Protected cropping (PC) can be defined as the production of horticultural crops within, under or sheltered by artificial structures and/or materials to provide and/or enable modified growing conditions and/or protection from pests and adverse weather. Protected cropping encompasses a number of other terms including greenhouse horticulture, plasticulture, low cost protected cropping (LCPC) and controlled environment horticulture (CEH).
Protected cropping represents the application of a corresponding technological response to a continuum of constraints in the growing environment. It involves the application of structures, materials and technologies (with appropriate practices) and comprises the use of artificial structures such as greenhouses (polyhouses and glasshouses), shade houses, screen houses, crop canopy (crop-top) structures, crop covers, various technologies to influence temperature, humidity and light as well as soilless (hydroponic) growing systems.
Low cost protected cropping (LCPC) is a subcategory of protected cropping and has the distinct objective of a short payback period. This usually also means a minimised capital investment which has been one of the key drivers for the adoption of LCPC in developing countries.
In contrast to protected cropping generally, low cost protected cropping focusses on a single or limited number of key production (or marketing) constraints. LCPC is not about achieving a controlled growing environment.
Low cost protected cropping is not just cheap form of protected cropping. It is a deliberate strategy to modify or mitigate a key constraint in the growing envrionment.
Controlled environment horticulture is the pinnacle of protected cropping. CEH involves the sophisticated integration of structures, technologies and good practices with the objective of addressing all the constraints in a production environment to attain a fully controllable growing environment.
Yes. Protected cropping can be an expensive enterprise but when you are clear about what you are trying to achieve, you can invest in appropriate technology and combined with good practices, your protected cropping venture can be productive, sustainable, resilient and potentially yield you a good return. Primary Principles can help you in a number of areas depending on your needs. For a simple question to get you started, you can use the cyberSULT facility or for a more comprehensive consultancy service get in touch via the contact form.