April 19, 2013

DLICALC Online Tool Helps Growers Caculate Daily Light Integral

Managing all the different environmental and cultural aspects of greenhouse crop production can be an intimidating and daunting task, especially during the peak production season. But it’s necessary to produce a high-quality, salable plant. The greenhouse is full of moving targets, from root zone pH and EC to plant growth, air temperature and light. Managing each of the parameters of greenhouse crop production to consistently produce quality crops on time can be a challenge. Thankfully, the development of decision-support tools can aid greenhouse growers. GROCALC is a suite of electronic grower decision support tools that include ALKCALC, FERTCALC and PGRCALC. These programs are useful for making calculations related to greenhouse crop culture including water acidification requirements, fertilizer solution and plant growth regulator (PGR) mixing. However, there are few or no tools available to help make calculations related to the greenhouse light environment. Although light is frequently discussed in terms of […]

Read More

April 19, 2013

Greenhouse Covering Released To USA After 29 Years of Success in Europe

Polydress SolaWrap has been successfully used in greenhouses in Europe for three decades and is now being introduced to America. SolaWrap’s unique qualities have led to reported tomato crop advancement in the Mediterranean of three weeks, in the wintertime, in an unheated greenhouse compared to standard greenhouse coverings. Its durability was tested in the extreme heat of Kuwait for a period of 25 years until the outbreak of war destroyed the testing facility. In that 25-year period, the original SolaWrap covering withstood the elements and remained effective. It did not yellow or become brittle or streak. In the converse climate of Manitoba, Canada, where temperatures drop well below freezing, a trial has been in process for more than five years. The results are very promising. Strawberries are growing in this SolaWrap greenhouse in January, and the only heating occurs at night during the dead of winter. However, the greatest test […]

Read More

March 11, 2013

Greenhouse Equipment And Automation For Every Size Operation

Check out new equipment and automation products designed to make greenhouse operation easier and more efficient.

Read More

March 5, 2013

How To Automate A Greenhouse At Any Size

Like other business owners who are constantly working to improve their companies, growers are looking for ways to lower their costs and become more efficient. Automation is one way they can do this. Here are some recent upgrades to equipment that have applications for all growers. Pot Filling Made EZ Mitchell Ellis at Mitchell Ellis Products Inc., in Semmes, Ala., is eager to talk about the company’s EZ Potter potting machine. Part of that enthusiasm is due to the fact that the EZ Potter system, which was introduced last year, is unlike any other potting machine on the market. Because Ellis thinks the machine is so unique, the company has filed a patent application. For example, EZ Potter is the first potting machine equipped with an indexing conveyor belt. “If a grower wants to plant up to 7-gallon containers, there are two rails to adjust as the pots are placed […]

Read More

February 22, 2013

Primerus Products Acquires The SPOT-SPITTER From John Deere Water

On Feb. 1, 2013 Primerus Products, LLC, a startup company founded by veteran irrigation industry expert Jack Butler, acquired the SPOT-SPITTER product line. Butler has been a leader within Roberts Irrigation and John Deere Water for nearly 20 years where he played an important role in bringing the SPOT-SPITTER to its current market position. “Primerus Products is able to continue the high level of manufacturing quality provided by Roberts and Deere, while providing the core focus on nursery irrigation applications that is necessary to help its growers and dealers succeed,” Butler says. The SPOT-SPITTER nursery sprayer is the original spray stake invented by and by Jim Roberts, who founded Roberts Irrigation Products, Inc., in 1968. A product ahead of its time, it set a new standard for precision spray irrigation and quickly became accepted in nursery and greenhouse applications across North America. While there have since been imitations developed by […]

Read More

February 17, 2013

Bella Verdi Farms Focuses On Efficient Greenhouse Vegetable Production

Darrell Joseph, owner of Bella Verdi Farms, in Austin, Texas, is seldom satisfied with the way he grows his lettuce, microgreens and herb crops. Since starting the business in 2004, he has constantly looked for ways to increase production in his 13,000-square-foot greenhouse and the 1,000 square feet of indoor controlled-environment space he operates. “I always try to be more efficient,” Joseph says. “Right now we are growing the same amount of microgreens in 4,000 square feet of space that we used to grow in 9,000 square feet. That’s just a matter of learning and figuring out how to do more with less. We took the existing space and converted it into something that is more efficient.” Joseph was involved with semiconductor manufacturing for 20 years and applies the principles from that industry to his growing operation. “Process-driven, very clean, solid technology, repeatable processes — it is my nature to […]

