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

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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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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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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July 21, 2011

New Salesman At Lock Drives

Lock Drives, a German manufacturer of drive systems for moving vents and energy screens in greenhouses, has named Dennis Raath a salesman. Raath, who has 30 years experience in horticulture, will work from his home office in Oklahoma City and cover the North American markets along with the U.S. team. Raath can be reached by phone at 877-562-5487 or 405-650-9219 or by email at [email protected]

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July 13, 2011

5 Tips For A More Energy-Efficient Greenhouse

Scott Longfellow, owner of Longfellow’s Greenhouses in Manchester, Maine knows a thing or two about dealing with cold winters. With two acres of greenhouse production, he also deals with many of the same issues of finding ways to conserve energy that other small to mid-size growers do. Longfellow offered several tips for finding energy improvements that can benefit your greenhouse operation during heating season – and in the summer too. 1. Get an energy audit. Longfellow had one performed as part of a USDA grant process, but recommends doing an audit whether it’s required or not. “You’ll find a whole list of things you’re not paying attention to,” he says. “It cost us about $1000 and it was money well spent.” 2. Adjust your boiler temperatures in the summer. “You don’t want to shut it down, but there’s no need to keep the boiler running at 210-220 degrees all summer […]

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July 13, 2011

Solar-Powered Greenhouse Heating

For an industry that runs on sunlight, solar power has been a somewhat elusive development. Cees Kattenberg says Sika Energy USA has a potential solution that may interest growers. The Sikaplex Solar System uses a special curved lens in the peak of a greenhouse that concentrates light into a single line at a temperature of nearly 400 degrees. That light is focused on a water line running just beneath the lens. Water running through the line is heated to 190 degrees and stored in an insulated tank. The line is also warmed by heat rising from the greenhouse. The water can be used for heating in the winter or absorption cooling in the summer, he says. Kattenberg says shadows aren’t a problem because the lens diffuses the light, leading to only 1 to 2 percent loss. The system works best with glass or acrylic coverings. The system costs around $200,000 […]

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July 13, 2011

A Big Fogger For Big Greenhouse Spaces

As growing spaces have gotten bigger and bigger in recent years, traditional spray methods have become less efficient. Dramm is addressing the needs of larger growing operations with its new TracFog mist blower system. TracFog is designed for very large spaces. It is mounted to a tractor by a three-point hitch and is PTO driven and requires 9 HP to operate. The PTO drives a blower/compressor creating ultra-fine particles and rapidly applies all chemical formulations as a fog. The fog created from a full 100 gallon tank travels long distances and the system can treat up to 2 million square feet. The TracFog can treat an acre of greenhouse in less than 15 minutes. Directable nozzles are adjustable to work with any crop, and the system can be used outdoors as well as in the greenhouse.

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July 12, 2011

Mechanized Basket Elevator Makes Loading Conveyors Easier

Need some help loading those high hanging basket systems? AgriNomix’s Mechanized Basket Elevator alleviates some of the physical stress and danger in loading hanging basket conveyors, lifting baskets from the lower position to the upper position. Crews can work more efficiently. Capacity for the basket elevator is 500 to 1,300 baskets per hour, but custom heights can be ordered. AgriNomix also displayed the Trike Horticulture Forklift, which is different because of its tires. Widely spaced front wheels and closley spaced rear wheels keep rutting to a minimum, and will drive over even difficult terrain smoothly without sinking. A programmable hands-off pot spacing option adds to the machine’s features. Load capacity is 1,000 kg. with a Kubota 3-cylinder diesel engine.

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July 7, 2011

New Products Around Every Corner

More than 500 companies will be exhibiting on the OFA Short Course trade show floor. Take a look at the new products that caught our eye here.

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June 15, 2011

Greenhouse Cooling, Ventilating & Shading

The improved Poly-Vent natural ventilation system from Poly-Tex is an alternative to rack-and-pinion vents and rollup curtain systems. The new frame has improved water drainage and is designed to be mounted to most greenhouse sidewalls without modification. Poly-Vent operates using only small blowers that can be thermostatically controlled. Single-stage allows growers to fully open or close off their ventilation while two-stage gives them the ability to select different temperatures at which the top and bottom will open or close. Combined with aluminum-wall housing, an aluminum shutter and a vinyl-coated wire guard, AL aluminum fans from American Coolair provide years of service. The aluminum blades of fans are bolted to a cast aluminum hub, which also serves as the fan pulley. Power is applied through V-belts directly to the propeller with the blade load concentrated directly over the fan bearings, eliminating overhung bearing load. It is available with single- or two-speed […]

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