With the constant changes in climatic and weather conditions in Kenya and the world at large, creating an optimum environment for crops and plants helps farmers be sure of their produce at the end of the planting season. Through greenhouses, a farmer can easily create an optimum environment for their crops outside the normal conditions that crops get in the open farm. Therefore, the importance that greenhouses pose to farmers makes valued across the country.
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Green House Installation Stages in Kenya
The process of green house installation in Kenya requires one to move through different stages to make the process effective, efficient and profitable in the end. Thus, this article will slightly provide farmers with information on the stages they need to take to set up and install greenhouses in their farms to maximize production.
Greenhouse Setting and Installation Planning Stage
Before setting up and installing a new greenhouse in a farm, it is prudent for the farmer to first plan the whole process, making some of the most important decisions. The planning stage has series of issues that it addresses include the site selection and location of the site with relation to market, labor, future expansion and other utilities is very important.
At the planning stage, there are various crucial decisions that must be made that will make the project viable and profitable. Before any step is made, the farmer should know the size of the land, the part of the land to be under greenhouse, the type of crops to be grown, the period under which the project should last, the medium of growth, the system to be followed and marketing of the products. Making decisions on these factors are very important in the planning stage.
Greenhouse Installation Site Selection
Before constructing and installing other elements of a green house, selecting the best site will result in the development of a successful and profitable greenhouse system. When selecting a site for constructing a greenhouse, there are several location factors which must be considered before a final decision is made.
The first factor that is considered in site selection process of greenhouses is microclimate of the area selected. There is a shift in horticulture because climatic conditions have also shifted. One factor that primarily limits crop production in greenhouses in light intensity. The site selected should have enough light intensity all the times during the year. This factor can be connected to water availability and quality. Greenhouses operate under irrigation and thus availability of enough quality water is very important. Greenhouses require frequent irrigation hence water should never be problem at all times in order to maximize crop production. Water harvesting areas should have enough quality water for greenhouse production.
The next factor that is considered during site selection is topography of the land. Topography of the land has huge impacts on the structures to be built. The site should be level and if the topography is not level, levelling will be required. To avoid much expenditure in land leveling, it is advisable for a farmer to select an already level land surface. Connected to this is the soil stability of the area selected. The structures of a greenhouse require a stable land that will not collapse once the structure is built. When the land is level and stable, other operations like mechanical controls can easily be attained and conducted.
The other factor which is considered in site selection is windbreaks which can easily reduce the infiltration of cold air outside the greenhouse. These windbreaks can also conduct heat through convection away from the greenhouse. It is also important to note that the speed of wind affects the infiltration rates. For example, wind flowing at 15 miles per hour can easily double the amount of heat loss in a greenhouse. Therefore, the windbreaks should be designed well to reduce the speed of wind by even 50% so that the rate of heat loss from the greenhouse is also reduced by 10%. This means that constructing a greenhouse in an open area is not efficient in the long run.
Infrastructure and room for expansion is a set of other factors that should be considered while selecting a site for greenhouse construction. When acquiring land, the farmer should acquire land which is larger than the current need. Predicting the ultimate size is important as it will give the farmer an opportunity to expand the greenhouse when there is a need in future. This is connected to proximity to transport networks, access to communication systems and availability of energy. Other factors that should be considered during site selection include availability of labor, market accessibility and greenhouse orientation.
Also Read: Greenhouse construction Kenya
Legal Considerations During Greenhouse Installation and Setting in Kenya
There are different and various legal considerations and regulations that comes into play when setting up and installing greenhouses in Kenya. There are certain zones where the operations of a greenhouse can be located and not everywhere. A few regulations that are considered before any action of installation is undertaken include frontage, side yard distances, signs and the number of parking space.
The zoning enforcement officer should be consulted to help check and confirm the zoning procedures to avoid coming into logger heads with the officers. Further, permits and licenses requirements that govern where the greenhouse may be built should be put in place. It is crucial to note that these legal considerations and regulations can dictate the type of building materials that can be used. The effects that the greenhouse will have on the neighbors are usually studied under this phase.
Zoning rules will be important when a greenhouse is proposed to be built in a site near school, hospital or residential community. Regulations also sets in when water from the greenhouse site is drained into parks, farms, or ecological areas where even restricted use of pesticides might be required. The last section of legal considerations is from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ensuring the safety and health of the employees in the site.
Site Layout in Greenhouse Installation and Setting
The layout of the site is the next big issue that farmers and growers are expected to pay close attention to. This involves the different amenities and facilities that are found within the site plus the greenhouse itself. The layout of the site should be such that access to every facility within the site is easy. Thus, the master plan of the facilities should be put in order. The master plan provides a framework for orderly construction of the buildings and should be based on a sound business plan.
When organizing the master plan for the facilities, the process begins with conducting a survey on the already existing facilities within the site and evaluating their benefits and constraints. A new plan comes to play, establishing where the new facilities should be built. The master plan should have plans for propagation and production greenhouses, headhouse, storage and parking. In the plan, the area of outdoor production should be built in a nearby location for easy access, movement of plants and transportation.
Greenhouse Installation and Setting Designing
This step is in close relationship to site layout and greenhouse orientation. The greenhouse should be designed such that accessing other facilities within the site is easy, the pathways between every greenhouse and facilities are put in place and the space left for the greenhouse will allow for proper orientation. Without the best orientation of the greenhouse, the plants and crops will not do well.
The orientation of greenhouse in the field is mostly important during the design stage. This is largely determined by the angle of glazing for the structure. Optimizing for every season within a year is the goal of every farmer who has plans of having the greenhouse operating for more than one season. Therefore, the best orientation for greenhouses is east-west orientation where the shorter side of the greenhouse faces south and north and the longer side faces east and west. The orientation identified will allow angle light from the sun to enter from the side where it will not be blocked by the ribs of the frame. However, when dealing with multi-bay greenhouses, the structural components are put into consideration.
Greenhouse Installation and Setting
After all the steps above have been properly done, the engineers and technicians install the greenhouses in the farm following the already set layout and facilities master plan. During the greenhouse installation stage, the technicians have a duty of determining where the germinating rooms will be set and installed. Germination of the plants and crops can be done on the benches in the greenhouse. However, it is advisable to have a different chamber or room for germination where is the control of heat, fog and lightning for the seedlings.
During the process of installation, the technicians make sure that every aspect of environmental control is handled well. This will include the heating system, cooling systems, conservation of energy, supplemental light and other aspects of controls are put in place. The irrigation system is installed at this stage and should be uniform. With increase in technology, a computerized boom system can be installed to monitor and water different section of the greenhouse at different sections and different rates. Drip irrigation system is the best system for greenhouses.
Farmers should never have problems with the steps that have been highlighted above, at EUNIDRIP IRRIGATION SYSTEM, we help farmers go through the steps. We have technicians and engineers that will help the farmer from the planning stage to greenhouse setting and installation. We also sell all the greenhouse installation equipment at better prices.