How Tech Suppliers Are Helping Growers Find Solutions

The National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association’s (NGMA) Spring Meeting in Savannah, GA, in April is a great place for suppliers of structures and other greenhouse components to catch up on industry trends and regulations affecting the industry. In addition, many of these companies are spending long hours out in the field, helping growers come up with solutions to their most pressing problems.

Greenhouse Grower TECHNOLOGY recently reached out to NGMA members and asked them about some of their recent projects. Here are some of the builds and projects they highlighted (check out the slideshow above for a visual look).

Nexus Greenhouse Systems

Nexus recently worked with Prides Corner Farms in Lebanon, PA, to solve its need to change how the operation did its shipping. For years, Prides Corner had been shipping on a concrete pad with no protection from the weather for workers or plants, according to Christian Joseph, Prides Corner Farms’ Project Manager.

Working with Jeff Warschauer of Nexus, the operation designed a solution that includes seven Nexus Vails totaling 70,000 square feet. Roll-up sides and ends protect plants on cold, windy, rainy days. The roofs that face the south are Nexus corrugated metal and are equipped with solar panels. The north-facing roof slopes have clear corrugated metal for natural light and some free solar cover for winter days. The roofs have half Nexus Atrium roof vents to keep things cool in summer. The columns are 24 feet on center, thanks to the Nex-Beam column eliminators.

Stuppy, Inc.

In the winter of 2016, Woodburn Nursery & Azaleas in Woodburn, OR, presented Stuppy with a unique challenge. Could Stuppy help Woodburn renovate 4 acres of existing production greenhouses in a reasonable time and within a reasonable budget? The need to replace a worn-out roof covering, improve ventilation, and reduce long-term maintenance costs were compelling reasons for Woodburn to attempt this project.

Utilizing previous experiences, onsite engineering visits, and a collaborative design approach, Stuppy worked toward an innovative solution. A proof of concept test was performed in February of 2016, with construction commencing after the main growing season in May. In four quick months, the renovation was completed in August. The outcome included 4 acres of production space with new A-frame greenhouse roofs including 5-foot roof vents for natural ventilation.

Rough Brothers, Inc.

Rough Brothers recently designed a conversion kit to turn a seasonal retractable greenhouse into a permanent year-round greenhouse. Growers can save money by using the existing structural posts, as the retrofit kit adapts to the post tops and trusses to put a hard cover on the A-frame, or a poly cover over the flat shade.

According to Tom Vezdos at Rough Brothers, the company has worked with two growers recently on this type of project:
• Woodburn Nursery in Woodburn, OR: “We converted the sloped retractable roof to a hard covered polycarbonate.”
• Olson’s Greenhouse & Garden Center in Salem, UT: “We converted the retractable flat shade to a double-poly gothic arch.”

The Retractable Conversion 365 Kit includes the following:
A-Frame: This provides the simple style of a traditional greenhouse structure with the technology of a modern system, and is widely used in retail, production, and head house applications. With a variety of glazing options available, including glass, 8 mm, or 16 mm polycarbonate, or insulated panel, the A-Frame can span up to 60 feet.
• Custom widths and heights
• Standard sizes include 20 feet 6 inches, 24 feet, 30 feet, 36 feet, 42 feet, 50 feet, and 60 feet
• Complete design specs available
PolyArch RD2: The RD2-Poly Arch has been value engineered to meet the economic needs of an assortment of growers. The RD2 is a gutter connected robust structure that controls environments like higher-end structures. The simple design of the greenhouse allows for easy installation.
• Custom widths and heights
• Standard sizes include 20 feet 6 inches, 24 feet, 30 feet, 36 feet, 42 feet, 50 feet, and 60 feet
• Complete design specs available.

Wadsworth Controls

Randy Harrold, the Agriculture teacher at Laurel Junior Senior High School in New Castle, PA, began teaching at the school two years after the school built a greenhouse in 2009. He realized immediately that he had a problem with the greenhouse.

“I came in during the summer before school started,” Harrold says. “The greenhouse was too hot for plants to survive even with the evaporative coolers running.”

It was a visit by Amanda Debevc from Wadsworth Controls that spurred him to act.

“We have a STEP Up, and Amanda came to visit regarding the control,” Harrold says. “I told her that with our humidity and sunlight, the coolers were ineffective and couldn’t support a healthy growing environment.”

Debevc suggested a shade cloth and explained what it would entail from ordering to installation. Harrold then wrote a grant to offset the cost of the curtain system, and soon had his curtain system.

Now, the evaporative coolers run minimally, and the greenhouse is growing a better, healthier crop.

“Each spring, we grow plants for a fundraiser,” Harrold says. “Without the shade cloth, our tomato plants were spindly and tall. Now, with the even light distribution, our plants are thicker and bushy. It’s also less work for me. The plants do well when the greenhouse is an ideal growing environment.”

Since acquiring a shade cloth, a big change in Harrolds life is freedom on the weekends. Before installing the shade cloth, he says he felt that he needed to stop in over the weekend, especially on three-day weekends.

Now, he can do as he pleases, including leaving town with worrying about his crop.

“I have peace of mind knowing the greenhouse environment is consistent and healthy for our plants,” Harrold says.

Vostermans Ventilation

In modern greenhouses, ventilation plays a vital role. According to Ben Clark at Vostermans Ventilation, the newest generation of the Multifan V-FloFan is extremely useful for numerous greenhouse applications by reducing humidity levels, creating a constant airflow, and keeping a consistent temperature throughout the facility.

“I have been growing in a greenhouse using conventional fans for three years,” says Justin Juranek of Healing House, a cannabis greenhouse in Pueblo, CO. “I was constantly struggling with inconsistent temperatures and fluctuation in humidity. After installing the V-FloFan in one of our flower rooms, we immediately saw a positive impact in multiple areas. The first thing we noticed was a truly consistent temperature throughout the room. We also were able to see an instant impact on our high humidity levels. The fans were able to help move trapped air under a canopy and help it get exhausted out. That also helped with potential mold and mildew problems because we were able to move air in every inch of the room compared to the restrictions that we had with the conventional fans in the peaks.”

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