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A greenhouse is a system for modification and management of environmental factors that allows plants to be grown in suitable climates that may be not well suited for their growth and development. This greenhouse technology gains significance in changing climatic scenario which emphasizes on high quality production along with higher productivity by efficient utilization of available resources. However, the productivity and efficiency of green house technology is fully depends on the types of greenhouse structure used for production. The recent trend in growth of the human population, along with the advancement of consumption patterns, emphasizes the development of innovative greenhouse structures. The type and equipment of greenhouse structure used in any area generally suit the local environment, availability of construction materials and specific crop. In each region, components such as cover materials, climate-control systems, and irrigation and fertilization equipments are regularly evaluated by growers, designers and researchers, to improve their efficiency, lower inputs, and reduce undesired environmental effects. The efficiency and productivity of a greenhouse operation is largely dependent on the type of growing structure used. Since many greenhouse designs are there to select for a particular region, it is very essential to become intimate with the advantages and disadvantages of each green house types and structure. Hence, a brief discussion on different types of greenhouses structure and their components is needed.
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Green-houses: Types and Structural Components
Samapika Dalai*, Barsha Tripathy, Smaranika Mohanta,
Basabadatta Sahu and Jnana Bharati Palai
Center for Smart Agriculture, Centurion University of Technology and Management, Odisha-761211
*Corresponding author: samapika@cutm.ac.in
Abstract
A greenhouse is a system for modication and management of environmental factors that
allows plants to be grown in suitable climates that may be not well suited for their growth
and development. This greenhouse technology gains signicance in changing climatic
scenario which emphasizes on high quality production along with higher productivity
by efcient utilization of available resources. However, the productivity and efciency
of green house technology is fully depends on the types of greenhouse structure used
for production. The recent trend in growth of the human population, along with the
advancement of consumption patterns, emphasizes the development of innovative
greenhouse structures. The type and equipment of greenhouse structure used in any area
generally suit the local environment, availability of construction materials and specic
crop. In each region, components such as cover materials, climate-control systems, and
irrigation and fertilization equipments are regularly evaluated by growers, designers and
researchers, to improve their efciency, lower inputs, and reduce undesired environmental
effects. The efciency and productivity of a greenhouse operation is largely dependent
on the type of growing structure used. Since many greenhouse designs are there to select
for a particular region, it is very essential to become intimate with the advantages and
disadvantages of each green house types and structure. Hence, a brief discussion on
different types of greenhouses structure and their components is needed.
Keywords: Greenhouse, structural component, technology, types
1. Introducon
India has made a tremendous progress in agricultural production after green revolution
but productivity is quite low due to climate change and intervention of traditional
cultivation practices. In order to meet out the food demand in 2050, world production
must increase by 70 per cent (FAO 2020). Man has developed technological methods
2
Chapter
Green-houses: Types and Structural Components. In: Protected Cultivation and Smart Agriculture
edited by Sagar Maitra, Dinkar J Gaikwad and Tanmoy Shankar © New Delhi Publishers, New Delhi:
2020, (pp. 09-17). ISBN: 978-81-948993-2-7, DOI: 10.30954/NDP-PCSA.2020.2
10 Protected Cultivation and Smart Agriculture
for year round crop production. In this regard, greenhouse technology can be the only
one option to control the local environment for maximizing crop productivity per unit
area and enhance the crop production in terms of quantity and quality which is not
possible under open eld conditions. In this technological development, greenhouse
technology has got a lot of popularity over the years. Presently, progressive farmers
are adopting commercial protected cultivation of high value vegetables and owers
(Maitra 2020). Greenhouse structures are covered with glass or plastic lm,
transparent and translucent materials. Now, there are two ways of practice followed;
one is a fully controlled environment and the other being a partially controlled one.
This technology of using greenhouses to grow plants is of signicant importance,
especially in areas where the climatic conditions are always on the extreme side
and regions of high rainfall. For this various types of greenhouse structures are
available for crop production. As there are both advantages and disadvantages in all
type of greenhouse structure for a specic application, in common no single type of
greenhouse is considered as the best one. Therefore, different types of greenhouse
designs based on utility, shape, material and construction are available to meet the
specic needs.
2. Types of Greenhouses
2.1 Types of greenhouse based on cost investment
2.1.1 Low technology greenhouses
A very small proportion of the farmers use low technology structures for production.
The size of the low technology greenhouses is less than 3 metres in total height. The
most common type low technology greenhouses involve tunnel houses provide poor
ventilation as they do not have vertical walls. This type of structure is relatively
inexpensive due to little or no automation is used. However, this type of structure
provides basic advantages for crop production as compared to open eld production.
