Access to safe and witnessed food is an integral part of the experience of living in an Eco habitat. The farming practices followed in our eco habitats take a localization approach to cultivation. This means as much as possible crops which are suitable to the local climatic conditions are grown. Ensuring that the quantity, quality and variety of farm produce is improved has been our constant endeavour. To this end we have been experimenting with new methods of natural farming as well as newer technologies. One such technology/ practice is farming in a Greenhouse or a polyshed.
It is a well known fact that cultivating crops in a controlled environment improves the quality and quantity of the produce for a given area when compared with growing crops outside in the normal field. But most of the studies undertaken are for chemical based farming. So we decided to test cultivation using natural farming methods in a Greenhouse. We procured a greenhouse solution from “Kheyti” after reviewing various other greenhouse solutions available as it was easy to install, maintain and operate. The Greenhouse has been installed in our upcoming community of Organo Antharam to conduct various experiments and record the outcomes. The greenhouse covers an area of 476 Square meters and has a height of 4 meters. Out of the various greenhouse solutions that Kheyti offered, we chose this model as it was the right size to test multiple crops. Also, it is close to 1/10th of an acre (1 Acre = 4046 Square meters), which means once the methodology is established for growing crops in natural farming in this greenhouse, replicating and scaling the same to cover larger areas becomes easy.
Inside the Greenhouse at Organo Antharam.
Outside the Greenhouse at Organo Antharam
Setting up the Greenhouse:
The greenhouse is a simple structure with 34 meters length, 14 meters width and 4 meters height. As shown in the picture 2, the structure consists of metal pillars supporting the canopy which is made from a tough material known as “Aluminate”. Holding the metal pillars in position are wire cables which are pegged to the ground by metal rod anchors.
First step in setting up the Greenhouse is to prepare the base on which the entire structure stands. The stones and other uneven features are cleared and the ground is made level. The soil inside the Greenhouse needs to be specially mixed and treated to ensure best possible yield. To do this a soil mix of 2 portions of fine red soil and 1 portion of sand along with dried sheep manure was laid at a height of 2 feet from the ground level.
Once the soil is laid, pits are dug to house the metal pillars and then the aluminate sheet is fixed on top. The Greenhouse solution has two layers of the Aluminate sheet. One is fixed and forms the outer shell and the other is inside just beneath the roof with a gap of 3 feet. This second sheet can be moved using strings manually and helps in controlling the amount of light and temperature in the greenhouse.
Second layer of Aluminate sheet, helps in temperature and light control.
The water supply in the greenhouse is done through a series of drip irrigation lines which are connected to a water tank and motor system to pump water. A system known as “venturi” is used near the water tank to mix the bio fertilisers such as Jeevamrutham so that it directly reaches the root zone of the crops through drip system.
This is how we set up the greenhouse at Organo Antharam. Stay tuned for future as we present our findings with respect to production methods, types of crops suitable for greenhouse cultivation and provide details about the setup and operation of the Greenhouse and advantages we have observed over the last 1 year of operation.