September 17, 2013

LEDs Reduce Costs For Greenhouse Tomato Growers According To Purdue Study

Tomatoes grown around LED lights in the winter can significantly reduce greenhouse energy costs without sacrificing yield, according to a Purdue University study. Cary Mitchell, a professor of horticulture, said the average tomato is shipped about 1,500 miles from warmer climates where they’re grown to cooler climates that cannot produce the fruit cost-effectively in the winter. That journey is costly, however, because tomatoes are picked green and ripen during shipping, decreasing quality and flavor. The lengthy shipping distance also adds to the industry’s carbon footprint. “It makes it really hard for the greenhouse industry to grow tomatoes well in the offseason. We’re trying to change that and make it affordable,” Mitchell said. Energy costs drive up prices for producers who might want to grow tomatoes in greenhouses in states that have winters inhospitable to growing food. Greenhouses must be heated, and shorter, overcast days require costly lighting. Mitchell and doctoral […]

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September 16, 2013

4 New Irrigation Products

Delta T Solutions Flood Floors Delta T Solutions sub-irrigation systems can be customized to fit growers’ needs. Water is recycled and filtered to reduce disease instances. Sub-irrigation provides even watering and fertilizer distribution, resulting in uniform crops. Flood floors are highly compatible with in-floor heating systems, which quickly dry remaining water for disease control. DeltaTSolutions.com

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September 13, 2013

Comparing LED Lighting To High-Pressure Sodium Lamps

Cuttings of vegetatively propagated bedding plants are frequently rooted in late winter and early spring to meet the spring and early summer market demand for flowering bedding plants. However, this is also the time when dirty and old glazing material, interior superstructures, and hanging baskets suspended above benches reduce already seasonally low ambient outdoor daily light integrals (DLIs) inside the greenhouse. Increasing the DLI during propagation has been shown to improve growth and quality of rooted cuttings, as well as reduce time to flower after transplanting. While maintaining clean glazing material, minimizing superstructure and reducing the density of hanging baskets may increase greenhouse DLI, the only way to appreciably increase DLI is to provide supplemental or photosynthetic lighting. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are solid-state, semi-conducting diodes that can emit light from ~250 nm to ≥1000 nm. There are several features of LEDs that make them attractive alternatives to high-pressure sodium (HPS) […]

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September 12, 2013

Irrigating Crops On Demand

Automating greenhouse irrigation can be a huge labor saver, which is imperative for a modern greenhouse to be competitive. Irrigation controllers make it possible to automate greenhouse irrigation, but one usually programs the system to come on for a set time on a set schedule. Environmental conditions change such that a set program may be wrong more often than it is right. Sensing devices can be employed to aid a greenhouse operator making decisions about when to water, or one can take this a step further and let the substrate itself decide when it needs to be watered. Comparing On-Demand To Automated Irrigation Rather than have a set schedule programmed into a controller, it is possible to wire a moisture-sensing device, such as a tensiometer, between an electric valve and a source of electricity (transformer). When the moisture level in the substrate falls below a set-point, a switch on the […]

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August 23, 2013

Structural Design Manual From National Greenhouse Manufacturing Association Offers Construction Guidance

The manual guides designers through the building code provisions for production and commercial greenhouse structures. It includes the provisions for roof live load, snow load, wind loads and seismic and collateral loads as contained in the building code or reference standards. Structural design methods for roof framing systems, the support columns and the lateral bracing systems are also detailed. This chapter looks at bracing, connection materials, roof support systems, trusses, arches, rigid frames, gutters, ridges, purlins and more. It also includes two design examples. Click here to visit the NGMA Downloads page and click on the dropdown menu under Design Manuals.

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August 15, 2013

Time to Upgrade Your Greenhouse Operation?

Unhappy plants, discontented workers and high production costs are all signs that it might be time for some changes to your greenhouses, says A.J. Both, associate extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University. “Any or all of these conditions can be a good reason to investigate and implement upgrades,â€� he says. Wasted Energy Energy is one of the costliest aspects of running a growing operation, second only to labor expenses. According to a fact sheet produced by Both and Michigan State University’s Erik Runkle, approximately 65 to 85 percent of the energy consumed in greenhouse production goes toward heating, while electricity and transportation make up the remainder. In older greenhouses, it’s common for air leaks to reduce efficiency, leading to higher energy costs. Both and Runkle recommend inspecting your current house’s glazing, walls, doors, fans and vents for leaks. Pay close attention to the areas around […]

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Google Glass

August 13, 2013

Google Glass: How Will It Impact The Greenhouse Industry?

