January 21, 2010

If At First You Don’t Succeed …

All Sam Martin wanted was to lessen his fuel costs, and he’s finally on the right path for his operation now that he’s burning coal to heat his greenhouses. But Martin’s journey to the right fuel source had its twists and turns. Lessons were learned, Martin got an extensive education in a variety of energy sources and others can use his experience as a reminder of what to do when exploring non-fossil fuels–and what not to do. Martin’s journey is unique because he has employed three different alternative energy systems–wood, corn and coal–in response to a recent rise in propane prices. Martin is heating four greenhouses that span about 20,000 square feet, and he’s using those greenhouses to grow vegetables for his business, Earth n’ Eats, in Chambersburg, Pa. The first alternative source Martin gave a try was wood. He has a friend who owns a sawmill, so slab wood […]

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January 19, 2010

Double Harvest Provides Lifeline In Haiti

While ports have been jammed as international aid flows into Haiti, the Double Harvest Christian mission the Van Wingerden family founded in 1981 that is only eight miles from Port-au-Prince has immediately begun providing food, water, shelter and medical care for thousands devastated by last week’s earthquake. On Sunday, Abe Van Wingerden of Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, N.C., provided this update on the relief efforts: – The Double Harvest team fed more than 3,000 people during the day Saturday in a kitchen/cafeteria that is set up to feed only 300. The tilapia farm has been a miracle as they await additional supplies. One fish can feed three people and they have more than 40,000 fish in the tilapia farm ready to eat, which was just built and finished in the last few months. – The Double Harvest team also gave out rice, eggs and fish to the five surrounding villages as hunger […]

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January 18, 2010

Hanna Introduces HI 5000 Mini Fertigator

Hanna Instruments recently unveiled its latest product, the HI 5000 Mini Fertigator, which is an all-in-one, ready-to-use control system. The Mini Fertigator is compact and versatile, bringing precision nutrient and acid control to professional growers. It’s easy to install and comes completely pre-assembled. To install the unit, growers simply attach two pipes and plug in the power cord. No wiring or assembly is required. To inject nutrients, the Mini Fertigator uses a venturi, so there are no high-maintenance peristaltic pumps to worry about. Hanna’s included Blackstone pump can handle full-strength acid, so there is no need to risk an accident with dilution. Hanna’s flat-tipped probes are also highly resistant to fouling and clogging. Additionally, an automated dosing feature allows growers to optimize growth without spending half the time measuring, mixing and dosing. The Mini Fertigator allows the grower to set precision dosing during vegetative stages, maximizing harvest and profit. For […]

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January 14, 2010

Irrigation Technology Reduces Waste Water

Forsta Filters has developed technology for reducing backwash waste water by as much as 75 percent. The company’s technology is called Green-Clean. Without interrupting system flow during backwash, Green-Clean technology utilizes smaller flush valves to minimize the volume of water required to remove buildup on a filter element. Using internal vacuum nozzles, the new Green-Clean system scans and removes debris from the filter in 15 seconds or less. This combination of short duration and small flush valve make the Green-Clean backwash cycle efficient. Forsta Filters offers a full line of self-cleaning water filters (1- to 36-inch flange size) with screen elements ranging from 5 to 4,000 micron. Integrating the Green-Clean technology in all products maximizes efficiency and reduces waste water and energy costs. Filters are constructed from all stainless steel and designed to provide a long-term solution to a wide range of industrial and municipal applications. For more information on […]

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January 6, 2010

Dramm Hires Les Evans

Dramm has hired Les Evans as its new technical representative for commercial sales. Evans has 15 years experience in the commercial horticulture industry. He has a bachelor’s degree in biological engineering with a concentration in water, soil and environmental engineering from North Carolina State University. With his background, he has been uniquely positioned to help clients understand their company’s resource allocation and help them become more sustainable, profitable businesses. “Les has been a great resource in the horticulture industry,” says Kurt Becker, director of marketing and sales at Dramm. “His wealth of experience and business objectives will be a great addition to our company.”     Evans will help clients on both the distributor and end-user levels for most of the Northeastern United States.  “It is a real honor to be a part of the Dramm Corporation,” he says. “I have had the pleasure of working with many of their people […]

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December 28, 2009

Open Your Mind To Open Roof

Why spend thousands of dollars every month to cool a greenhouse with exhaust fans when nature can do it for free? An open-roof greenhouse can drive down your energy costs significantly–but for many, this option has been priced out of reach.      No More Teardown It is no longer necessary to tear down a 30-year-old building and invest in a new structure to increase plant quality or decrease operating costs. With a Sun Ridge vent, it is possible to transform an outdated greenhouse into a modern, efficient growing environment. From pansies to poinsettias or wholesale to retail, the Sun Ridge is an upgrade for any greenhouse. A little money goes a long way with the Sun Ridge. Requiring the same motors as a traditional roof vent, the Sun Ridge more than doubles a grower’s vent opening without doubling a grower’s investment in equipment.  Are you planning to change your […]

