Hi everybody! We have been diligent in the meantime. First greenhouses are being installed on our farm in Luang Prabang and we are looking forward to introducing this relatively new concept to our fellow farmers. That is why in this post we will be dealing with opportunities greenhouses can provide in tropical areas.
WHY DO WE NEED GREENHOUSES?
Greenhouses are there to protect and stimulate plants to grow and be productive which is why the inside of a greenhouse needs to be as friendly to the plant as possible. One of the main principles we need to be aware of, is to acknowledge the natural conditions already existing in the area where we want to build our greenhouse. Climate, particularly the amount of sunshine and temperature conditions play a crucial role in determining the type and structure of a greenhouse.
CLIMATE OF LAOS – INFLUENCE ON BUILDING GREENHOUSES
In Laos, dominant climate is tropical monsoon. It implies high rates of rainfall and noticeable humidity. Temperature varies throughout the country resulting in fact that mountainous regions of Northern Laos, where our farm is located, have slightly lower temperatures than the rest of the country. It can be said that northern parts of the country are referred to as subtropical.
Dictated by two types of monsoons we can distinguish two seasons, dry season in winter and wet season in summer. Winter monsoon (usually from November to February) is considered to bring good weather to Laos while summer monsoon (from May to October) brings lots of rainfall and humidity. But have in mind this schedule can be misleading because monsoons are generally irregular. In the north, during winter nights can be particularly cold which also needs to be taken into consideration. Also the amount of sunshine is an issue in northern Laos because of almost always present clouds even in the winter season.
In general, climate of Laos, especially Northern parts of the country, gives absolute reasoning why building greenhouses can be a savior to the farmers in Laos. Greenhouses can provide stable surroundings to the plants, protect them from peeks in temperatures on both side of the scale and help them strive in changing conditions.
GREENHOUSES IN TROPICAL CONDITIONS
Very structure of a greenhouse will be different in the tropical areas from those built in more moderate temperatures. Sometimes it will be enough just to protect your plants from rain by plastic roof, while in the other cases you might want to think about protecting plants from wind, sand or excessive humidity.
One of the type of greenhouses that can be a great solution for tropical regions are “sawtooth” greenhouses. Such greenhouses have in mind necessity to provide ventilation to the plants and help improve dispersion of light. Sawtooth greenhouses are important also because they improve air movement and cooling the plants which is extremely important in hot tropical areas. At the same time, sawtooth greenhouses help transpiration of the plants, coping with humidity and eventual lack of light.
GREENHOUSES AND PEST CONTROL
Also, there is another fact that we need to have in mind in building suitable greenhouses, and that is sometimes very noticeable existence of various insects that can potentially harm the crops. We have already talked about different pays of pest control, and in this case, thinking of mechanical protection can be very useful. Including insect nests is also one of the mean features of greenhouses in tropical areas and it can be a real savior of tour plants in time of high rain falls which is usually followed by insect overrun.
GREENHOUSES – BENEFIT FOR FARMERS
Greenhouse is there to introduce a micro climate where plants will be provided with stimulating conditions for growth throughout the year. Also, even though at the beginning greenhouse requests for certain investments, on the long term farmers will certainly benefit from it. Building and equipping a greenhouse properly, can result in creating additional certainty for the farmers in the sense of output they can count on during the year.