You may be asking, what is Google Glass? It’s Google’s latest attempt to free data from desktop computers, tablets and smartphones, and place it right in front of your eyes. It’s a wearable computer with a glass screen that allows you to access the web, record video as you see it, perform actions based on voice activation and display useful information about what you’re looking at. It looks futuristic, like something out of a sci-fi movie, but will soon be upon us and used for both entertainment and productivity. But why am I writing about this on a greenhouse site? Because it could very well change the way we do business. Apps are just now being created by third-party developers and will be similar to smartphone apps. The difference is you will be able to control these apps using voice commands and you’ll see information displayed in front of your […]

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July 29, 2013

Energy Conservation: Helpful Hints From NGMA

Why save energy? There are many reasons. Purchased energy is a significant and ongoing expense for most greenhouse operations. There is high probability that energy prices will continue to rise and most greenhouse operations have the ability to economize on fuel use. Energy is consumed all the time, year after year. Once it is consumed, you can never get it back. Anytime you can save energy costs, you are moving money directly to your bottom line, increasing your margins and competitiveness. Energy-efficient systems are usually engineered for optimum conversion, distribution and retention of heat. They can often produce better, more uniform crops, as well as being good for the environment. Even if it takes additional capital to achieve the highest level of energy saving, the long life of many energy-saving greenhouse system components make them sound investments. Where Can I Save Energy? • Make the most of free energy from sunlight […]

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July 11, 2013

GrowerLive Enterprise Software Can Be Used With Or Without Pay-By -Scan

If your standard, off-the-shelf accounting software program and Excel inventory sheets just aren’t cutting it anymore, maybe it’s time to look at a computer software program developed for commercial growers. Here are some software programs designed to handle the variables and intricacies that are unique to commercial growers’ businesses. The GrowerLive software program for growers was released by Innovative Technologies Group Inc. in 2007. The software program was developed for Rick Brown, owner of Riverview Flower Farm in Riverview, Fla., who produces annuals and perennials for The Home Depot. Since releasing the software the company has added additional growers, including citrus and sod producers. Most of the growers sell to big box stores, including Lowe’s, The Home Depot and Walmart. They also serve smaller retail chains and independents, including John Deere Landscapes, Meijer and Thrifty Mart. “GrowerLive is an inventory program and also a fulfillment-replenishment system for pay-by-scan,” says Innovative […]

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June 10, 2013

Keeping Cool With Greenhouse Shading

Shade is used to reduce the temperature and light inside a greenhouse. The radiant energy from the sun can easily build up inside of a greenhouse during the summer and increase temperatures beyond the desired range for many crops. Additionally, light levels in the summer regularly exceed the usable level by plants, and excess light may result in high-light damage. However, the use of shade cloth can often reduce the air temperature by up to 10°F (5°C) and light levels by up to 75 percent or greater, depending on the shade material used. Two Ways To Provide Shade In A Greenhouse   There are two primary options for providing shade: shading compound or whitewash; or shade curtains or shade cloth. Each of these options has distinct advantages and disadvantages, which warrant consideration when deciding how to reduce light and temperature in the greenhouse. Shade compound, or white wash, is a […]

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June 5, 2013

Natural Ventilation And Fog Increase Cooling Efficiency

For greenhouse ventilation, two main methods are used — mechanical and natural. Mechanical ventilation includes fan-and-pad systems, which are a type of evaporative cooling system. Fan-and-pad systems cool air by passing outside air through a wet pad, lowering the temperature and humidifying the greenhouse. This type of system works best in hotter, drier climates, because the capacity for cooling with a fan-and-pad system is very limited in humid climates. University of Arizona associate professor Murat Kacira says a drawback of using a fan-and-pad type system is that it requires a lot of energy and water. “Water is needed for the pad system, and energy is needed to run the pump for water circulation over the pad as well as the energy to run the exhaust fans,” Kacira says. “Water is a precious resource with limited availability, especially in arid and semi-arid regions. “Another issue is there can be a temperature […]

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