Greenhouse construction Kenya has been a lucrative business for many farmers whom have ventured into this type of farming.
Over the last couple of years, the world has been facing global food crisis and Kenya is no exception. The food insecurity in Kenya has been accelerated by drought and famine. That notwithstanding, the climate has changed drastically, and it’s mainly characterized by dry seasons.
Such situations lead to most farmers suffering because of poor soil nutrition and water shortages, which are poor conditions for food production. As a result, farmers are now looking towards greenhouse construction Kenya to allow them to grow crops during both wet and dry seasons.
Greenhouses constructions Kenya have proven an effective alternative to increase productivity for both small scale and large scale farmers. Besides, greenhouses can help improve their livelihoods and promote food security in Kenya.
Farmers can construct either plastic-covered or permanent glass greenhouses that create a suitable environment for growing healthy crops all year round. The growth of crops in these structures is promoted by good irrigation systems, plus the temperature is mechanically controlled.
The benefits of growing plants in a greenhouse construction Kenya
Over time, farmers have come to realize that there are plenty of benefits of growing plants in a greenhouse through greenhouse construction in Kenya, especially with the uncertainty in climate change lately. However, before you carry out your greenhouse construction Kenya, you have to conduct adequate research to ensure that you will reap some of the following benefits.
- A greenhouse delivers an extended growing season
- There are consistency and reliability in food production
- You can plant a variety of crops in a greenhouse
- It allows you to control the growth environment, humidity levels, and soil easily
- A greenhouse makes it easy for you to control insect and animal infestation
Factors to consider to decide on whether you need to buy or build a greenhouse Kenya
When you set your mind to do greenhouse farming thus greenhouse construction in Kenya, you need to consider if a building or buying a structure is the right way to go. But first, you need to consider where you wish to place your greenhouse to establish if you have adequate space to grow the crop that you want.
However, before you come to the decision of whether to buy or carry out greenhouse construction Kenya, you have to ask yourself a couple of things. First, you need the type and variety of plants that you wish to grow in your greenhouse and the space that they will require.
Additionally, you need to consider if you have a tree nearby that can provide shade and if it sheds its leaves during certain seasons.
Greenhouse construction factors to be considered continuation
You also need to consider the material to use in the construction; particularly, the foundation. Moreover, you need to asses if the soil in the space that you have has good drainage or whether you need to come up with a water recycling system. That notwithstanding, you need to know if the area where you would like to set up your greenhouse has adequate water and if there is electrical connectivity within the area.
Most importantly, you need to consider your budget, and then decide which option works best for you. Is it building or buying? Apart from the cost, you need to know that greenhouses need to be constructed in a particular way to ensure that your crops will grow as expected. You have to position your greenhouse where it will receive optimal sunlight exposure during the day. It is recommended that greenhouses receive about 6 hours of sunlight every day.
Apart from the natural light from the sun, you must also install energy-efficient lights when it comes to greenhouse construction Kenya. Before you decide between buying and building your greenhouse, you must also consider the design of the greenhouse. Do you want an all-in-one structure, or do you want a greenhouse that features your own design? If it is the latter, then you’re better off building your own structure. You can also customize it to suit your specific requirements.
However, if you are looking to establish it as a side business, then you are better off buying an already-established structure. Interestingly, there are various companies in Kenya that lease greenhouses to interested parties for a certain period. Some of those who have ventured into this business claim that it is quite profitable although, these are just claims.
How to get started in greenhouse construction Kenya
When you decide whether to buy or build your greenhouse, you’ve already figured out the space that you require for growing the crop you have in mind. It’s crucial that you consider your greenhouse as a long-term investment. Consequently, you need to have adequate space that will accommodate the plants that you would like to grow in the years ahead.
Greenhouse construction Kenya also needs to match up to the type of plant you wish to grow. For instance, if you wish to grow vegetables, your greenhouse should have a lot of headroom, plus it needs to receive maximum light.
You also have to decide on the style of the greenhouse that you want. There exist several styles, and some can even get built in one day. Here are some of the different styles that you could settle for based on your budget limits and needs.
Freestanding greenhouse construction Kenya
Such types of greenhouses is stand-alone structures; therefore, you can place these structures where you would like on your property, but you have to ensure that the position you place your structure receives enough lighting. You can grow plenty of plants in this type of greenhouses, and you can start growing your plants as early as January.
