Introduction- Protected cultivation is a process of growing crops in a controlled environment. This means that the temperature, humidity, light and such other factors can be regulated as per requirement of the crop. This assists in a healthier and larger product. There are various types of protected cultivation practices. Some of the commonly used practices are forced ventilated greenhouse, naturally ventilated polyhouse, insect proof net house, shade net house, plastic tunnel and mulching, raised beds, trellising and drip irrigation. These practices can be used independently or in combination, to provide favorable environment to save plants from harsh climate and extend the duration of cultivation or off-season crop production. Adoption of drip irrigation under raised beds (you will read about it in Unit 4) covered with mulch films not only eradicates weeds but also maintains moisture in the soil for a prolonged period by minimizing evaporation losses.
Importance of Protected Cultivation As we all know, agriculture is the backbone of India’s economy for ages. Apart from the economy, it is also a big employment source as agriculture provides jobs to 90%. India is self-sufficient in agriculture which provides proper food security and also exports high-quality fruits and vegetables. Still, the demand for quality agricultural production has increased over the last decade and not completed by India. So, to complete the market demand, Indian agriculture needs new and effective production technologies that can continuously improve the agricultural sector’s productivity, profitability, and respectability.
One such technology is protected cultivation which is now widely practiced in the developed countries, including India. This farming method is a new farming method that allows variations in the climatic conditions and many cropping patterns. India has a big problem of climatic extremes such as floods, droughts and other climatic abnormalities that cause crop losses regularly or damages resulting in economic losses. So, to avoid these all harmful conditions, the protected cultivation method was founded, which provides better opportunities for the Indian farmers. The adoption of protected cultivation technology can take Indian agriculture to the new successful way. Through this method, farmers can easily complete the high market demands
The greenhouse is one of the best examples of protected cultivation which commercially used for the production of non-native and off-season vegetables, flowers and quality seedlings. Through the greenhouse method, the economic returns of high-value agriculture products increased substantially. It used as a rain shelter, and suitable regions for the greenhouse are high rainfall, like North-eastern states and coastal regions. In the protected cultivation, the less use of chemical pesticides and insecticides avoid their residues on the crop production.
Objectives of Protected Cultivation :-
Protection of plants from abiotic stress (physical or by non-living organism) such as temperature, excess/deficit water, hot and cold waves, and biotic factors such as pest and disease incidences, etc. Do you know? Greenhouse effect When short wave radiation from the Sun enters the greenhouse structure, it refracts through the surface and gets transformed into long wave radiations. These long wave radiations do not escape the greenhouse in entirety, thereby trapping the heat and thus, continually increase the temperature inside. This is known as the greenhouse effect. Thus, the enclosed space builds higher temperature than the ambient environment. However, after sunset it starts losing stored heat through conduction, convection and radiation.
- Efficient water use with minimum weed infestation.
- Enhancing productivity per unit area.
- Minimising the use of pesticides in crop production.
- Promotion of high value, quality horticultural produce.
- Propagation of planting material to improve germination percentage; healthy, uniform, disease free planting material and better hardening.
- Year-round and off-season production of flower, vegetable or fruit crops.
- Production of disease-free and genetically better transplants. At present in India, the small and medium farmers have started flower and vegetable cultivation under different types of modular protected structures depending upon their investment capacity and availability of market in their area. Among all the protected cultivation practices, greenhouse cultivation provides maximum benefits. The major crops grown under protected structures include — floriculture crops like rose, gerbera, carnation, anthurium, lilium, orchids, chrysanthemum, etc., and the vegetable crops like tomato, yellow and red bell peppers (from the capsicum family), cucumber, leafy and exotic vegetables, etc.
Protected cultivation of fruits are beneficial for producing quality production for export. Production technology of each crop should be standardized Great scope of employment for providing service support to the greenhouse growers.
Ms. Asha Nama, Assistant Professor, School of Agricultural Science, Career Point University, Kota