How greenhouse farming is a sustainable agricultural option?
Sustainability is the key to a better future. In the modern developing world, the living population is adopting new technologies and methods, and greenhouse farming is one of them. When we talk about the sustainability of the agriculture sector, we meant to resource optimal, adaptable, economically viable, nutritionally adequate, socially justifiable and environmentally sound agriculture.
Greenhouse farming has all the characteristic which makes it a sustainable agriculture option. We will look closely, what are the things which makes greenhouse farming sustainable, and why it’s great for today’s farming community.
1. Efficient Management of Climatic factors for a Higher Yield
If you have visited a greenhouse, the first thing you may have noticed that the temperature and humidity inside are different from outside. It is possible by the use of various equipment such as humidifiers, fans, cooling pads, temperature monitors, carbon dioxide sensors, humidity monitors, climate control units, etc.
The main aim of any greenhouse is to provide the growing plants with an optimum environment as much as possible so that they can reach their best.
Each crop has different optimum temperatures and for each stage of their development as well. Such climate management is not possible in an open field. The benefit of climate management can be also seen when crops show better growth which results in a higher yield at the end of the season.
2. Sustainable Cultivation Techniques
In a protected environment, a grower can grow their crops by several techniques. One commercial cultivation technique that is extensively adopted by greenhouse farmers is the hydroponics growing technique.
The hydroponic system is one of the most sustainable and crop cultivation systems as it reduces the consumption of water and nutrients up to 80 %. The best thing about this system is that there is no soil required, and crops get all the essential nutrients from a formulated nutrient solution.
Another system that is more efficient than hydroponics is aeroponics. This system needs more capital and maintenance to operate. In aeroponics, the plant roots are always in direct contact to a mist of nutrient mixture, which is the source for their water and nutrients requirement.
3. Integrated Pest and Disease Management to Minimize Crop Lose
Integrated Pest and Disease Management have a whole field of science under it. In simple words, it has an integrated approach for the long-term prevention of pests and disease.
Seeing green and healthy vegetables grow in a greenhouse sometimes might make you think that how these crops growing inside are different from those raising outside in fields, integrated pest and disease management have a combination of techniques which made this possible.
Most of the varieties used in greenhouse farming are resistant varieties, but in the case of pest infestation, the biological control method is preferable. In this method, a grower introduces the natural enemies to the pest population in the greenhouse. Biocontrol also prevents the use of hazardous chemical pesticides for controlling the pest.
4. Improved Nutritional Quality of Crops
Nutritionally adequate food is a characteristic of sustainable agriculture and crops that are grown in the greenhouse have higher nutritional value than traditionally grown. Greenhouse provides the optimum growing environment for the crop by continuous monitoring and management of internal micro-climate.
Unethical use of chemical pesticides from a long time in the fields has drastically reduced the nutritional quality of crop grown on them and has also reduced its soil quality. In the era of development, a nutritious diet becomes crucial for a healthy and disease-free living.
5. Higher Productivity than the Traditional Farming Method
A greenhouse can produce 3-4 times more when compared to a traditional farm. There are many reasons for higher production, but one of the main reasons is the planting density. When a plant grows in a hydroponics or aeroponics system, its roots won’t need to reach far for nutrients because they are getting the nutrients within their reach. Smaller root size allows more plants to be grown densely in a greenhouse.
The crops have much less chance of disease infection inside a greenhouse, and this guarantees higher production by the end of a season. Many growers are using the vertical farming method in their greenhouse nowadays, which allows them to utilize the vertical space of their greenhouse.