Attached/lean-to greenhouse construction Kenya
You could also go for this style of greenhouses. Such greenhouses don’t require you to build all the four walls. However, one of the walls needs to be sturdy such as the wall of your house so that you can construct the three remaining sides to be lighter.
Due to their construction design, attached greenhouses are less expensive to construct compared to other styles. You can use such structured to grow seedlings and herbs. A major downside with the attached greenhouses is that sunlight only comes in from three sides.
Your greenhouse construction Kenya should feature one of these styles, but that’s entirely dependent on the crop(s) that you would like to grow. It is also recommended that you refrain from building your greenhouse near coniferous trees. Those are trees that don’t shed their leaves during the cold season in Kenya, blocking the little sunlight that is available.
You can also place your greenhouse structure on any surface. However, you have to ensure that you construct it in an area that has good drainage. You can place a layer of landscape cloth where you intend to place your greenhouse. Doing so not only allows proper drainage but also keeps the weeds out.
Greenhouse accessories for greenhouse construction Kenya
Apart from the frame and exterior structure of the greenhouse, you need to know that there are accessories that have to go into a greenhouse to ensure that your crops grow as you would like. However, the accessories you put greatly depend on your budget allocations as they could get pricey at times.
You need to consider what you really need in your greenhouse, and the accessories that you could place during your greenhouse construction in Kenya include a heating system, automatic vents, shelving, a fan, a mist system, and a rack among other accessories.
How do you prepare for your first growing season?
Now that you’ve already set up your greenhouse, including the accessories you want, you have to prepare for the growing season, but that also depends on the type of plant that you would like to grow in your greenhouse.
If it is your first time dealing with a greenhouse, then you need to start off with straight-forward crops instead of going for complicated crops without the experience. You will find that most greenhouse farmers in Kenya start with vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, leafy greens, and turnips among others. It is also advisable for you to group together plants that have a similar growth cycle so that you can organize your planting season accordingly.
You should also know that not all the seeds that you plant will germinate. That’s why it is advisable for you to plant more seeds than you would expect to grow. Doing so will help you save a significant amount of time, which you would otherwise spend transplanting. On the other hand, if you are planting crops that climb vertically such as tomatoes, then you need to plant them on a raised platform on your greenhouse’s floor. A bench could also serve as a suitable alternative.
Usually, experts advise against using pesticides in greenhouses as they could compromise the quality of produce, but there are some greenhouse owners who still use pesticides. Instead of using pesticides, you need to ensure that your greenhouse construction Kenya is done to perfection. A well-constructed greenhouse has measures in place to prevent entry by pests.
You can install insect screens on the exhausts and air intakes of your greenhouse to prevent insects and or mites from getting into your greenhouse. Furthermore, you need to ensure that the equipment you use in your greenhouse isn’t used anywhere else to prevent cross-contamination, which could result in the presence of insects and diseases in your structure.
A majority of greenhouse owners in Kenya prefer using organic fertilizers as opposed to manufactured products. If you find natural fertilizer, then you’re in a better position. However, there are some situations where you may need to get manufactured fertilizer to deliver the nutrients your crops need.
Greenhouse construction Kenya should never be done without considering environmental control. You must keep in mind that a greenhouse is a place where you grow your crops under a controlled environment. One of the things you need to do in your greenhouse is heating. You have to insulate your greenhouse to ensure that your crops receive the heat they need even when there is no sunlight. One can find different types of heaters available, which are powered by different means. You must also ensure that the heating system in your greenhouse has an automatic shut-off feature.
Shading is also a requirement when it comes to greenhouses. Shade comes in handy when the sun is too warm and it is hitting the greenhouse directly. You can get roll-up screens of aluminum or wood, polypropylene shade cloth, or paint-on materials to provide the necessary shading during such times.
Your greenhouse must also have proper ventilation. Why is ventilation so important? Well, it is because plants also get hot, and the vents will allow proper circulation of air, preventing any damage from coming to your plants. Proper ventilation also minimizes the risk of various plant diseases.
Challenges that may be faced on greenhouse construction Kenya
Setting up a greenhouse in Kenya does not only provide farmers with positive results. It also has its challenges. Some of the main challenges include:
Temperature and humidity
Greenhouse farmers in Kenya fail to get good harvests as a result of temperature and humidity. Sometimes, these conditions may go too high or lower than the required levels for plants to grow. The perfect temperature should range between 16 and 30 degrees Celsius during the day and 13 to 18 degrees Celsius at night. Anything below or past that could cause issues. Proper ventilation could help counter this challenge.