Crop potential is still limited by the growing environment and crop management
is somewhat difcult. Low technology greenhouses generally provide suboptimal
growing environment which results yield reduction and little reduction in the
incidence of pests and diseases however, low technology greenhouses offer a cost
effective entry to the farming industry.
2.1.2 Medium technology greenhouses
Medium technology greenhouses are typically characterised by vertical walls. The
size of the medium technology greenhouses is more than 2m but less than 4 metres
tall and a total height usually less than 5.5 metres. These types of green houses
facilitate either roof or side wall for better ventilation. They also provide medium
automation and usually use clad with either single or double skin plastic lm or
glass. Medium level greenhouses offer a compromise between cost and productivity
Green-houses: Types and Structural Components 11
and represent a reasonable economic and environmental basis for the farming
industry. Crop production in medium level greenhouses is more efcient than open
eld production. Hydroponic systems increase the efciency of water use. There is
greater opportunity to use non-chemical pest and disease management strategies but
overall the full potential of greenhouse horticulture is difcult to attain.
2.1.3 High level greenhouses
Height of high level greenhouses wall is at least 4 metres and height of roof peak is up
to 8 metres above ground level. These structures offer excellent crop production with
environmental performance. This structure has proper roof ventilation and also side
wall vents. Cladding materials used in high level greenhouse are plastic lm (single or
double), polycarbonate sheeting or glass. There is automation environmental controls.
These structures offer enormous opportunities for economic and environmental
sustainability. Use of pesticides also less signicantly reduced. High technology
structures provide a generally impressive sight and, internationally, are increasingly
being involved in agribusiness opportunities. Although these greenhouses are capital
intensive, they offer a highly productive, environmentally sustainable opportunity for
an advanced fresh produce industry. Investment decisions should, wherever possible,
look to install high technology greenhouses.
2.2 Greenhouse type based on shape
2.2.1 Lean-to type greenhouse
A lean-to types of greenhouse is applicable when it placed against the side of an
existing greenhouse structure for one or more of its sides. The roof of the existing
greenhouse structure is extended with covering material and the exposed area is
properly covered. The whole structure should faced south side which is the best
direction for adequate sun exposure. This type of greenhouse is limited to single or
double-row plant benches with a total width of 7 to 12 feet and length can be as the
building it is attached to the structure. The advantages of the lean-to type greenhouse
are, usually it is a least expensive structure which close to available electricity,
water and heat source. This types of greenhouse makes the best use of sunlight and
minimizes the requirement of roof supports. Whereas limited space, limited light,
limited ventilation and temperature control are the following disadvantages.
2.2.2 Even span type greenhouse
The even span is the common type of greenhouse constructed fully on ground level
with the two equal width and pitch of roof slopes. This type of greenhouse structure
is used when the size of greenhouse is a small size and attached to a house at one
gable end. This type of greenhouse is restricted to 2 or 3 rows of plant benches.
The price of an even-span greenhouse structure is more as compared to the cost of
a lean-to type, but it has eminent plasticity in design and suitable for more plants.
Because the size of greenhouse structure and substantial amount of uncover glass
12 Protected Cultivation and Smart Agriculture
area, it will cost more to heat. The design has better shape as compared to a lean-to
type for air movement inside the structure to maintain uniform temperatures during
the winter season. It accommodates two side benches, two walks and a wide centre
bench. There are different types of single and multiple span structures available in
various regions of India. For single span type the span in general, varies from 5 to 9
m, whereas the length is around 24 m and the height varies from 2.5 to 4.3 m.
2.2.3 Uneven span type greenhouse
This uneven span type of greenhouse is suitable for hilly or undulating terrains. The
roofs of the structure are differ in width; which resembles the name of the structure
and make the structures adaptable to the side slopes of hill. This type of greenhouses
is rarely used as it is not adaptable for automation.
2.2.4 Ridge and furrow type greenhouse
This type of greenhouse designs use two or more A-frame greenhouse structure
connected to one another along the length of the eave. The eave represent as gutter
or furrow to handle rain water and melted snow. The side wall is eradicate between
the greenhouses, seems structure with a single large interior, The interior space in
greenhouse structure reduces labour, minimize the price of automation, upgrade
personal management and less consumption of fuel as there is less uncovered wall
area through which heat escapes. The snow stuffs must be taken into the frame
specications of these greenhouses since the snow cannot slide off the roofs as in
case of individual free standing greenhouses, but melts away. In spite of snow loads,
ridge and furrow greenhouses are effectively used in northern countries of Europe
and in Canada and are well.