Read More

February 5, 2013

LINX Greenhouses Division Adds An Affordable New Tier To Nexus Corp.’s Offerings

Nexus Corp. has long had a reputation as serving the high end of the commercial greenhouse structures market for both growers and retailers. That description is expanding a bit with the introduction of the company’s new LINX Greenhouses division. LINX offers a new tier of structures to the Nexus offerings — a freestanding product line with an affordable mix of three gothic- and arch-profile structures. Scott Thompson, a past NGMA President and active industry participant in sales, product development and customer service for more than 30 years, joined Nexus in August 2012 and brought his years of design and technology experience to help put together the LINX division and its products. We talked with Thompson for his perspective on the new division and what he thinks LINX will bring to the grower market. GG: How would you describe the LINX line of structures to a grower?Thompson: What was critical in […]

Read More

February 5, 2013

Grants Make Greenhouse Projects Possible

With energy costs ranking as one of the top concerns for greenhouse growers, it makes sense to take advantage of energy-efficient equipment and technology. But the cost of retrofitting or adding new equipment can be cost-prohibitive, and it’s often difficult to come up with the capital, even though the savings will be greater in the long-term. REAP Program Changes To Help Small Businesses There have been several changes in the past five years in the Rural Energy For America Program (REAP) that increase the chances for a smaller grower to receive a grant. “There’s been a general change to this program,” says Dan Kuipers, solar sales manager and grant specialist with TrueLeaf Technologies. “In the first couple of years I wrote applications, it was much easier to get very large grants. We received numerous half-million dollar grants for people. It was a situation where the big growers had the resources […]

Read More

January 8, 2013

Eco-Friendly Greenhouse Racks For Your Operation

Many growers who ship locally and nationally use some type of metal carts or racks to deliver their plants. Some growers will tell you that carts are a necessary evil when it comes to moving a large quantity of plants relatively quickly. Maintaining and tracking carts during the busy spring shipping season can sometimes be overwhelming. When trying to fill orders in a timely manner, growers can be hindered if they don’t have an adequate inventory of carts and can’t recover them quickly enough to keep plants moving out to customers. Growers also have to be concerned with cart loss and theft. Packaging companies have seen the love-hate relationship growers have with carts and are working to develop economical, recyclable shipping systems to make it easier for growers to avoid the issues with cart recovery and theft. Grower-Designed Shipping System Andy Krieger, co-owner of Krieger Greenhouses in Jefferson, Iowa, started […]

Read More

December 11, 2012

Willoway Nurseries Tests Robots

Willoway Nurseries is one of a small number of growers testing robots from Harvest Automation as a more efficient and cost-effective method of moving plants in the greenhouse and nursery yard. We asked Willoway’s Tom Demaline for an update on the testing process. GG: How are the robots working? Demaline: It has been good. We worked with Harvest Automation on the alpha and beta testing and working out the kinks with that. We trialed the first production models in October. We ran them about 6 weeks, focusing on consolidating plants for winter. We’re still in the learning curve on how to use the technology. Did the robots physically pick up a plant and move it? Yes. But in these trials they didn’t seem to like to consolidate the plants as much as they like to space them. We just have to learn how to make them more efficient. We’re really […]

Read More

December 10, 2012

Tips On Automating Simple Greenhouse Tasks

Anything that has an on/off switch or some sort of electro-mechanical action can be automated. Wander off to your local hardware store, pick up some mechanical timers, and you can automate a simple system in an afternoon. Automation is valuable because it saves time, and builds consistent, predictable cycles that promote quality growing. These days, both simple and sophisticated greenhouse automation is available to almost any grower with nearly any type of crop or budget. The cost of electronics has dropped steeply over the past decade. At the same time, software has become more powerful and sensors are vastly more sensitive. The challenge becomes picking out the right solution from a wide range of sometimes complementary and conflicting solutions. Dedicated Versus Integrated Let’s start with types of automation controls. Generally speaking, they fall into two kinds of controls. Dedicated controls manage only one system. A water timer on a hose […]

Read More