Loss of soil fertility
farmers also complain that poor soil fertility affects crop productivity. However, you can counteract this issue by rotating your crops, treating the soil, or adopting technology such as growing crops in pots.
Pests and diseases
managing pests and diseases is a great challenge among greenhouse farmers in Kenya. They can affect productivity in a major way, and they could be hard to get rid of. However, you can limit the existence of insects in your greenhouse by using UV-absorbing plastics.
Greenhouse construction Kenya serves as an effective way to curb the food security crisis in the country. A greenhouse will allow you to grow high-quality plants throughout the year, but you have to make sure that the structure is built to excellence. You might face some challenges along the way, but you can counter them using the proper methods.
Affordable greenhouse Construction Kenya
Eunidrip irrigation system is reliable and well known company for affordable greenhouse construction Kenya.
We are equipped with highly skilled personnel who are advanced with knowledge and skills of affordable greenhouse construction. Our team comprises of agricultural engineers and agronomist who are expertise in this field of greenhouse construction.
Our greenhouses come with various standard sizes that are recognized by the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). The sizes available in the market are eight by fifteen meters, (8mx15m), eight by twenty meters, (8mx20m), eight by twenty-four meters, (8mx24m) and eight by thirty meters, (8mx30m) but the quotation can be adjusted as per the requirement of the client.
From the research and the data we have obtained from our initial customers, we are free and proud to conclude that our services are the best and our clients are the happiest this because, we give the best consultation on the best type of the crop to be grown inside the greenhouse and best type of timing to maximize profit.
Our greenhouses come as a package comprising of drip irrigation system that covers six beds, UV treated polythene greenhouse cover, and insect nets, knapsack sprayer and galvanized steel metals plus the installation.
Affordable Greenhouse construction in Kenya is among the new trends in both agriculture and business. This venture doesn’t come without its fare share of challenges. One of many challenges is costing. With high return on investment expectations, sometimes greenhouse farmers tend to pay more per meter square than what could give them real value.
Costing of Greenhouse construction Kenya.
Let us now have look at the approximate cost of green house construction in Kenya. For small scale farmers standard greenhouse measures eight by thirty meters (8mtrs*30mtrs).
The cost of this greenhouse will vary depending on the following factors
1. Type of the crop to be planted in the greenhouse.
2. Regulations accuracy required within the greenhouse
3.Type of the material.
4. Locality, where to construct the greenhouse.
Factors to consider for affordable greenhouse construction Kenya
- The variety of the crop.
- The climatic conditions of the crop.
- Agronomist practices required by crop.
- Irrigation method
- Availability of the market.
- Pests and disease management
Packages offered by Eunidrip Irrigation Systems under affordable greenhouse construction Kenya
- Drip irrigation system.
- Galvanized steel structures.
- Polythene sheeting and insect netting.
- Germination set.
- Knapsack sprayer
- Installation cost
- And side rolls up to control airflow within the greenhouse.
Types of crops grown in greenhouse construction Kenya
Tomatoes generally love heat so, with the help of the polythene sheeting, the heat generated will be suitable for its growth thus good harvest.
In the greenhouse, peppers are certain to get more heat than they would outside. This in turn gives me a much larger harvest.
Cucumbers are a really simple vegetable to grow, and you don’t have to grow a ton of them to get quite the harvest. They sprout and do more lateral growths thus more fruits on the laterals.
So if you decide to grow cucumbers inside your greenhouse, be sure to keep in mind that they do bush out and take over if you aren’t careful.
These problems can be solved by using the widely spaced drip tape/drip line. This will minimize the crowding of the plants. The commonly used drip line/drip tape for cucumber is of forty centimeters spacing, 40 cm or forty-five centimeters spacing, 45 cm
4. Micro greens
Micro greens are another really simple green to rise. More ever, they don’t require a lot of space or time. Plus, they are also an added health boost that can be quickly tossed on or into a meal
Strawberries can even be planted in containers so they can be moved around in your greenhouse.
This crop requires different spacing depending on the weather conditions and seed variety. Spinach requires a spacing of 60 centimeters by 60 centimeters or 45 centimeters by 45 centimeters depending on the humidity of a place. Farmers in hotter places are mostly recommended to use 60cm by 60cm spacing to avoid moisture stress.
Moisture stress can hugely affect yields as the plants tend to produce fewer leaves and roots.
To farmers who normally practice in organic farming, they are advised to apply NPK (Nitrogen Phosphorous and Potassium) fertilizer and lime solution to the soil every time they are growing spinach.