Fig. 1: Saw-tooth greenhouse
Green-houses: Types and Structural Components 13
2.2.5 Saw tooth type greenhouse
This type of greenhouses is similar to ridge and furrow types, except that this type
provides natural ventilation from saw- tooth form of the greenhouse (Fig. 1). When
open the saw tooth vent allows a continuous airow to reduce the inside temperature
or can be closed to optimise the climate control of the growing area. The roof
ventilation alone provides 25% of the total ventilation of the covered area, in addition
to the side ventilation. The shape of the arches allows excellent light transmission.
2.2.6 Quonset greenhouse
Pipe arches are used to provide support by pipe purling running along the distance of
the quonset type greenhouse. In general, polyethylene is used as covering material.
This greenhouse is useful for a small isolated cultural area and also economical as
compared to the gutter connected greenhouses. These houses are connected either in
free, standing style or arranged in an interlocking ridge and furrow. In the interlocking
type, truss members overlap sufciently to allow a bed of plants to grow between the
overlapping portions of adjacent houses.
2.3 Type of greenhouse based on utility
Greenhouse can be classied based on the utilities and functions. Articial cooling
and heating of the greenhouse are more costly and elaborate. Hence greenhouses
are classied as active heating and active cooling system green house based on the
articial cooling and heating.
2.3.1 Active heating system of greenhouses
During the night time, air temperature inside greenhouse decreases. To avoid the
cold bite to plants due to freezing, some amount of heat has to be supplied. The
requirements for heating greenhouse depend on the rate at which the heat is lost to
the outside environment. Various methods are adopted to reduce the heat losses, viz.,
using double layer polyethylene, thermo pane glasses (Two layers of factory sealed
glass with dead air space) or to use heating systems, such as unit heaters, central heat,
radiant heat and solar heating system.
2.3.2 Active cooling system of greenhouses
During summer season, it is desirable to reduce the temperatures of greenhouse than
the ambient temperatures, for effective crop growth. Hence suitable modications are
made in the green house so that large volumes of cooled air is drawn into greenhouse,
This type of greenhouse either consists of evaporative cooling pad with fan or fog
cooling. This greenhouse is designed in such a way that it permits a roof opening of
40% and in some cases nearly 100%.
2.4 Types of greenhouse based on construction
The construction of greenhouse is predominantly powered by the structural material,
14 Protected Cultivation and Smart Agriculture
though the covering material also inuences the types of green house. Span of the
green house determines the selection of structural components and their construction.
Huge the span, efcient should be the material and more structural components are
used to make sturdy truss type frames. For smaller spans, simpler designs like hoops
can be followed. Greenhouses are broadly classied as wooden framed, pipe framed
and truss framed structures based on construction.
2.4.1 Wooden framed structures
In general, wooden frame structures are applicable where greenhouses with span is
less than 6 m. Side posts and columns are made up of wooden materials without
the use of a truss materials. Pine wood 4 is commonly used as it is inexpensive
and possesses good strength. Similarly, locally available timber can be used for the
construction of greenhouse as they are good in strength, durability and machinability.
2.4.2 Pipe framed structures
Pipes are used for construction of greenhouses, when the clear span is around 12m.
In general, the side posts, columns, cross ties and purlins are constructed using pipes.
In this type, the trusses are not used.
2.4.3 Truss framed structures
Green house structures can be made in truss frames, if the span is greater than or
equal to 15m. Flat steel, tubular steel or angular iron is welded together to form
a truss encompassing rafters, chords and struts. Struts are support members under
compression and chords are support members under tension. Angle iron purlins
running along the length of greenhouse are bolted to each truss. Columns are used
only in very wide truss frame houses of 21.3 m or more. Most of the glass houses are
made in truss frame, as these frames are highly suitable for pre-fabrication.
2.5 Types of greenhouse based on covering materials
The principal component of the greenhouse structure is covering materials. They are
directly inuenced by greenhouse effect interior part of the structure and manipulate
the air temperature inside the greenhouse. Selection of frame types and method of
xing also varies with the covering materials. Greenhouses are classied as glass,
plastic lm and rigid panel greenhouses based on the type of covering materials.
2.5.1 Glass greenhouses
Glass is used as covering material in glass greenhouses (Fig. 2). As a covering material
it has the advantage of greater interior light intensity, have higher air inltration rate,
and leads to lower interior humidity and excellent disease prevention quality. Ridge
and furrow, lean-to type, even span type of designs are used for construction of glass
greenhouse.
