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Greenhouse Operation and Management

A greenhouse is a building with the plastic or glass roof, and often plastic or glass walls as well. The plants, soil and other things inside the greenhouse get heated up by the solar radiation, and the plastic or glass structure makes sure that the heated up air stays inside building. A greenhouse can be a very large building, or just of the size of a small shed. The productivity and efficiency of the greenhouse is mainly dependent on the type of structure used, and each structure has advantages and disadvantages of its own.

There are many aspects involved in greenhouse operation and management including taking care of the greenhouse heating requirement, diagnosing nutritional deficiencies, monitoring the quality of irrigation water, growing pH and media, fertilizing crops, managing soluble salts, treating and recycling irrigation runoff and treating irrigation water. For most commercial greenhouse producers, cost of purchasing and operating the heating equipment is high, and they have to ensure that the heating system is efficiently designed. Oil, coal and gas are commonly used for heating the greenhouse, and choice is mainly based on the economics. For commercial greenhouse production, many different types of thermostats and environmental controllers can be used.

One of the most critical aspects of producing the greenhouse crops is to provide the adequate nutrition. The growth of plants in the greenhouse depends on several factors, and application of fertilizer is a critical element. Though in some cases the nutrients are supplied at the peak perlids of growth, it is also been observed that regular feed of soluble fertilizer at each irrigation is a good system for plant growth optimization. Diagnosing the nutritional deficiencies is critical to maintain the optimum plant growth, and the symptoms are usually dependent on the stage of growth, species of the plant and many other controlling factors.

The quality of water used directly affects the production of nursery and greenhouse crops. High soluble salts in irrigation water sometimes require drastic action. To combat adverse effects of alkalinity/high pH and optimize fertility, sometimes the irrigation water needs to be treated with acid. In the greenhouse industry, there is always a threat of potential contamination of surface and groundwater, and greenhouse operation and management will rely heavily on the use of pesticides and fertilizers to get good quality crops.

The production of crops in the greenhouse gets affected by presence of excessive soluble salts that result from bad quality of irrigation water, however, these salts can be managed so that their effect on the crops can be minimized. To have the effective irrigation management plan, it is essential to have the balance between plant’s needs and growing medium. Research has shown that most growers are usually concerned about insufficient water in the medium, however, overwatering is more common and hazardous to the plant growth.