For decades, greenhouses have been the standard go-to for farmers and entrepreneurs who want to invest in eco-friendly farming and make a living out of it. Greenhouse farming took the world by storm until people soon started finding glass, from which the enclosure of the greenhouse is made to be quite unaffordable.
Glass prices were rising, and everybody wanted a piece of the cake, but it was simply too expensive to build a greenhouse on a commercially functional and sustainable scale.
See also: Are you aware of the Greenhouse and types of Greenhouses?
Polyhouse farming: Meaning
Polyhouse farming takes the concept of greenhouse farming and slightly alters one key material, which is glass. It replaces glass in standard greenhouse farming with polyethene. This drastically reduces investment costs and has a similar ROI to that of greenhouse farming. It also reduces the cost of maintenance and set-up.
Since its emergence, polyhouse farming has taken up the agriculture world by storm, especially in places like India, where farming is an essential contributor to the country’s GDP and farmers don’t earn a lot through generic farming.
Polyhouse farming has enabled farmers to cultivate and grow several types of plants on the same piece of land and maintain them easily, which in turn, helps them earn more profits without spending a lot of time or effort.
One more reason polyhouse farming is accessible and affordable is that people can set up polyhouses in smaller areas too. Greenhouses need larger areas to function properly and a lot of more expensive materials as well.
Polyhouse farming: Types
Polyhouses can be categorised into two types on the basis of various factors.
Natural ventilation polyhouse
As the name suggests, a naturally-ventilated polyhouse has natural ventilation and a fogger system that helps keep pests, diseases and insects away. Naturally-ventilated polyhouses are primarily geared towards dying plants that are in grave danger and need immediate attention but can be used as a normal polyhouse as well. These types of polyhouses are cheap and affordable.
Environmentally-regulated polyhouses are more suitable for annual crop production. This is because an environmentally regulated polyhouse can maintain factors like temperature difference, humidity, ventilation, etc., which are essential in farming.
There are three different types of environmentally-regulated polyhouses:
- Lower-tech polyhouse: As the name suggests, lower-technology polyhouses are made with cost-effective materials like shade nets. These do an effective job of protecting crops from cold climates.
- Medium-tech polyhouse: A medium-tech polyhouse consists of heavier machinery as well. It uses fans which are made out of galvanised iron.
- High-technology polyhouse: A high-tech polyhouse has machine-based control systems to maintain temperature and humidity inside the enclosure. These systems work year-round to ensure the proper functioning of the polyhouse.
Polyhouse farming: Benefits
- Crops can be produced readily in an administered environment. This helps ease the transition from open farming to polyhouse farming.
- Crops can be grown throughout the year, irrespective of seasons.
- A polyhouse has only one entrance and is covered from all sides. This makes plants inaccessible to pests, diseases and insects.
- The outside climate does not hinder plant growth.
- Higher quality byproducts.
- Sanitation inside the polyhouse can be maintained effortlessly.
- The application of fertilisers is simplified as it can be done through drip irrigation.
- Ventilation is provided without the gripes of pests and insects.
- Uniform plant growth throughout its life.
- Higher crop yield.
- Easier crop harvesting.
- Easier propagation of plants.
Polyhouse farming: Disadvantages
Like any other farming method, even the process of polyhouse farming comes at a cost of the following disadvantages:
- Limited control over airflow, which limits the farmer’s options too.
- Naturally ventilated polyhouses are costlier when it comes to the cost of materials and labour due to their taller footprint.
- High-quality materials have to be used, which increases the cost. Low-quality materials can increase the risk of wear and tear in heavy weather, which can lead to the crops getting damaged.
- A polyhouse is used to grow different plants with their own unique watering needs, this makes irrigation a difficult task.
Is polyhouse farming profitable?
If done right, polyhouse farming can be 100% profitable. Keep in mind that even though it is much cheaper, polyhouses can cost around Rs. 1,00,00,000 in total costs.
What type of polyethene is used in a low-technology polyhouse?
A UV stabilised film of 200µ is used for the roof, and a 75% shade net is used for the sides. These metrics can depend on the type of climate your region has but can be taken as a base value.
Why is polyhouse farming so popular in India?
Polyhouse farming has taken the Indian agricultural sector by storm since its discovery. This is so because it ensures a 100% ROI without investing as much as you would need to invest in other farming methods and still get exponentially larger profits, given proper guidelines are followed.