Green-houses: Types and Structural Components 15
Fig. 2: Glass greenhouse
2.5.2 Plastic film greenhouses
The covering materials of exible plastic lms including polyvinyl chloride,
polyethylene and polyester are used in this type of greenhouses. As a covering
material for greenhouses, plastics are more popular, cheap and the less heating cost
as compared to glass greenhouses. Plastic lms have short lifespan which is the main
disadvantage of this covering material. For example, the best quality ultraviolet (UV)
stabilized lm can last for four years only. Quonset design as well as gutter-connected
design is suitable for using this covering material.
2.5.3 Rigid panel greenhouses
Quonset type frame is also known ridge and furrow type frame material in
which polyvinyl chloride rigid panels, bre glass-reinforced plastic, acrylic and
polycarbonate rigid panels are used as the covering material in greenhouse. These
material provide more uniform light intensity throughout the greenhouse and also
resistant to breakage than plastic or glass. High grade panels are more durable even
up to 20 years. But the panels move to collect dust and also 5 harbor algae, are the
main disadvantage of rigid panel types greenhouse, results in dim of the panels and
gradually incline in the light transmission.
3. Structural components for greenhouse construction
In structural components, rafters is the primary vertical supporter of greenhouse
(Fig. 3). Rafters are generally placed on 2, 3 or 4 foot centers based on the energy
requirements to hold the whole structure. It may be truss, curved or arch type
depending on the greenhouse width. Purlins provide horizontal supports that run from
rafter to rafter. All the structural components are spaced 4-8 feet apart based on the
magnitude of the greenhouse. Purlins used in high winds area to provide additional
support, connected by a cross tie. Side posts and columns provide vertical supports
usually ranging in high point from 1-10 feet. These structural components determine
the height of the production area. Sidewalls placed to provide cooling, insulation by
proper ventilation.
16 Protected Cultivation and Smart Agriculture
Fig. 3: Primary components of greenhouse
3.1 Framing Materials
Aluminum, steel and wood framing materials are popularly used for construction
of greenhouse. However, out of these three, aluminum is the most durable and
economical. They are available in different shapes and thicknesses. This framing
material can be modied into rafters, side posts and other structural components.
Framing material like wood is not used frequently as it deteriorates quickly in the
mist facility of greenhouse. If wood is used, it is good to obtain pressure treated
lumber that “resists” decompose. There are adequate framing materials treated wood
available commercially.
3.2 Covering Materials
Greenhouse covering materials should be clear enough to provide optimum light
transmission and long lasting as well as inexpensive. A huge number of materials have
been availed on a commercial basis to meet these needs. Glass materials are good for
best light transmission for greenhouse crop production but the structural components
used to support glass are very costly. Another covering material berglass is more
long lasting and does not need the substantial structural components as required
in glass house. It is used frequently on commercial basis. Miserably, berglass is
more sensitive to ultra violet (UV) light, allows less light transmission as the ber
get swell. Under certain conditions, the life span of berglass is only ve years.
Double sheets of polyethylene (PE) lm, lled with air, is one of the most popular
non rigid covering materials on traded greenhouses, give support required for normal
operation. Recently available polyethylene (PE) lm lasts two years and it needs
to be supplanting after the durable time. Although maintenance of these covering
materials is expensive, the lower starting investment as well as the less structural
components required to hold up this covering materials, has made it most economical
for consumer as well as producers. A large number of new polycarbonate and acrylic
covering materials are now available for greenhouse.
Green-houses: Types and Structural Components 17
4. Conclusion
The productivity and efciency of greenhouse is highly affected by its design.
Ridge and furrow design of greenhouse provide the substantial productivity and
efciency in production and most reliable and popularly used framing material for
trading greenhouse structures showed aluminium material. Similarly, double sheets
of polyethylene lm are the most inexpensive covering material available for crop
production. However, the initial and long standing costs of the facility, non availability
of various structural components, non standardization of region based greenhouse
and other structures design and lack of awareness are major limiting factors in the
adoption of this technology.
References
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Economics Division: Rome, Italy, 2020.
[3] Maitra, S., Shankar, T., Sairam, M. and Pine, S. 2020. Evaluation of gerbera (Gerbera
jamesonii L.) cultivars for growth, yield and ower quality under protected cultivation.
Indian Journal of Natural Sciences, 10(60): 20271-20276.
[4] Prasad, S. and Kumar, U. 2007. Greenhouse Management for Horticultural Crops. 476
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Navsari, India, pp. 2.
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Food and Agriculture data
  • Anonymous
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High Level Expert Forum-How to Feed the World in 2050
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