Chapter 9

Greenhouse Plant Growing Systems

(draft book excerpts)

There are numerous greenhouse plant growing systems currently being utilized worldwide by commercial greenhouse operations. Greenhouse crop production systems are either based on soil or soilless culture. In soil culture, crops are produced in the native soil or in a loamy soil brought inside the greenhouse. Soilless culture, the production of plants in a soilless substrate, can be done via hydroponics. Hydroponics is a technology for growing plants in nutrient solutions that supply all nutrient elements needed for optimum plant growth with or without the use of an inert substrate such as sand, vermiculite, rockwool, peat moss, saw dust, coir dust, coconut fiber, etc. to provide mechanical support. The greenhouse grower has many choices in plant growing systems. The choice of system will depend on the plants to be grown, the size of the system and the financial and time investment the grower wishes to make. Many growers will try a variety of growing systems over time, finally settling on a system that works well for their variety of plants, and with which they experience success. All greenhouse production systems require the use of similar environmental controls, shade structures, support wires, and general production practices. The major differences would be in the irrigation and nutrient delivery methods and controls. Individual production systems are not necessarily crop specific, but several are often associated with certain crops.

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Within This Chapter: Greenhouse Plant Growing Systems

  • Introduction to Greenhouse Plant Growing Systems
  • Soil Culture
  • Greenhouse Soils Amended with Compost or Manure
  • National Organic Program Standards for Compost
  • NOP Standards on Composts Used for Crop Production
  • Hydroponic Systems
  • Advantages/Disadvantages
  • Liquid Hydroponic Systems
  • Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
  • Aeroponic Technique
  • Floating Hydroponic System
  • Aggregate Hydroponic Systems
  • Grow Bag Hydroponic Systems
  • Rockwool Hydroponic System
  • Trough Hydroponic Systems
  • Vertical Hydroponic Systems
  • Ebb and Flow Hydroponic Systems
  • Sand-based Hydroponic System
  • References