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Floatable greenhouse to combat flood and drought threats

Published:Tuesday | August 7, 2018 | 12:00 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/Gleaner Writer
The RADA St Mary team from left Glenmond Grant, Jeremy Hinds, Rayon Johnson and Andre Pryce.
The prototype of the floatable greenhouse which was on display at the St Mary Pavillion at the Denbigh Agricultural Show in Clarendon.

The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) team from St Mary captured more than a few glances with its display of a prototype for a floatable greenhouse at the recent Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show 2018.

In an interview with The Gleaner, two members of the RADA St Mary team, Jeremy Hinds of Richmond and Rayon Johnson who serves the Port Maria area, said that the idea came about as a solution to counter the damage caused by adverse climatic conditions such as drought and floods.

"When we examined the flood damage expenditure for the parish, which was more than $10 million dollars, and with the drought damage expenditure trending in the same direction, we wanted to come up with a solution for farmers to be more consistent with their level of production," said Hinds.

He added that the idea also was to give farmers a cheaper alternative as the material used to construct the floatable greenhouse was cheap.

According to Hinds, to construct the greenhouse, foam could be used to form the base, but it can also be made out of wood and recycled drums with the usage of styrofoam.

In describing the floatable greenhouse, Johnson said that the size would not be that of a normal traditional greenhouse, but would instead be aiming at the maximisation of space so that the planting would be done in a vertical fashion instead of one layer.

Johnson argued that with the planting being done in a vertical fashion, more space would be available on the floor that could accommodate potted plants or plants in a grow box.

"That way, you capitalise and ensure that the volume is increased. It would grow upwards to accommodate more plants," he shared.

Johnson told The Gleaner that after Denbigh, the plan is to establish one of the greenhouses at the RADA parish office in St Mary so that when farmers visit, they can be given information on the idea.

"Farmers who are in areas that are prone to flooding, we can extend the idea to them and, hopefully, they will buy into it," said Johnson.

Explaining how the floatable greenhouse works, Johnson said that it would not be placed directly on the ground as soil could accumulate around the house and prevent the structure from floating.

It would instead be elevated on a small platform, so that if the water level rose beneath the greenhouse, the structure would eventually rise.