May 21, 2012

Prevent Greenhouse Fires With Thermal Imaging

In 2009, Hortica Insurance & Employee Benefits determined 48 percent of its property claims payments were fire-related. When trying to find a solution to reduce customer fire claims, the company began testing a thermographic imaging program. Hortica found that this program may have successfully reduced fire-related claims to 43 percent, ultimately creating a savings for its policyholders. Thermography has since become a service that Hortica provides to all of its customers. This service involves a visit from a Hortica thermographer to identify anomalies that may contribute to or result in costly damage to equipment or a disruption in business operations. Common problems identified by thermal imaging include overloaded, worn-out and broken circuit breakers, overheated circulating fans, failing fuses and contacts, loose connections and energy loss. Identifying Problems Thermal imagers identify potential problems quickly without shutting down equipment or an operating component, which is a major benefit to business owners. This […]

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May 21, 2012

Black Shade Cloth Versus Reflective Screens

Few factors can affect plant development as much as temperature fluctuation, particularly in the heat of summer. Monitoring and controlling both air and leaf temperature can drastically affect a plant’s productivity and quality. Leaf and air temperature can differ greatly, by as much as 10°F to 30°F. Proper greenhouse shading, however, can help keep leaf temperatures in the most productive range. As greenhouses transmit sunlight, they also trap heat, raising the internal temperature of the structure. Both plants and workers become stressed, and reducing the heat load becomes imperative. But what is the best material to accomplish that goal? Recent studies conducted by Dr. Daniel H. Willits at North Carolina State University (NCSU) help shed light on the impact greenhouse shading selection has on plants. These studies found that common black, knitted shade cloth provided little to no thermal improvement in the greenhouse. Installing reflective materials for external shading, in […]

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April 3, 2012

Track Shipments More Efficiently & Accurately

Tracking 1,000 acres of plant material and staging it for shipping in one area is no easy task, as Karl Losely, the president of Herman Losely & Son. will tell you. But tracking material that comes into the shipping yard with an archaic manual paper system, as the nursery did for many years in Perry, Ohio, magnified the challenge Losely and his team faced. “Initially, we had a paper pallet tag in which crew leaders in the field would note specific data on the tag – customer name, ribbon color, order number, what the material was and the quantity,” Losely says. “There was a tear-off stub on that tag. It was torn off as pickup crews picked up orders and brought it into the office. We would then manually track the data.” Manually tracking was a nightmare, though. The paper-tracking system forced Losely and his wife, Kathy, into many late […]

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January 17, 2012

Hurst Boiler Introduces New High Efficiency Integrated Control Systems for All Hurst Product Lines

Hurst Boiler & Welding Co. introduced their comprehensive line of high efficiency integrated boiler control systems on Janurary 12, 2012. The new systems feature graphical visualization and information collection to facilitate easier operational management of boilers and supporting peripherals. Each integrated control system provides cutting edge PLC control, variable frequency drives and HMI interfaces devices. “Large facilities such as manufacturing, refining, schools and hospitals have multiple boilers for redundancy and turndown,” explained Jimmy Bruner, Hurst Boiler’s control systems manager. “Our new, highly advanced integrated control systems are easy to use and provide many efficiency enhancements. Our trusted, reliable boiler now becomes a source of diagnostics and information to meet the needs of our customer. They want to know more about their energy usage, predictive maintenance and better analyze their utilities operations. The HURST integrated controls family gives them that opportunity.” For more information about Hurst Integrated Control Systems, visit www.hurstboiler.com […]

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January 17, 2012

Philips GreenPower LED Solutions Meets UL/CSA Certification Requirements

Philips, a company involved in lighting, manufacturing and applying lighting solutions for horticulture, is now certified for their GreenPower LED range. With LED lighting, the Growth Light can be tuned, which makes it possible to apply the optimum light recipe at every stage of a crop’s growth. This capability, together with effective heat management and energy efficiency, opens up new opportunities for growers and breeders. The UL/CSA certification underlines the high quality and performance and opens the way for sales and project activities in the USA and Canada. Underwriters Laboratories is an independent product safety certification organization that has been testing products and writing standards for safety for more than a century. Philips lighting solutions are based on close co-operation with the horticultural world. Successful field tests with growers and breeders around the globe gave insight into the growth effects of lighting on different crops throughout their growth cycle. This […]

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January 11, 2012

Midwest Groundcovers Begins Using Solar Power System

Midwest Groundcovers’ 99-acre nursery in St. Charles, IL now utilizes 37.5 kilowatts (kW) of solar energy. Realgy, LLC, an alternative energy service supplier in Illinois, owns the solar photovoltaic (PV) system now installed at Midwest’s headquarters. As part of Realgy’s commitment to generating local renewable energy, Realgy funded the project and hand-picked Midwest Groundcovers as a test-site for the installation.  “We are excited to announce the completion of the Midwest Groundcovers solar project,” says Michael Vrtis, president of Realgy. “Realgy made this investment as a trial and looks forward to Illinois promoting renewable energy so we can continue to install and provide the benefits of renewable energy to businesses in Illinois.” Renewable Energy Alternatives of Northbrook, IL installed the solar PV system on the roof of Midwest’s maintenance building.  “Midwest Groundcovers’ facility is a beautiful nursery and agricultural center. We are excited to contribute to the use of solar energy […]

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December 22, 2011

Equipment & Automation: Who Has What?

Greenhouse Grower surveyed more than 100 growers late in 2011 about the equipment and automation their operation uses. We asked growers about an assortment of equipment and automation, including: • Automated hanging basket systems    • Automated internal transportation systems• Blackout curtains• Conveyors• Irrigation controls• Flat fillers• Fogging/misting equipment• Hanging basket systems        • Label/tagging equipment    • Lighting• Potting machines• Seeders                • Soil mixers• Transplanters                        • Ventilation systems We found more growers have a ventilation system (66.3 percent) than any other item on the list above. Irrigation controls (60.0 percent), flat fillers (48.8 percent), lighting (46.3 percent) and fogging/misting equipment (42.5 percent) are also common grower items, based on our survey results. Nearly 39 percent of all growers surveyed have a seeder; 36.3 percent have a potting machine; 36.3 percent have a soil mixer. Blackout curtains (26.3 percent), conveyors (26.3 percent), hanging basket […]

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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

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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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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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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