A polytunnel can make a lot of sense for a small business, smallholding or farm. These structures come in far cheaper than conventional greenhouses or shed structures. For those growing food, a polytunnel can lengthen the growing season, increase the variety of crops that can be grown, and reduce potential for losses (in time and profit) due to pests and disease. When in the food growing business, a polytunnel offers some peace of mind, making it easier to make things work in an industry that is not always easy. No matter what your intentions, no matter what your business model, it is possible to create a future-proof sustainable business with the help of a commercial polytunnel.
If you have a polytunnel or polytunnels already, or have decided to invest in one or more, here are some tips to help you make your commercial polytunnel work for you:
Heating, lighting – even water bills may all be considerations for commercial polytunnel growers. All energy needs should be considered carefully and where possible, it is a good idea to make a plan to see to those energy needs using renewable sources of power. Solar panels , a wind turbine, or geothermal system may be expensive to install, but could pay for itself in short order. If you do your sums, you may well discover that renewables are very much a worthwhile investment. Rainwater harvesting should be used in place of mains-fed systems, and compost, organic fertilisers and equipment should be made in-house as often as possible.
Increasing yields in your polytunnel is not always a simple matter. However, diversity is usually key to achieving this. Rather than practising mono-crop growing, embrace polyculture and use permaculture techniques and practises to grow different plants together for the benefit of the whole. Studies have shown that growing certain crops together, or inter-cropping with a second plant type, can often increase yields on a commercial level.
Increasing profits is not only about maximising yield and minimising expenditure – it is also about growing the right things in the first place and finding a market for the things you grow. Think carefully about the profits you can make on different items where you live and weigh each one up carefully before planting out or sowing. Growing the right things in your commercial polytunnel – for where you live – can be the means to succeed with your growing business.