It has been a tough few years (some might say longer) for glasshouse growers. Rising energy prices have crippled the sector and the flurry of activity around new glasshouse development in the UK pre Covid has been tempered as a result.
Even the trend to build glasshouses next to factories that might provide surplus C02 or other energy sources is difficult to make work right now in the UK.
For some growers and farmers, diversification has been the answer to help stem challenges in the field but if you grow in a glasshouse then it often isn’t that easy. You probably don’t have much land to spare to build a farm shop, or the chance to rent your land to activity centres or even the ability to covert a barn to start a B&B.
But what role could alternative crops play in the future of glasshouse production? About seven years ago more than a few eyebrows were raised when the British Sugar owned Cornerways Nursey stopped growing what was for many years a successful and valuable tomato crop to focus on growing crops for medicinal purposes.
Is now the time to be exploring the idea of alternative crops? Maybe growing them will become the new diversification of choice? That is not to say we want lots of glasshouse growers to give up growing food crops-far from it. We want to everything possible to increase the volume of crops domestically.
But the on-going pressures of recent years will continue to test the patience of growers as they strive to improve on quality and drive efficiencies.
Numerous reports over the last few years have told us that self-sufficiency in the sector is, in some crop areas, at an all-time low. Some growers might find a combination of food crops and non-food crops could be the way to go in the future?
Everyone in the glasshouse sector will be keeping a close eye on the new research project that will seek to improve conditions under glass to match those found outside. If successful, it could be a game-changer for the glasshouse sector, meaning growers could have the ability to grow more crops under glass. So, watch this space.
The November issue also includes articles on,
- Cost price reductions new focus for GCA
- Research glasshouse planned for Lincoln
- Biostimulants & PGRs
- Staying on top of ToBRFV
To read these and more from “The Commercial Greenhouse Grower” subscribe today – find out more here.