The use of the term ‘Tropical greenhouse’ is considered to be any structure free standing or adjunct to an existing structure whereby plants are grown under controlled or regulated environmental conditions for commercial or hobby endeavours. It should ultimately be designed to provide uniform growth as well as protection of the plant from harmful environmental and biotic stresses, which may otherwise cause a decrease in the market value or in some cases the aesthetic value of the attribute for which the plant is grown. There are a number of companies, which offer a wide variety of greenhouse production systems. Designs range from fully computerized structures regulating light, temperature, humidity, nutrition, while at the same time moving the product through some automated system from seedling to the mature market stage to a combination of mechanized and human inputs or on the other extreme, a completely manual operation. Alternatively to sourcing patented systems, greenhouse structures can also be built provided that the necessary skills, equipment and materials are available at a cost effective price. The main factor determining which option to take as well as the level of mechanization would ultimately be the cost outlay.
In the humid tropics especially in the Caribbean, circumstances for one reason or another does not permit acquisition of an ideal location to set up a greenhouse operation. Often there are many constraints and most can be overcome with thought and rationalization of existing knowledge. The most important underlying factor for success is the understanding of the needs of the crop and cost effectively meeting those needs. For those who may be venturing in this area for the first time starting small and learning to master growing and management techniques is strongly recommend. Many other factors are also important in determining what type, where and how a greenhouse operation is to be built. These include:
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There are many materials that can be used in almost limitless combinations in the fabrication of greenhouse structures. It is known and accepted that some materials would outlast others depending on the very nature of the material and / or the use pretreatments such rust proofing as in the case of mild steel. The decision to use which material where depends on the on the owner / operators financial budget. The rule of thumb dictates that the longer you want your structure to last the more expensive is will be. Hence the major factors in determining what to use is cost, availability and durability. The materials used in greenhouse construction can be divided into the following groups: wood, concrete, plastics, steel including fasteners, mild steel, galvanized steel, and non-ferrous material such as stainless steel or bronze/ brass.
Several factors need to be considered in determining the best structure to suit the type of anthurium operation. These include: location, type of operation or production facility; size; terrain; material availability. Design, type of materials, budget cost location are all inter related