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November 11, 2009

New Product: Sprayer Calibrator

Innoquest, designers and manufacturers of sensors and measurement instruments, unveils the SpotOn sprayer calibrator, a handheld electronic flow rate checker for spray nozzles. The SpotOn sprayer calibrator quickly and accurately measures flow rate, which helps to reduce the likelihood of inaccurate chemical application by validating nozzle performance. “Recent research indicates fewer than 5 percent of chemical applications have been within 5 percent of desired target rates,” says Bill Hughes, president of Innoquest. “This inaccuracy can cost growers between $2 and $12 per acre, which adds up over time and acres. The SpotOn Sprayer Calibrator helps reduce these inaccuracies.” Simple to use and maintain, the battery-powered SpotOn Sprayer Calibrator can be operated with one hand and is ideal for use in determining sprayer output and indicating when spray nozzles are worn or in need of replacement. After being placed under the nozzle tip, the SpotOn sprayer calibrator displays measurements in 10 […]

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October 29, 2009

Analyzing Soil Humidity Remotely: Your Sixth Sensor

Growing up, you learn that relationships are built on trust. Growing in a greenhouse, you learn the relationship you have with your plants is also built on trust–mostly trusting yourself when it comes to knowing what your crops like and don’t like, need and don’t need. Hoogendoorn Growth Management developed a wireless monitoring system called Sensiplant that determines the soil humidity of your container crops, so you can trust your watering regime a little more. Humidity Matters Sensiplant measures moisture in pots as a percentage, says Pete Hendriksen, North American sales manager at Hoogendoorn. “It determines what the moisture percentage is in a pot with various media, pot sizes and growing conditions. It’s wholly and specifically designed for the greenhouse industry.” Sensiplant is made up of sensors, wireless routers, an access point (your greenhouse computer) and a software program that analyzes measurements. Simply explained, Sensiplant sensors/transmitters are placed inside the […]

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October 19, 2009

Transplanter Tuneup

There are steps just about any grower can take to upgrade the efficiency of their plug transplanting line. And you don’t have to invest $150,000 in a new automated transplanter to do it. In fact, a basic set-up–a conveyor for hand-transplanting, a watering tunnel and a tagging machine–can improve the quality of the transplants and the efficiency of the process and lead to significant labor savings over a season.   Even the smallest growers can automate to some extent by having the material passing by on a conveyor as employees hand-transplant plugs into finish trays, says Rapid Automated’s Al Denning. “The belt speed sets the pace for the crew and they aren’t working on their own individual pace.”   Once the basics are in place, growers can increase their volume and continue to control labor costs by adding incremental pieces to the puzzle. “One piece of automation at a time […]

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October 19, 2009

Monitor Moisture Wirelessly

Growing up, you learn that relationships are built on trust. Growing in a greenhouse, you learn the relationship you have with your plants is also built on trust – mostly trusting yourself when it comes to knowing what your crops like and don’t like, need and don’t need.  Hoogendoorn Growth Management developed a wireless monitoring system called Sensiplant that determines the soil humidity of your container crops, so you can trust your watering regime a little more.  Humidity Matters Sensiplant measures moisture in pots as a percentage, says Pete Hendriksen, North American sales manager at Hoogendoorn. “It determines what the moisture percentage is in a pot with various media, pot sizes and growing conditions. It’s wholly and specifically designed for the greenhouse industry.”   Sensiplant is made up of sensors, wireless routers, an access point (your greenhouse computer) and a software program that analyzes measurements. Simply explained, Sensiplant sensors/transmitters are […]

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September 29, 2009

Hamilton Unveils New System Separator

Hamilton Engineering, manufacturer of the EVO product line, has released its newest low-loss header: the Hamilton System Separator. The system separator allows for an infinite number of heating zones and loads with precise water temperature control, while maintaining boiler efficiency through turbulent flow. It functions as the heating system’s hub, removing air, separating flows and acting as the primary dirt and sludge separator. The system also eliminates pump conflict, extra boiler room plumbing and protects a grower’s boiler from fluctuating pressures, thereby increasing a boiler’s efficiency.   For more information on the new system separator, call Hamilton Engineering at 800-968-5530, e-mail [email protected] or visit HamiltonEngineering.com.

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September 29, 2009

Ohio Operations Active In Energy Program

Applicant Name Grant Requested Loan Requested Technology Mapleview Farms, Inc. $9,525   Greenhouse Heater Replacement Corso’s Perennials $74,897   Wind Turbine: Small Coram Flora (on behalf of Green Circle Growers)   $7,500,000 Biomass Fuel Switch Knitz Greenhouse $14,180 $19,851 Wind Turbine: Small Eagle Creek Wholesale $25,679   Wind Turbine: Small Mohican Gardens $20,000   Geothermal Heating System Webb Perennials $7,865   Biomass Fired Boiiler USDA awarded nearly $12 million in funding this year to Ohio growers and farmers as part of its Rural Energy For America Program (REAP), and at least seven Ohio greenhouse operations were recipients of USDA funds. REAP loan guarantees and grants can be used for renewable energy systems, energy-efficiency improvements, feasibility studies and energy audits. More information about the REAP, which was authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill, is available at: www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/farmbill/index.html.  In Ohio alone, our industry received nearly two-thirds of the $12 million in funding awarded to businesses, […]

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