When you talk about the intensive system of crop production, then you should think of greenhouse farming. A greenhouse is one of the mediums where large quantities of crops, in the best quality, are produced using a small piece of land area with the aid of some agronomic practices. It is a highly productive system of crop production.
There are some agronomic practices that must be carried out irrespective of the system or scale of farming. They are essential for good growth and high productivity. Agronomic practices are schedule activities aimed at providing a favorable environment for good crop growth and development and an unfavorable environment to control plant pest and diseases. They are preplanting and postplanting operations.
The agronomic practices in a greenhouse are similar in title to the conventional or traditional systems of crop production but they are carried out using different procedures, skills, and technology.
I will be discussing, in details, the agronomic practices that must be carried out in a greenhouse to ensure good yield and better production. They are:
- Soil Treatment In Greenhouse
- Biosecurity In The Greenhouse
- Transplanting Of Greenhouse Crops
- Weeding Of Greenhouse
- Crop Nutrition In Greenhouse
- Pest And Disease Control In A Greenhouse
- Pollination Of Greenhouse Crops
Soil Treatment In Greenhouse
Although not all greenhouses use soil as the growth medium, where the soil is used or to be used, you must ensure the soil is treated. A greenhouse is a controlled environment, all that contains or comprises a greenhouse, such as water, air, soil, etc., must be controlled.
The soil in a greenhouse is an ideal soil gotten from within; it contains several entities, including various soil organisms, some may be beneficial while others are detrimental. In any case, you do not need any of them, you need to get rid of all soil organisms through soil treatment.
Soil can be treated through fumigation, soil solarization, and soil sterilization. Of all these methods, soil sterilization is most effective as it is a broad-spectrum method of soil treatment that does not give room for the survival of any soil organisms.
Soil sterilization involves the application of heat, above 60 degree Celsius to the soil for about 45 minutes. This practice gets rid of all soil organisms, thereby, making the soil fit for greenhouse cultivation.
Biosecurity In The Greenhouse
Biosecurity is very important in an intensive system of production, either livestock or crop production. The first defense mechanism in a greenhouse is biosecurity. It is the cheapest and most effective method of controlling pests and diseases.
Biosecurity in greenhouse involves the use of disinfectants in hand bathtubs and foot deep tubs to facilitate sanitation before accessing the greenhouse; this prevents any biological threat from entering the greenhouse. You can as well use instructional signposts to restrict movement within and outside the greenhouse. Biosecurity is a pivotal part of the success in greenhouse farming.
Transplanting Of Greenhouse Crops
In most case, greenhouse crops are often transplanted from the nursery, where they are initially raised and selected into the greenhouse. Transplanting of crops to the greenhouse is very important because it ensures only healthy growing seeding with good vigor are transplanted.
Every surface area in your greenhouse must be productive, hence, you should not risk the productivity of any area by transplanting weak seedling. Crops planted in the greenhouse are selected for good growth and vigor before transplanting into the greenhouse.
Weeding Of Greenhouse
Weeds are very stubborn in nature. Expect weed as soon as water touches the soil in the greenhouse. Their seeds have high longevity and can remain in the soil for years in expectant of favorable conditions.
Weed invasion is a greenhouse can be controlled easily because the land area is usually small, though the yield is very high. You can control weeds by using preemergence herbicides before transplanting, or manually, using a hoe, before and after transplanting.
Aside from these methods of weed control, you can as well use some non-conventional ways to control weeds such as:
- Covering the surface of the soil, thereby, denying the weeds access to sunlight to facilitate the process of photosynthesis.
- Covering the soil surface with materials like sawdust or wood shavings or any dried material to keep the sun away from the soil.
The use of herbicides after transplanting is not always advised as the herbicide may be injurious to the crops. Beware!
Crop Nutrition In Greenhouse
Fertilization of the crop and soil is very important in greenhouse farming. Immediately after soil treatment, you are supposed to fertilize the soil, by adding decomposed manure or compost manure to the soil. Please ensure the manure you are using is well decomposed because undecomposed or poorly decomposed manure may host pests.
Similarly, you can use synthetic fertilizers in form of NPK to supply some essential nutrients to the soil. The method of fertilizer application in a greenhouse is not the same as used in an open field.
In a drip irrigated greenhouse, it is best to apply the fertilizer through the fertigation method, that is, adding the fertilizers in the irrigation water. Foliar application is also used to apply fertilizer in the greenhouse. They are easy and very effective.
Use compost or manure to replenish the soil fertility and synthetic fertilizers to supply essential nutrients to the soil.
Pest And Disease Control In A Greenhouse
The control of pest is a must in crop production, irrespective of your system of cultivation. Although, pest invasion is usually reduced to below economic threshold in a greenhouse. However, in case of pest emergence, you can use this homemade insecticide or this neem oil pesticide to prevent pests.
You must try as much as possible to avoid the depositions during flood, water, and other particles, into your greenhouse. The location of your greenhouse is one of the crucial factors to be considered before constructing a greenhouse; the environment must not be prone to flooding. Most disease-causing agents enter into the greenhouse through the flood.
In cases of disease emergence in a greenhouse, use this detailed crop rotation principles to control the disease; it is the best method of disease control in a greenhouse. It involves the planting of another crop out of the family of the infected crop.
You can as well use any of these fungicides and bactericide to manage fungal and bacterial diseases respectively. Prune or thin out completely any infected plant to prevent the spread of the disease.
Diseases can be prevented in a greenhouse if stringent biosecurity measure is adopted.
Pollination Of Greenhouse Crops
This is a major agronomic practice in the greenhouse. How do you pollinate crops in a greenhouse?
Pollination is very important in crop production; it is the transfer of the pollen from the male flower to the stigma of the female flower. Without pollination, crops cannot be produced. Crops grown on the open field are freely pollinated by pollination agents, chiefly honey bees and other insects. Pollination agents are not present in the greenhouse because they can host pest and disease pathogens.
Pollination in a greenhouse is achieved in two ways, the mechanical method and chemical method. The mechanical method is the common method but the chemical method can be used where the mechanical method is absent.
Pollination can be achieved mechanically using Electric vibrator and Air Blower. These two methods facilitate the transfer of the pollen to the stigma at some specific period of the day, usually during the sunny part of the day.
The electric vibrator is the best method; it has a wire that is placed in contact with the flower clusters, usually fully opened. The vibrator shakes the pollen and allows it to fall into the stigma for fertilization to take place.
Similarly, the air blower is moved between the rows and a stream of air is directed towards the flower clusters to allow mature pollens drop into the stigma.
The chemical method involves the use of fruit-setting hormones like Auxins and Gibberellins; they are available for commercial use. These hormones are sprayed at a specific period; they stimulate fruiting in greenhouse crops.
A greenhouse produces crops in high quantity and good quality only when these agronomic practices are carried out duly. If you want to set up a greenhouse for farming, I recommend these agronomic practices to enable the smooth running of your production. You can as well download these Greenhouse farming pdf for your private use.
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