How to Grow Organic Food in a Greenhouse?
The demand for organic food is increasing with each passing year. According to market research, the global organic food market had touched the 100-billion-dollar mark in 2018. Interestingly, India has about 1.1 million organic producers which are the highest in the world.
Organic food production is grabbing the attention of environment caring farmers. Conventional methods of food production are drastically harming our planet. With organic food production, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions while providing much safer and healthier food to society.
Today, we will discuss the approaches by which you can grow organic food effortlessly in your greenhouse.
1. Adopting the hydroponic technique for food production:
The first step in organic food production inside a greenhouse should be the adoption of the hydroponic technique. Why are we emphasizing this? Hydroponics does not require soil for food production. When we grow food in soil-less conditions, it eliminates the soil-borne diseases and pests.
In the conventional type of farming, the grower uses chemical pesticide or fungicide to prevent such hazards. A greenhouse also provides several advantages over open field cultivation.
First, the probability of pest entry is extremely low inside a greenhouse because of the closed structure and protective net. Another advantage is that it gives the flexibility to control the environmental conditions of the greenhouse. It helps in maintaining the optimum growing conditions for the crop.
2. Eliminating the use of chemical pesticide by using natural alternatives:
In the past six years, there is a six-fold increase in the number of vegetable samples containing pesticide above the allowed "Maximum Residue Limits (MRL)".
Organic farming has the primary objective of pesticide-free food production, but the pests are still something that farmers need to tackle. The first thing we can do is grow the crop in a protected area such as a greenhouse, and we can use naturally-derived pesticides if pests are attacking the crop, even after growing inside.
Here are some alternatives to chemical pesticides that you can use:
· Neem Oil: Neem is known globally for its insecticidal properties. The oil of neem protects the plants from the pests when sprayed on plants with some warm water. Neem oil is non-toxic for humans and hence totally safe to use on plants.
· Eucalyptus Oil: The oil of Eucalyptus reduces the chances of pest invasion when used regularly.
· Onion and Garlic Spray: The volatile essence or aroma of onion and garlic keeps the insects away from the plants. To prepare the spray, take a medium-sized onion and one clove of garlic and put them into the water for a while. Now add a teaspoon of pepper and mix it well. This volume is enough to spray on 10-15 plants (add more ingredient in the same proportion to prepare a large volume of spray).
3. Using the nutrients or minerals of organic source:
The soil has four components which determine its physical and chemical properties. The soil components are mineral content (45%), air (25%), water (25%), and organic matter (5%). In hydroponics, we provide separately all the things that plants get from the soil.
We derive organic nutrients from natural sources such as plant waste and animal waste. The composition of organic nutrient solution is slightly different from the lab-made or inorganic nutrient solution.
With more producers adopting the organic farming method, the question arises that what are the benefits of doing organic farming rather than conventional farming?
Here are the main advantages of doing organic farming:
· Endless Market: Organic food is quite popular in local as well as global market. Producers can generate more income with organic farming because people are willing to pay a higher price for safe and highly nutritious food.
· Good for the environment: Compared with the conventional farming method, organic farming has minimal or no harmful effect on the ecosystem. Whereas, traditional farming practices include heavy usage of pesticides which have a long-lasting impact on the soil and human life.
· Relatively More Affordable: Organic farming can be a perfect choice for farmers looking for an inexpensive and safe crop production method. Expensive chemical fertilizers, pesticides and weedicides increase the input cost beyond economical limits.
· Nutritious and high-quality food: Research shows that organic food has 40-80% more antioxidants than food grown with conventional methods. The organic vegetables and fruits are safer as they do not contain any pesticide residue.