December 22, 2011

Labor-Saving Equipment: What’s A Must Have?

Irrigation controls, flat fillers and seeders are a grower’s top labor savers, according to the 100-plus growers who responded to a GreenhouseGrower.com survey late in 2011. We asked all growers the following question: “Which of the following would you describe as your top ‘labor savers?’ (Choose up to 3).” Among the 15 choices growers had, irrigation controls (37.3 percent) was cited as the top labor saver. Nearly 30 percent of those surveyed referred to flat fillers as a top labor saver, and 22.7 percent say they couldn’t do without their seeder. Potting machines (18.7 percent), fogging/misting equipment (17.3 percent) and ventilation systems (16.0) were also somewhat popular choices. Blackout curtains (2.7 percent), automated internal transportation systems (2.7 percent) and lighting (5.3 percent) were the least-chosen choices. Growers with more than 500,000 square feet of greenhouse space, however, have a different perspective on the most labor-saving items. Among the biggest growers, […]

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November 14, 2011

LED Greenhouse Lighting Offers New Possibilities

  by DRAKE STALIONS LIGHT-EMITTING diodes (LEDs) have long been recognized for their distinct benefits over traditional lighting technologies. Benefits such as long life, energy efficiency and flexibility in design and application have led designers to choose LEDs for a myriad of lighting applications. The evolution of LED technology over the past decade has been remarkable, with the LED and the solid-state lighting (SSL) market growing significantly over the past several years. However, when compared to the rest of the lighting industry, the introduction of LEDs into horticultural applications is much more recent and has only materialized over the last one to two years. The introduction of LEDs into the horticultural market is largely due to significant advancements in LED technology that allow for the manufacturing of high-power packages in specific wavelengths. Greenhouse operators and other commercial growers can benefit greatly from the energy savings and improved efficiency that LED […]

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November 14, 2011

PARsource Adds Account Rep

George Dickinson has joined horticultural lighting supplier PARsource as Canadian and strategic accounts representative. Dickinson will be headquartered at Burlington, Southern Ontario, handling sales and lighting project management for all of Canada and selected U.S. markets. Dickinson comes to PARsource with more than 20 years of industry experience managing sales and greenhouse lighting projects, ranging from small research greenhouses to 100-acre commercial operations. He has worked in all facets of the business, starting in the shipping department of an Ontario produce and flower wholesaler, then moving into a grower role at a large flower greenhouse in Niagara on the Lake. He also spent several years as general manager/sales for the Danish company Greenex, where he sold cuttings from European breeders to growers in North America. “I always look for different angles to help growers,” Dickinson says. “By offering options and insights, I help customers see possible options they may not […]

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October 31, 2011

9 Chances To Improve Your Water Management Skills

The Water Education Alliance for Horticulture is working with University of Florida Cooperative Extension, OFA, FNGLA and the German grower association Zentralverband Gartenbau, as well as several experts at universities and companies, to help growers conserve, recirculate and treat irrigation water. The groups are working together to host focused webinars. Registration is free at WaterEducationAlliance.org (click on Workshops), and 45-minute presentations will run at noon EDT on the following Tuesdays: November 29 Best Management Practices for water conservation Tom Yeager (University of Florida)   December 6 Biology of waterborne pathogens Gary Chastagner (Washington State University)   December 13 A Systems Approach For Managing Phytophthora Diseases in Nurseries: The Importance Of Water Jennifer Parke (Oregon State University)   December 20 Monitoring Water Quality Paul Fisher (University of Florida) January 10 Filtration & Avoiding Clogging Of Irrigation Lines (Dramm Water)   January 17 Surface Cleaning & Sanitation Warren Copes (USDA-ARS)   January […]

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September 23, 2011

Alternative Energy For Cut Flower Growers

Wind turbines, solar panels and wood stoves are becoming common fixtures at nurseries and large bedding plant greenhouses. But what about other growers, particularly smaller field or hoop house producers? What are their options for reducing inputs and increasing efficiency? Find out at the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers’ National Conference and Trade Show this November in Reston, Va. The conference is November 7-10. Monday, November 7 features an alternative energy workshop specifically designed for cut flower growers. Speakers will examine methods and equipment such as the Dutch rotary spading machine, using solar panels in irrigation systems and making farms more energy efficient. Anyone interested in these new processes can attend. The workshop runs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Reston’s location, just outside Washington, D.C., makes it easily accessible. For more information contact the ASCFG at ascfg@oberlin.net or see www.ascfg.org.