NPK help to boost the plants’ growth while lime solution helps to regulate the soil Ph to around 6.0 to 6.8. This is the best soil Ph that allows spinach to thrive and ensure the nutrients in the compost are well consumed by the plant.
Farmers need to know that nitrogen should be applied in plenty as it stimulates the growth of large and healthy spinach leaves. They take about two months or less to mature depending on various varieties.
Management of spinach in greenhouse farming in Kenya
- Mulching is vital as it helps to conserve the soil moisture which is a key for the robust growth of the plants. It also prevents fungal diseases attack on the plants which are likely to happen when soil particle splashes on the plant’s leaves during watering or when it rains.
- These fungi are present on the soil debris and spread diseases such as leaf spots, damping off, and downy mildew.
- Weed management can incur less while growing vegetables on may occur in between the holes made in the mulching paper. So weed management practice must be put into consideration even while using the mulching paper in the greenhouse
To those using the organic method of insect’s control, you can use the following homemade insecticides:
- Use blackjack weeds, crush it, and mix it with vegetable oil to make insecticide and use it to spray on plants.
- To prevent cutworms, use ash from the kitchen especially when the seedlings are in the nursery and after transplanting.
Other plants that can also be used in the greenhouse as the method of greenhouse farming are the;
Irrigation methods for greenhouse construction Kenya
1. Drip irrigation system
The commonly used method of irrigation of onion farming is the drip irrigation system. Drip irrigation system spacing commonly used for onion farming is drip line of 10 centimeters, 15 centimeters and 20 centimeters.
These spacing dictate the onion numbers along the rows and the column. The GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) in Kenya recommends these spacing from plant to plant and 30 centimeters from one line to another.
Benefits of best drip irrigation system
- The drip irrigation system is the most efficient method of irrigation. Through emitters, water is directly delivered to the plant root zone hence economical on water usage.
- In the best drip irrigation system, there is a constant benefit of water supply in small quantities to the plants. This creates an ideal moist condition for proper growth of most plants.
- The best drip irrigation system minimizes weed growth since water is only supplied to a particular crop root.
- The best drip irrigation system helps in the control of fungal diseases which grow very fast under moist conditions.
- Timeliness and labor-saving. In the best drip irrigation system, the control valves can be managed by one personnel. One person operates the whole system thus minimizing the labor costs. This minimizes production cost.
- Ease in fertilizer application. , method of liquid fertilizer application (Fertigation) is very easy and fast. Since water emitters are used to directly distribute fertilizers to particular crop/plants
Disease and pest management and agronomy practices
Thrips are tiny insects that have onions as most preferred host crop on hot and dry weather conditions. They feed by sucking the plant sap hence opening the onions to attack by diseases like purple blotch.
They mostly cause great damage to younger onions when bulbs are forming than older ones hence control measures should be undertaken during early stages of growth. Thrips can cause economic loss by reducing yields by up to 60% if not controlled timely.
They cause silvery streaks or patches on the leaves while severe infestation and feeding can result in minute black “tar” like sports on leaves.
Younger plant leaves show brown tips and eventually a white color as a result of feeding by thrips. This reduces ability of plants to make food thus resulting in small undeveloped bulbs.
The presence of thrips can also be indicated by the black dotted patches of thrips fecal materials produced during their feeding on the onion plant.
Cultural/ prevention measures of thrips in green house onion farming
Control of thrips is problematic since they reside in the inner leaves especially during bulb formation.
- Avoid transplanting infected seedlings and if noted discard them appropriately.
- Remove weeds and volunteer onions (those that show up by themselves and were not planted) to avoid infecting healthy ones.
- Scout and monitor field margins to detect early infestation as it start at field edges and margins and take actions to avoid further spreading.
- Scout by sampling at least five plants from different locations in the field. Inspect leaf base and areas under leaf folds for feeding damage and larvae presence. More than 3 thrips per leaf calls for insecticide use.
- Use yellow or while sticky traps to catch adult thrips which will indicate infestation and decide on control method.
- Practice crop rotation by avoiding fields where onions had been planted before or other vulnerable crops like maize.
- Plant resistant or tolerant varieties like Neptune F1, Texas Grano or Red Sanga F1 among others. White onions are more tolerant than red onions.
- Use overhead irrigation as it suppresses thrips population by washing them down.
- Avoid using broad spectrum insecticides to preserve beneficial predators like predaceous mite which feed on thrips and minimize their number.