September 5, 2012

Smart Greenhouse Heating Saves Money

As the days get shorter and temperatures drop, it’s a perfect time to start thinking about how to reduce your energy consumption this winter. There are a number of relatively simple methods you can use. The installation of thermal energy curtains has been popular in recent years due to the substantial energy savings associated with them. They can serve double duty in the spring and summer as retractable shade curtains. Energy curtains can be expensive. For example, a grower installed a 40-foot-by-78-foot energy curtain for the price of $12,000. If the grower heats the greenhouse without the curtain from January 1 to May 31 at a temperature of 65°F, it would cost almost $24,000 to heat. With the curtain, it only costs about $17,000. At the time of installation, heating oil cost $3.10 per gallon. The grower saved about $6,600 per year, making the payback on investment in less than […]

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August 6, 2012

How To Reduce Cart Theft

At the end of the growing season, greenhouses are empty. Benches are bare. The huge stacks of empty containers waiting to be filled have dwindled down to just a few. Growers are usually relieved to find most of their inventory gone. But anxiety can build about the thousands of shipping carts that growers lose in a single season because of theft. Most theft occurs when carts left at retail during the selling season simply disappear. With the higher prices recyclers pay for scrap metals, metal rolling carts have become easy pickings for thieves who want quick cash.Growers, cart rental companies and cart manufacturers have implemented some programs to cut down on these thefts that directly affect your bottom line. Big Grower Takes Precautions Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, N.C., has experienced its share of cart losses. Manager Michael Van Wingerden estimates that the company loses 750 to 1,000 carts a year […]

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August 2, 2012

Products To Help Increase Productivity

Metazet/Formflex FormFlex.nl The new M-TRACK RFID from Metazet/Formflex has an on-board PLC-Touch screen and RFID reader. The M-Track RFID is an internal transportation system, based on an automated induction-led RFID Tractor. It is designed to transport a train of carts. With a minimum of hard wiring, it can be combined with packing/shipping systems to give customized routings within the greenhouse and for multiple stops. McConkey McConkeyco.com Engineered by McConkey and designed to meet growers’ specifications, KONG carts are the ideal solution for any grower or retailer upgrading their cart fleet. McConkey’s engineers will design a cart based on individual formats, with the option of adding the grower’s logo to each removable part to help prevent theft.KONG is th e only truly customizable cart — customers have the option to pick and choose all features to their specifications. McConkey works with growers on format changes, maximizing truck space or replacing old […]

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August 2, 2012

Recycling Rainwater

Water recycling is not a new idea for greenhouse growers; many have done it for ages. But some growers are taking water recycling to a new level with 5-micron filter technology, ozonation and rainwater harvesting. These methods ensure that the water these growers use is the cleanest, most pure water available, allowing them to reduce pesticide and fungicide use, improve plant health and realize cost savings. And they’re also showing that thanks to rainwater catchment systems, it’s possible to be completely independent of city and ground water. Metrolina Greenhouses’ Quest To Improve Water Quality “Clean water is our number one chemical,” says Abe Van Wingerden of Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, N.C. “Many growers miss that. They test their water quality and use chemicals to mitigate those problems. We do the opposite to reduce chemical usage.” Indeed, the Van Wingerdens have been on a quest to improve their water quality over […]

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July 20, 2012

Grow Better Plants With Horizontal Airflow Fans

Horizontal airflow (HAF) fans are used to mix warm air near the roof of the greenhouse with the cooler air at ground level, providing a more uniform growing environment Often referred to as mixing or circulation fans, HAF fans are not the same as ventilation fans and should not be run at the same time. It is also important to remember that despite many of the benefits of using HAF fans, improper installation and maintenance can greatly reduce these benefits. Uniform Temperature Is A Big Benefit One of the greatest benefits of using HAF fans is increased temperature uniformity. As air moves from one side and back up the other in a horizontal pattern, mixing occurs from side to side and from floor to ceiling.Temperature variation, however, can also occur vertically within a greenhouse from floor to ceiling with or without HAF fans. In order to quantify this phenomenon, researchers […]

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July 2, 2012

Argentine Greenhouse Robot Is A Low-Cost Alternative To GPS

A little Argentinian ingenuity has led to a prototype for a robot that applies pesticides in the greenhouse. Argentina’s National Institute of Agricultural Technology has created Trakür, and what makes it different from other greenhouse robots is its low cost. According to an article from SmartPlanet.com, the robot doesn’t use GPS to move around production area. Instead, it uses an embedded sensor system, which keeps the cost of Trakür at less than a third of other technologies. Trakür should be licensed for commercial production by early 2013. To read more about Trakür, click here for the SmartPlanet.com article or scroll down to see the robot in action.

