Increasing crop yield

When growing crops in an open field, it is difficult for farmers to control the environment except by providing sufficient water and minerals for the growing plants.

Greenhouses

Greenhouses allow farmers to control the conditions in which their crops are growing. The rate of photosynthesis can be increased using:

  • artificial heating
  • artificial lighting
  • additional carbon dioxide released into the air inside
  • regular watering

Artificial lighting also allows photosynthesis to continue after daylight hours.

Tomatoes grown using hydroponic system where no soil is used
Tomato plants growing in controlled conditions

The additional cost of providing extra heating, lighting and carbon dioxide has to be weighed against the increased crop yield and the extra income it will provide. The cost should not exceed the additional income it generates for the farmer.

In practice, the farmer will need to find the optimum growing conditions for the crop, given the costs of providing extra lighting, heat and carbon dioxide.

Polytunnels

Polythene tunnels (polytunnels) protect crops from the effects of the weather, including wind, rain and extreme temperatures. They are large enough for people and machines to work inside and can provide warmer conditions than if the crops were grown outside.

Vegetables growing inside a polytunnel protected from the elements
Crops growing inside a polythene tunnel