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

Modine’s Effinity93 Unit Heaters

Modine has introduced the Effinity93, the most efficient gas-fired unit heater in North America. With six models available–from 135,000 to 310,000 BTU/hr–all operating at 93 percent efficiency, this condensing unit heater line delivers substantial energy savings to greenhouse owners. And, thanks to your feedback, Modine will be introducing two smaller sizes later this year. Greenhouses that use unit heaters as their primary source of heating are only getting 78 percent seasonal efficiency from power-vented units, or worse, only 65 percent efficiency from old gravity-vented units. Every Effinity93 unit provides 93 percent efficiency, giving greenhouse owners a way to pocket some extra green for themselves, while significantly reducing what is typically their second largest annual expense–energy. In many North American locations, a single Effinity93 can save at least $1,000 in energy costs, and when you consider the number of heaters needed in every greenhouse, it’s easy to envision the positive impact […]

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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

Pleasant View Gardens Is Buying Into Biomass

A wood chip isn’t a wood chip anymore. Who knew? Pleasant View Gardens for one, especially since it has installed a second biomass burner. Taking sustainability to the ultimate level, Pleasant View is now 95 percent oil free, heating both its Loudon and Pembroke, N.H., facilities almost entirely with wood chips. “It works really well for us because we’re a propagator,” says Henry Huntington, Pleasant View president. “We’re heating a lot of space at a critical time of year.” Between more than 11 acres across the two locations, Pleasant View was burning 600,000 gallons of No. 2 fuel oil per year. When heating bills nearly doubled to almost $2 million, the time for simply talking about adding a biomass burner was over. Always focused on reducing energy and labor costs, Pleasant View istalled a $2 million Hurst biomass burner in 2008. Though the learning curve was steeper than expected, the […]

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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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August 10, 2011

Upgrading Greenhouse Unit Heaters

Shortly after Modine introduced the Effinity93 in the fall of 2009, Andy Buist from Micandy Garden Greenhouses in Hudsonville, Mich., realized he needed to replace a few of his older, 78 percent efficient unit heaters and decided to take action. Hesitant at first, he purchased two new Effinity93 unit heaters, but by the time that first order arrived, he already made a decision to order more. The key reason that convinced Micandy to upgrade to newer heaters is one that affects greenhouse owners the most–the pocket book. “As a greenhouse owner, you spend tens of thousands of dollars annually on energy, especially here in Michigan,” Buist says. “We investigated the investment as much as possible, looking at our historical gas usage along with Modine’s heat savings calculator to determine our payback, and it just made economic sense to try the Effinity93 heaters. We’ve been nothing short of pleased ever since.” […]

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July 21, 2011

SBI Releases Smartphone App

SBI Software recently released a mobile app called MofuMobi for iPhone and Android users that gives direct access to business reports, customer contact information, weekly and monthly sales figures and more information. All info from the app is live, meaning if data changes in the SBI system, then updates are automatically reflected correctly in the app–no synching or uploading is required. With the app, a grower’s sales team is never without up-to-date contact information, and a management team can always keep its finger on the pulse of the business. Learn more about the app online at www.sbiteam.com.

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