Tunnel Farming: How to Boost Farm Productivity and Profitability!


Tunnel farming is the process of growing out-of-season crops inside polythene tunnels under a controlled atmosphere. These types of farming are common around world during the off-season when summer vegetables are cultivated. 

Due to low temperatures and high levels of frost in open fields, summer vegetables cannot be grown from December to February, hence they are grown inside polythene tunnels so that proper conditions can be provided for maximum growth and yield. 

The controlled atmosphere of tunnel farming leads to higher yields and earlier production and higher quality produce that brings good profits to farmers. Therefore, modern and progressive farmers in Pakistan are adopting this advance mode of farming at a faster rate.

The weather in Many Areas remains moderate, so we get early summer crops in this province. In Some States tunnel farming is the only way to grow summer vegetables off-season. Tunnel farming involves building tunnels like greenhouses, hut-like structures covered in plastic that serve as cocoons for growing cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, lettuce, etc. The production of strawberries inside tunnels has also become very popular in recent years, along with summer vegetables.

Tunnel farming extends the growing season and increases the production of crops by shielding them from the elements and trapping solar heat. Under controlled conditions, tunnel farming is becoming more accepted among educated farmers due to its ability to save resources by utilizing less than 40 per cent of water, fertilizer, and other inputs. Tunnel farming can overcome three significant challenges affecting agricultural growth: chronic water shortages, low yield per acre, and low value of crop production.

The idea behind tunnel farming is to create conditions during winter that are comparable to those during summer. In these tunnels, vegetables are grown in the winter after they are sown in the summer. The farming area is covered with a transparent polythene sheath fixed over D-shaped bamboo, steel, or aluminium pipes. In addition, the soil/growing media is covered with a black polythene sheath with small holes in which the seeds are sown. During the day, sunlight passes through the transparent polythene sheet and is absorbed by the black polythene sheet covering the soil/growing medium. Consequently, the temperature within the Tunnel is raised to the desired level. 

The plastic sheet on the soil serves three purposes: it traps heat, reduces water loss, and dramatically reduces weeds’ growth.

Types of Tunnels:

High Tunnels:

A high tunnel allows for maximum yields and makes soil preparation, picking, and spraying easy because of its width and height. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and sweet peppers can all be grown through a high tunnel.

Walk-in Tunnels:

The height of these tunnels is lower than that of High tunnels. Compared with low tunnels, walk-in tunnels provide a higher yield. Tunnels are ideal for growing tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, and hot peppers.

Low Tunnel:

As compared to high tunnels, low tunnels are less expensive, but yields are lower. This type of tunnel makes soil preparation, spraying and picking difficult. It is possible to grow cucumbers, melons, watermelons, bitter gourds, squashes, and snake gourds in this type of tunnel.

Before starting: Here are some things to remember:

  • Investors must have practical knowledge of farming before starting off-season vegetable cultivation in tunnels.
  • The soil and water quality of the farm site should be tested before planting.
  • Self-pollinating plants should be grown.
  • It is recommended to use recommended seeds.
  • To earn high profits, the farmer must have evaluated and complied with market information.


  • Introduce intensive cultivation per unit area.
  • Maximize production per unit area.
  • Produce in line with market demand.
  • Reduce environmental hazards as much as possible.
  • Increase the life expectancy and production capacity of plants.
  • To promote vertical cultivation to enhance the quality and quantity of the produce while reducing the area availability problems.
  • To get 3-5 times more production than that obtained in an open field.
  • Produce that is readily available on the market to fetch higher prices.
  • Water, fertilizer, and time & space are saved by reducing input resources.
  • Crops can be managed under controlled and relatively easy conditions.
  • It is possible to grow the crops in short periods of time.

Suggestions for Successful production:

  • For better temperature gains inside the Tunnel, keep the tunnel moving east to west.
  • Ensure that the seed is of high quality.
  • Use seeds of the Parthinocarpic variety for cucumbers.For cucumber, use Parthinocarpic variety seed.
  • Indeterminate varieties are best for tomatoes.
  • During the growing season, maintain the soil’s fertility.
  • Grow more profitable vegetables according to market research.
  • Till cucumber seeds germinate, protect them from rodents and insects.
  • You should water in the morning and evening or according to advice from an expert based on the growing/atmospheric conditions in your tunnel farm.
  • All plants should be tied up with rope.
  • At the beginning, prune the plants particularly their three nodes.
  • Cucumbers require the least amount of farm yard manure as compared to sweet peppers and tomatoes.
  • For economical irrigation and fertilizer application, use drip irrigation.
  • Use black mulch into the growing beds to prevent weeds from germinating.
  • To control insects or fungi, use the right pesticide at the right time.
  • Inside the Tunnel, smoking is strictly prohibited as it may cause a rapid spread of disease.

Growing season for Off-season production of selected vegetables:

Temperature requirements for Best Growth of Vegetables:

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