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September 20, 2011

Link4 Corporation’s iGrow 100 Greenhouse Controls

A familiar expression is “information is power.” Link4 Corporation’s newest entry into the greenhouse environmental controls world epitomizes this statement. The iGrow 100 series product line not only provides a flexible and powerful control capability for small to midsize greenhouses, but also features a unique energy management capability. Major reasons for control automation are to achieve an environment best suited for growing plants within the constraints of the available mechanical equipment, to lower labor costs and to minimize energy costs. The iGrow 100 series product includes all the tools the grower needs to achieve these objectives. Energy Control Within the reports section of the iGrow 100 series are seven subsections that relate to equipment and energy use. These are return on investment, graphing, equipment costs, energy costs, equipment usage, energy usage and event logs. For each piece of equipment connected to the controller, the user has the option of entering […]

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September 20, 2011

Practical Software Solutions: Modern Overhaul

For more than 40 years, Speedling, Inc., in Sun City, Fla., has been known as an innovator, producing high-quality, fast-growing ornamental, vegetable and forestry transplants. The company also produces retail-ready plants, offers a variety of horticultural supplies and has grown to eight locations in four states with a long-term presence in China. When Speedling contacted Practical Software Solutions in May 2009, Speedling was using an outdated, heavily customized operating system that had become more of a burden than a tool. With so many products and facilities, Speedling had to streamline and simplify. “The system can’t run the company; the company uses a system to run the business,” says Speedling CEO Greg Davis. “We needed a system that could track thousands of materials, recipes and finished products and highlight variances in real time. We committed to an ambitious, but well thought-out plan. Our team along with Practical has executed extremely well. […]

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September 16, 2011

Comment Of The Week: Overcoming Extended Drought

Can Texas growers survive this latest bout of drought? One worried nurseryman shares his thoughts on the impact extended drought could have on his business: “If this drought proves to be an eight- to 10-year event as it was in the 1950s here in Texas, all bets are off in our nursery business. Consumers we talk to are worn out trying to water in their yards complying with water restrictions. Long-term weather predictions are that we may not get any significant rain for many more months. Fall sales? What fall? It’s still near 100°F here every day, just as it has been for months. Even cacti hate this weather!” – PecanHillNursery.com If you’re a Texas grower, what impact do you expect drought to have on your business going forward? What steps are you taking to maintain relevancy in spite of the drought? Let us know in the comments section below. […]

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September 9, 2011

TrueLeaf Has New Eastern Regional Manager

TrueLeaf Technologies has appointed Paul A. Johnson as eastern regional manager. Johnson’s work experience is as both an owner/operator and a salesperson of young plants and cuttings.  Johnson’s previous employers include Yoder Brothers, Randall Farms and Oglevee. He resides in Western Massachusetts. Learn more about TrueLeaf at TrueLeafTechnologies.com.

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August 10, 2011

Directing Radiant Heat

At Urban Growers LLC, in Burton, Ohio, installing a hydronic heating system from Delta T Solutions has saved owner John Urbanowicz between 40 and 50 percent annually on energy bills, compared to the costs of forced air heating. As a young entrepreneur who started the business on his family farm in 1999 while working full-time for BFG Supply, Urbanowicz has always been progressive. Realizing the inefficiencies of forced air in his 95,000-square-foot wholesale and retail operation in northeastern Ohio–an area prone to long, cold winters that can cause significant heating challenges–Urbanowicz began working to develop a customized system. “I first started to upgrade my heating system about 10 years ago, when I realized that the forced air overhead heaters were not as efficient as I liked,” Urbanowicz says. “I had seen a lot of greenhouse operations and I knew what I wanted. I worked with Delta T Solutions, which helped […]

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August 10, 2011

Better Bench Heating

It may be difficult for growers in cold country to grasp, but even greenhouses in central California use a lot of heat. Unfortunately, this factor and unprecedented market pressures have conspired to drive many growers in the region out of business in the last few years. The growers in the area that are thriving have found that continued investment in facility improvement is more important than ever. Morris Brink, Western regional manager for TrueLeaf Technologies says, “There are places along the coast like Half Moon Bay that have very temperate year-round temperatures, but because of marine influences, specifically fog, annual heat loads can rival those of Northern greenhouses.” The Color Spot Nurseries location in Lodi, Calif., is no exception. Facilities Manager Lou Ball contracted with TrueLeaf and Brink to create an energy audit and produce efficiency calculations to justify the funds from Pacific Gas and Electric to replace an old […]

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