • Better use of land
  • Improves plants productivity
  • Reduces water loss
  • Easier control of pests and diseases
  • Low of maintenance costs

Construction

Build in an open area clear of trees or buildings that can block the direct sunlight from reaching the greenhouse.

The location should be flat and experiences low wind speeds and not so strong.

Types of green houses

There are different types of greenhouses available in the market.

The most common types include

  • Single tunnel green houses
  • Multi tunnel green houses and
  • saw teeth green houses

Types of plants

The three most common types of plants that do well in green house farming are

  • Capsicum
  • Flowers and
  • Matango

Irrigation

Drip irrigation is the most suitable way to water your plants if practicing greenhouse farming, though overhead irrigation can also be applied.

Drip irrigation enables water to be delivered directly to the roots of each plant. This reduces wastage of water as well as reduces the growth of weeds by cutting the water supply to the unwanted plants.

Water is delivered in small quantities. This is at an average of about 2 and 10 liters that is distributed to the plants in an hour.

This is achieved by the use of drip lines.

You want to make sure the drips are close to the plants.

This ensures only small surface of the soil gets watered.

Plants grown under greenhouse farming method produces better yields as compared to those grown under open field farming.

In an 8×15 green house I estimate you will use about 500 liters in irrigation.

Benefits of drip irrigation

  • You use a smaller volume of water
  • Few staff required during production on your farm
  • Each plant receives the same amount of  water

The best time for you to get involved in irrigation is in the morning before the sun rises and evening before the sun sets.

Though some plants like watermelon should not be irrigated in the evening since the fruits lie on the ground.

The fruits on the ground might rot as a result of the exposure to water leading to huge losses.

Luckily you don’t need to farm watermelon under greenhouse farming since it does very well in open field farming.

I would not recommend watering during the day since the soil temperatures are very high and irrigation will not achieve your intended goal.

You should can do irrigation on any farm, but I recommend not on steep ground since this will be counterproductive.

Steep slopes will make the water flow away with ease leaving the plant with no water or little.

One of the main challenges you will face in drip irrigation is the blockage of the drip lines.

Plants in the greenhouses are planted on ridges and the drip lines should be as close as possible to the plant roots.

The drip holes are between 0.2mm and 2mm and can be easily blocked by soil particles from dirty water.

At all times ensure the water flowing through your drip lines is clean and free of obstacles that might do damages  and result in losses in case of a blockage.

Farming

At all times you must ensures there is good air circulation in the green house.

Many famers like yourself are interested in starting out in green house farming.

Either because their friends, neighbor is doing green house farming or because it is cool and they want to feed their egos.

But always remember this is not a beauty contest.

For success to be harvested blood and sweat must be produces while time must be measured.

I would recommend you do the following.

  • Know what you need to produce
  • Use hybrid seeds
  • Ensure your seeds are certified

Certified seeds will guarantee you a good harvest and for a longer period of time as compared to the other uncertified seeds.

For plants with weak stems for example tomatoes ensure there is support that you provide.

This can be done either by use of strings or wooden structures.

I recommend you use wood and string because of the ease of maintenance and the ease of control against pests and diseases.

Pruning

You should follow the pruning schedule of your farm religiously.

Pruning of the farm is important.

This is because it helps you get rid of unnecessary leaves that would otherwise reduce production due to the huge shade created.

The shade is not good since it reduces the penetration of the sun rays that is vital to the development of the plant.

There are several plant varieties that you can farm under the green house method of food production.

These are the types of plants I would recommend you include in the green house.

  • Vegetables
  • Flowers and
  • Fruits (like strawberries)

Help

Always remember you need to visit your farm as regularly as possible to help you deal with issues on the farm as soon as they occur.

This works for dealing with pests and diseases as well as boosting production on your farm.

Before entering your greenhouse always

  • Wash your hands
  • Clean your shoes
  • Close the doors at all times
  • No smoking in and around the green house

Management

  • Close the doors to the green house at all times
  • Restrict entry into the green house
  • Pruning should be done at the right time and consistently over time
  • Use strings for plants like tomatoes with weak stems
  • Since there is no wind to facilitate pollination, ensure there is a way you can achieve this by shaking the plants or use of bees among other ways.

A good environment is the key to your plants growing well and leading to the desired harvests.

The needs of a particular plant you farm and the proper use of the green house are the two factors that will guarantee a good harvest.

These are some of the factors in green house farming

  • Average heat
  • Good sunlight
  • Moisture and
  • Availability of nutrients in the soil

There are millions in shillings to be earned in green house farming, remember it is not easy.

Speak to an expert and attend trainings in order to boost your greenhouse experience.

After all experience is the best teacher.

You can also visit farmers, talk to experts, read books or detailed articles like this to get all the information you need.

Harvesting

The main reason to do greenhouse farming is to ensure you have a longer harvesting period as compared to open field farming.

This is the reason why you need certified hybrid seeds.

For the harvesting period you will have to look at the type and quality of seeds you use.

Green house harvesting for example tomatoes can last for a period of  2 and half  months after transplantation  to  6 months.

You should not harvest your vegetables during the day due to the high heat levels.

After harvesting store the produce in a cool area with proper ventilation/air circulation.

For a small green house of 8×15 and about 120m2 you can harvest an average of 30 tons a year with two seasons.

Challenges

  • Green house construction.

 Ensure whoever is installing your greenhouse knows what they are doing

  • Region of construction.

Do your research before you get started .

  • Diseases.

Maintain high levels of bio security to ensure harvests

  • Soil and water test/analysis.

Speak to an expert before you start out and know the best pesticides to use

  • Seeds.

Use certified seeds at all times

Production estimates

This figures are a guideline on the production costs and might vary from region to region.

Seeds                                                16,000

Pesticides                                           8,000

Fertilizer                                            4,000

Water                                               16,000

Experts advise                                   4,000

Maintenance                                     16,000

Total                                                 64000

Estimated harvesting   is 18 tons or about 15 crates.

The production duration is between 6 to 10 months

Estimated profits is about Kshs 320,000.

Having an agribusiness question? Do you know of a successful agribusiness venture or story that you wish to share? I would like to hear from you. Send me the TIP(s) at team@mkulimatoday.co.ke

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