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June 5, 2012

Energy-Efficient Lighting For The Greenhouse

Growers Supply offers a large line of energy-efficient lighting products for your home, business, greenhouse or farm. High Performance 45-inch T-5 fluorescent lamps are excellent both for starting seedlings and full-term growth. Their slim profile makes them more efficient than standard fluorescent bulbs. T-5 lamps also have a long life and extremely high lumen output. With minimal heat output, the lamps can be placed very close to plants. Compact fluorescent bulbs from Growers Supply come in a variety of sizes and are ideal for many different applications. From 55-watt Spring Lamps to 200-watt bulbs, compact fluorescent lights can be used in greenhouses, garden centers, barns or homes. To get the most out of your lighting technology, replace outdated incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient, long-lasting LED lamps. LEDs are environmentally friendly and safe and will outlast other bulbs, saving money on replacement costs. For more information, call 800-476-9715 or visit GrowersSupply.com/ADGHG.

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June 5, 2012

Flow-Rite Launches Line of Quick-Connect Couplers

Flow-Rite Controls is launching a line of quick-connect couplers for use in agricultural, industrial, chemical, and medical/life science applications. The design permits for a high flow rate. Disconnecting is hassle free with the ergonomic push-in button.  After years of being successfully incorporated in Flow-Rite watering systems for lead-acid batteries, the company is marketing their couplers as a separate product line. “It was a natural evolution for our couplers to become available for outside distribution, given our core capabilities and our American-made approach to quality,” says Todd Hart, new business development for Flow-Rite Controls. “We have the team to support orders large and small and the flexibility to offer private labeling and custom colors.” The couplers are made of high-grade UV resistant polypropylene, non-swell Viton O-rings and 305 stainless steel springs. These materials were carefully selected for their aversion to corrosion and acidic degradation. Keyed connection options are offered for error […]

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May 25, 2012

FLS External Shade And Harmony Screens From Ludvig Svensson Inc.

Svensson’s FLS external shade is made with highly reflective white films. This shade is made to reflect light and heat and offer daytime shade. Studies show 30 percent less heat is transmitted into greenhouses with FLS than black shade cloth at 60 percent. This protects plants from the stress of too much sun, but still lets light through for excellent plant conditions and energy savings. Another new product is Svensson’s solar reflection Harmony screens, available in both open and closed structure designs integrating Svensson’s white strips. Testing at a greenhouse in Spain clearly showed Harmony F’s open structure design offers high-grade diffusion for greater light delivery into the canopy. The results: excellent cooling, improved plant quality and shortened production. The Harmony XLS family, with its closed structure design, delivers all the cooling and light diffusion benefits plus the power for energy savings, helping growers manage rising heat costs and overall […]

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May 25, 2012

Futera Fusion and Infinite Energy Boilers From Delta T Solutions

Two top new products this year are the Futera Fusion and Infinite Energy (wall-hung) stainless steel condensing hot water boilers. BTUH output sizes range from 199 MBH to 399 MBH for the Infinite and 500 to 1999 MBH for the Fusion. It will help growers save on fuel expenses. These condensing units at full output reach 97.3 percent and 99 percent efficiencies, as opposed to standard atmospheric boilers, which are commonly 80 to 83 percent efficient. Growers can save 30 to 40 percent by upgrading to these types of boilers, especially combining the boilers with a Delta T Solutions-designed radiation product/system.

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May 25, 2012

VC2000 Vent Drive And Controls From Wadsworth Controls Systems

Wadsworth Control Systems is introducing the VC2000 Vent Drive, an enhanced line of drive units with an entirely new gear box. Superior protection is achieved with polyester epoxy paint, a more compact design and a new design for the internal limit switch that now allows 14 feet of travel. Total gear reduction and output torque specifications are consistent, so the new line can be added to an existing installation to work side by side. In addition, Wadsworth Control Systems is introducing the new Wireless Alarm Manager, which is ideal for the many growers who have ranges away from phone lines. It’s critical to have a phone system to connect you to your greenhouse in case of an alarm state that could wipe out the entire crop. EnviroSTEP, VersiSTEP and STEP Up controls all have design changes. EnviroSTEP and VersiSTEP integrated controls have a bright new screen making it even easier […]

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