December 3, 2008

Software Partnerships And Integration

Unity within our industry is a huge catalyst for growth so we are committed to expanding our value through strategic partnerships and integrations. Our most recent partnership and integration is with Ball Seed. It will allow growers to receive purchase orders (PO) from Ball Seed, confirm plantings of POs, verify weekly availability and receive shipments all electronically over the Internet. In the future, more growers will demand from technology the ability to produce better products more efficiently. This is why we believe handhelds and production management software are the future.  In a nutshell, handhelds increase inventory visibility while reducing labor and increasing accuracy. Production management software gives growers the ability to manage production based on historical data, not just intuition, which will ultimately help grow better product with less resources. Another piece of technology on the horizon for us is the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID). With RFID, truckloads of plants […]

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December 3, 2008

Automating Nutrition

The biggest trend I see for growers is the need to inject different fertilizer or different amounts of fertilizer to different crops, where and when they choose. Today, plant material varieties vary widely in their fertilizer requirements. No longer is it practical to run the same fertilizer and fertilizer concentrations throughout the entire greenhouse range. Looking to the future, growers will need dedicated fertilizer injectors for each crop so that they can have total flexibility to inject any fertilizer formulation, pesticide, plant growth regulator, etc., at will. All of this will be done through automated watering systems, thus eliminating watering errors and extra labor costs. Growers will continue to demand injectors that are highly accurate and reliable while also being easy to use and maintain. Companies that excel in customer service and offer advanced technology to obtain that service will become the leaders in this field. Long gone will be […]

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November 19, 2008

Fire Engulfs Aldershot Of New Mexico Facility

A packing and shipping building at Aldershot of New Mexico caught fire last Thursday in Mesilla Park, N.M. A welder’s torch caused the fire, authorities say, sparking insulation and eventually gutting the building in a massive fire that reignited for a few minutes Friday afternoon. Greenhouses filled with poinsettias, tulips, mums, roses and other potted plants were untouched, The Las Cruces Sun-News reported. As of the weekend, a damage estimate had yet to be determined. Owner Peter Vanderlugt, however, anticipates being able to fill most holiday contracts. He also expects to maintain his entire staff of 100 employees despite the potential cost damages. Multiple firefighting agencies responded Thursday, including county volunteers, the city of Las Cruces and White Sands fire departments.

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November 11, 2008

Learning To Conserve by A.J. Both

Rising energy costs this century have had a particularly severe impact on the greenhouse industry because structures are generally designed for maximum light transmissions and not maximum heat retention. While fluctuations in future energy prices are likely, the general consensus is that prices will remain high. Energy use and management will continue to have a significant impact on our industry. While it is likely conventional and alternative energy sources will continue to be used by the greenhouse industry, new improved energy collection and storage technologies offer the potential for future commercial greenhouses to be net energy producers rather than energy consumers. Conservation The past three decades have shown that before considering the installation of new energy equipment, it literally paid to operate existing energy systems as efficiently as possible. Over the next decades, it is likely the cost of implementing energy conservation measures will continue to be less than the […]

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November 11, 2008

Building Taller & Stronger by Scott Thompson

In order to envision where our structure design and technology will go in the future, one really needs to evaluate the history and current state of production facilities in the industry. Location and climate will continue to dictate the overall design of facilities. Also important is the “labor quotient.” Will a crop demand considerable labor to grow, harvest, pack and ship, or will it be completely automated with equipment that will control uniformity, efficiency and quality control of the product? Over the past 25 years, we have seen greater automation take place within specifically designed buildings to grow specific crops. This specialization allows the designers to narrow their focus and concentrate on the environment required for that particular crop, unit size produced and the rotation of each crop cycle. These design issues, when combined with light, water, heat and cooling implications on the crop, have and will continue to determine […]

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October 29, 2008

Top Dramm Valve Now Weighs Less

The only complaints Dramm ever received about its brass shutoff valve surrounded its weight. The valve was simply a tad too heavy, but Dramm introduces the No. 22373 aluminum body shutoff to address this concern. The original product is still available in brass as product No. 300. The new-look valve is crafted with the same engineering, design and components, and the company says its new aluminum body valve is just as durable as the original. The fact the body of the valve is now crafted using aluminum reduces the weight by about one-third. For more information on the new valve or other Dramm products, visit www.dramm.com.

