Greenhouse Farming and Its Impact on Sustainable Food Production

Greenhouse Farming and Its Impact on Sustainable Food Production

Everything has evolved, including farming. Farming, as we know, involves the cultivation of crops and/or rearing of animals. That has not changed, but the way it is been done has. The change is necessary to meet the increasing food demand and to curb the effect of climate change on food security.

The current world population of over 7 billion people is estimated to increase to 9.8 billion by 2050. How would we solve this looming problem of food insecurity if sustainable and innovative approaches such as greenhouse farming are not employed? Technology has, however, offered a solution through greenhouse farming. So, if you want to learn what greenhouse farming is, its importance, and its impact on sustainable food production, then this article is for you. Now, let's consider what greenhouse farming is.

What is a Greenhouse?

A greenhouse is an enclosed structure for growing plants. It consists of frames covered with transparent materials, glass or polyethylene, built to create a safe and controlled environment for plants. A greenhouse can provide the following for plants;

    Control of excessive heat through cooling systems and/or provision of heat to control extreme cold conditions.

    Light control through shading or provision of supplemental light.

    Irrigation management (water and plant nutrients supply).

    Control of carbon dioxide level.

    Control against pests and disease.

There are various types of greenhouses and the choice is determined by location and crops to be grown. The structure varies in size, height, style, and even components. But irrespective of the style and material chosen for greenhouse setup, basic factors that allow for optimum plant growth must be considered and these include, proper ventilation, light penetration/supply, protection against pests etc.

In all, a greenhouse should not hinder the growth and development of a plant, rather, it should enhance the growth by creating a safe and better environment for plants. Greenhouse structures and facilities are reusable and durability depends on the materials used and the quality of such materials. Read about the types, variability, and cost estimation of greenhouses here.

Also, note that the greenhouse is not only used by commercial growers, it can be used by individuals to grow plants for consumption or horticultural purposes. If greenhouse farming is embraced by more farmers, the issue of food insecurity will soon be overcome, and sustainable food production will be attainable.

What is greenhouse farming and how does it impact sustainable food production?

Greenhouse farming is an innovative farming model and a tool for achieving sustainable food production. It can also be described as a system that allows the cultivation of crops in a protected environment with enclosed structures, away from extreme weather conditions, pests and diseases, and other unfavorable factors. These unfavorable factors that have now been addressed by greenhouse farming usually lead to a reduction in yield quality and quantity in conventional farming. This ultimately affects the quality of produce and the projected income of the farmer, thereby hindering sustainable production.

Also, varieties of crops can now be grown in their unnatural regions without compromising on their quality. That is, desirable crops can now be produced without hindrance. This is attainable because all that the crop requires can be introduced through greenhouse technology. For instance, tropical crops can now be grown in cold regions while temperate crops can be grown in hot regions.

Greenhouse farming has also helped farmers by incorporating precision farming in the greenhouse. Farmers can now accurately determine plant requirements, when it is needed, and what quantity is required for optimum growth. Otherwise, the result will be low-quality produce and/or unnecessary costs in some cases.

Benefits of Greenhouse Farming

As a result of its numerous advantages over conventional farming, greenhouse farming is now widely adopted. In addition to the ones discussed above, what other benefits are there in greenhouse farming?

    Plants can be grown all year round. That is, crops are no longer considered seasonal as they can be available at all times due to continuous production made possible by greenhouse farming.

    Protection from unfavorable climatic factors. Extreme weather conditions such as frost, rain, storm, wind, and temperature affect crops and lead to loss of crops or reduction in crop quality.

      Control of pests and diseases. Aside from extreme weather conditions, pests and diseases can lead to the loss of crops. However, using a control measure such as greenhouse farming keeps the crops away from the attack of pests and diseases.

    Access to fresh and quality produce. Crops can be grown within the cities in large quantities. With this, there will be no loss in the quality of produce resulting from the transportation of produce over long distances between the farm and the city.

    Efficiency and conservation of resources. Greenhouse farming helps farmers to determine plant requirements in the right dosage including water, nutrients, pesticides, etc. This prevents unnecessary costs and helps to maximize minimal resources.

    Access to safe and healthy food. When the attack of pests and diseases is prevented, it reduces the use of pesticides on crops thereby resulting in safe produce. Also, the application of the right dosage of nutrients to plants supplies the right nutrition to the body when the produce is consumed.

    Yield and profit maximization. Greenhouse farming helps plants to produce more, increases the quality, hence, the value of produce, and reduces loss of produce using the best greenhouse practices. All of these results increase the profitability of farmers compared to open-field farming.

    Land maximization. Greenhouse technology helps farmers maximize land space for food production, especially in vertical farming systems. Here, plants are grown and stacked vertically to maximize space. That is, multiple crops are grown in layers allowing more crops to be produced on a small area of land.

Continuous production, one of the benefits discussed above, which is also a key element in sustainable food production can be achieved through greenhouse farming. Having learned the benefits of greenhouse farming, here's a bonus lesson on what a greenhouse is about. It is important to know this if you intend to adopt greenhouse technology.

Dr. Shani Kumar
Assistant Professor
School of Agriculture
Sanjeev Agrawal Global Educational (SAGE) University Bhopal

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