Is tunnel farming profitable in South Africa?

Tunnel production may seem a relatively simple and profitable way to farm, but it involves high capital costs and has a narrow margin of error. Nico Laubscher Jnr spoke to Glenneis Kriel about the lessons that he and his team have learnt at Alzanne, near Vredendal, over the years.

Why do some farmers use high tunnels on farms?

High tunnels protect plants from severe weather and allow farmers to extend their growing seasons – growing earlier into the spring, later into the fall, and sometimes, year-round.

How much does it cost to start a farm in South Africa?

On average, it could cost you between R20,000 to 50,000 to start your own chicken farm, depending on how big or small you’re starting. It costs between R38 to R40 to grow a day-old chick to a point of sale, and one box of 100 day-old chicks costs between R850 to R950. For more stories, go to

How much does it cost to build a high tunnel?

At a cost of $1to $2 per square foot, a high tunnel can add low-cost growing space for season extension or plant protection. Growers and researchers are finding many innovative ways to utilize these structures to supplement their greenhouse operations.

What is the difference between a greenhouse and a high tunnel?

The main differences between a greenhouse and a tunnel are that in a greenhouse, plants are usually grown in pots on a table while a tunnel has the plants growing right in the ground as they would in a garden. Greenhouses are typically designed to use heaters and powered ventilation systems or evaporative coolers.

What vegetables grow best in a high tunnel?

You can grow many crops in tunnels, but the top five vegetables are tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, leafy greens and herbs, and crucifers. Small fruit crops also perform well in tunnels. These crops include strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries.

Can you start seeds in a high tunnel?

High tunnels are also a wonderful place to start seeds and harden off seedlings before moving them outdoors. Be prepared to use a supplemental heat source if you choose to start seeds in your high tunnel.

Which is better high tunnel or greenhouse?

Durability. Just as a high tunnel protects your crops from elements such as dipping nighttime temperatures, excessive exposure to rain, and destructive windloads, a greenhouse will provide the same value but often with a higher level of durability.

Is a high tunnel a permanent structure?

Although high tunnels are not considered permanent structures, most growers leave their tunnel in the same place for many years. Deliberate planning upfront to determine the best location on your property for a high tunnel is critical for success.