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October 15, 2008

New Svensson Screens Let More Light In

Climate screens with light-diffusing properties have tended to use a transparent material to achieve diffusion, but Svensson has developed a new range of screens that provide a higher grade of diffusion using both transparent and white strips. The screens are solar reflecting, and they’re suitable for cut flowers and pot plants. The XLS Harmony Revolux is being introduced at Horti Fair. Not unlike other forms of light diffusion, the key benefit of a Harmony screen is its ability to allow more light onto the crop while maintaining a lower temperature. And because the light reaches the plant from more angles, the upper canopies are less inclined to overheat. To understand how high-grade light diffusion can benefit the crop in real life, Harmony screens were installed at the Guzman/Europlantas greenhouse in Spain under the control of Danish production manager Benny Hansen. Guzman/Europlantas produces ornamental pot plants and offers more than 200 […]

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October 6, 2008

Structures Company Expanding Into North America

V&V Agricultural Greenhouses, a Dutch structures company with responsibilities throughout Europe, plans to expand its business into North America. V&V specializes in complete turnkey glass greenhouse projects worldwide, and it will build the greenhouse right through to the supply and installation of all technical systems. Gord Bonisteel will direct the company’s expansion into North America. Greenhouse structures, glass and aluminum extrusions are all produced at V&V, which can provide standard Venlo glass greenhouses with sizes of 8, 9.6 and 12.8 meters. V&V will also fulfill custom orders, and it will make sure construction is perfectly configured and in line with local standards. For more information on V&V Agricultural Greenhouses, click here. Or, check out the V&V booth at Horti Fair.

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September 22, 2008

Transplanting Technology

Eight months into the job, Speedling Inc.’s president and CEO David Robbins has been exploring the potential to expand the plug producer’s global footprint in vegetables and ornamentals while bringing transplant technology to a wide range of agricultural markets. Based in Sun City, Fla., Speedling is owned by Wearn Brothers Ltd. (WBL) in Singapore. It has eight production facilities in the United States and 10 in China. In the U.S. ornamentals market, Speedling ranks at No. 5 on our Top 100 Growers with 5,322,000 square feet of greenhouse production, 37 percent of which is offshore. On our Top 25 Young Plant Growers, Speedling ranks at No. 4, producing more than 300 million plugs a year. Robbins came to Speedling from perennials powerhouse Northwest Horticulture in Mt. Vernon, Wash. Prior to that, he was COO and CFO of vegetable transplant grower Greenheart Farms in California for 13 years. He expanded that […]

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September 22, 2008

Optional Flexibility

Businesses face a never-ending fight to control costs. For today’s growers, that means finding ways to minimize capital greenhouse expenses, energy costs and lost product. The Nexus Atrium and Dual Atrium technology addresses each of those concerns, providing growers with both cost control and flexibility in running their operations. “We are committed to understanding the needs of our customers, so we’re very much in tune with the cost and market pressures they face,” says Jeff Warschauer, vice president of sales for Nexus. “That understanding enables us to develop technologies that address our customers’ key issues, whether to control energy costs or to increase protection of crops due to sudden weather change.” The Nexus Atrium and Dual Atriums offer distinct advantages, from energy efficiency to plant protection. The cornerstone of the Atrium’s design is a unique ridge vent that opens outward and upward from the top of the ridge, providing a […]

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September 22, 2008

Let The Sun Shine In (Again)

I’ve been noticing lately that my tendency towards unreasonable perfectionism has increased in inverse proportion to the amount of time I have to perfect something. In other words, I’m not mellowing with age, a revelation which comes as no surprise to those around me most. So when I received some suggestions that my glazings overview article (“Let The Sun Shine In,” GG Mid-May ’06) wasn’t comprehensive enough, I figured I’d dedicate a column to patching the holes in my poly coverage. After that article, this column and all my laps of the tradeshow floor at OFA’s Short Course this year, I’m really hoping the supply of new glazings is as exhausted as I am! The Transmitter Kalwall Corporation has introduced its newest product, Sun-Lite HP, a glass fiber-reinforced polymer glazing that provides diffused light throughout the greenhouse. It transmits only the part of the UV spectrum (0.33 to 0.38 microns) […]

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September 18, 2008

Weathering The Winter

Well, it’s soon to be winter again. Those hot summer days are but memories to many growers, and it’s time to winterize your greenhouse. Your greenhouse should be checked inside and out to reduce winter disasters. Beginning on the exterior, check that all of your doors close and seal properly. A poor closing door blown open in the middle of a cold winter night could be disastrous, not to mention potential heat loss. Repair any holes that your forklift or other equipment might have put in the wall coverings. To increase your usable sunlight during winter’s low light levels, wash your roof and wall coverings. Check your poly manufacturer for specific instructions on cleaning. But for the most part, just use warm soapy water–nothing abrasive–and a soft cloth, and it will clean up nicely. Make sure you specifically clean any place you will be applying poly patch so it will […]

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