June 20, 2008

Controlling All Possibilities

Environmental controls can do a lot these days, so how can growers better utilize controls? What are the latest technologies and tips for greenhouse controls? We asked environmental controls suppliers these questions and here are their responses.  Open Systems & Keeping Histories by ALEC MACKENZIE Argus Controls  With the release of our new Titan control platform, Argus has extended the power and flexibility of automated equipment control for commercial growers. Our system anticipates the need for new ways of operating greenhouses to minimize energy and water use, and for increasing productivity. It is designed to handle the new structures, equipment and growing practices that we foresee will be needed in response to increasing energy costs and tighter margins. Accordingly, we have taken an open systems approach to configuring equipment control capabilities. We provide a suite of programs designed for the efficient operation of typical greenhouse equipment such as vents, mixing valves, etc. […]

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June 20, 2008

Lightweight Champion

    PBH’s size, shape and bulking properties produce optimum air-filled pore space, water-holding capacity and drainage for greenhouse and container production. It can be blended with peat, bark and coir to produce substrates suitable for a wide range of growing requirements.  Because PBH is lightweight and compressed when packaged, it requires less storage space and reduces handling and freight costs. It is uniquely processed to ensure purity and is sized, cleaned and subjected to a series of heat treatments that sterilize the rice hulls and render any residual rice kernels, weed seed or disease pathogens non-viable. Minimal dust improves the mixing environment. “Our employees really like that it is less dusty, and because of the compressed bale, there is less handling,” says Jim White, owner of White’s Greenhouse in Godfrey, Ill. “I like that the compressed bales require less storage space. I can have more material on hand with […]

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June 20, 2008

New Product Shorts

Warm & Toasty Roberts-Gordon LLC: The Combat by Roberts-Gordon AT-Series indirect-fired air turnover units offer heating flexibility with filtration and cooling options, as well as 48-inch extension sections to increase unit height to user specifications. The units are available in air volumes from 45,000 to 100,000 CFM. Portable Climate Management Climate Control Systems: The Climate Manager works with multi micro computers, processing many instructions per second. This computing power gives the grower the ability to access their climate computer with a Web browser or Blackberry. Work Smarter Onset Computer: The Temperature/RH Smart Sensor for Hobo Weather Station Products is now available. It provides reliability in humid environments and improved temperature accuracy over previous models. This version features a replaceable RH sensor and Smart Sensor design that allows plug-and-play connection to weather stations. Green Light EYE Lighting International: The Hortilux LU250S/HTL/EN lamp features exclusive chemistry and global technology to deliver 30,500 […]

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June 19, 2008

New Product Shorts

Super Model GF Delta T Solutions:   Shield tubular gas-fired unit heaters are the newest product offering in Delta T Solutions’ full line of greenhouse heating systems. Also called the Model GF, this complete heating system offers innovative features that make it a long-lasting and reliable source of safe, efficient and economical greenhouse heating. Some key product features of the Model GF heaters include stainless steel construction designed to withstand moisture and chemicals and a tubular heat exchanger for significantly longer life.  Tough Tunnel Agra Tech: The Agra Hi-Tunnel is designed to cover very large areas and can withstand high winds and pounding rain. Constructed of high tensile galvanized tubing, installation is simple and requires no concrete foundation. In addition, the Agra Hi-Tunnel can be covered with Poly or cloth for further protection from undesirable climate and insects. Sure Thing CH2O Incorporated: CH2O has introduced its patented Sure Flow irrigation […]

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June 19, 2008

Fueling Expansion

Generation X growers are ready for tomorrow’s challenges. Pictured from left are John Bonner, sister Jill Cain with husband Todd Cain. When we visited, they were growing Easter crops in new greenhouses.In less than 10 years, Eagle Creek Growers in Mantua, Ohio, has emerged as a model mid-sized operation with room to grow. The modern growing operation was founded in 1998 by Jill (Bonner) Cain about an hour’s drive southeast of Cleveland. She was fresh out of college, implementing a business plan she drafted for a course at Ohio University. Up until recently, Eagle Creek’s primary customer was Eagle Creek Garden Center, an upscale destination garden center she opened in nearby Bainbridge four years later. In 2003, her brother, John Bonner, and husband, Todd Cain, took over the wholesale operation while Jill focused most of her time on retail. Both John and Jill are third-generation entrepreneurs in our industry. Their grandfather, […]

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June 19, 2008

Who’s Your Mr. Fix-It?

To be honest, greenhouses mystify me. I don’t know how all of you out there do it. So much can go wrong–disease and pests, nutrition–and that’s just problems with your plants. Your structures are a whole other story. There are so many things to worry about–not enough heat, too much heat, expensive heat, water logistics. And, of course, there are the more extreme worries–debilitating hurricanes, fires and snowstorms. Getting ahead and staying ahead of structures issues is a job in itself, forget about growing great plants. That’s why we were so impressed when we visited Eagle Creek’s greenhouses in Mantua, Ohio. Siblings John Bonner and Jill Cain gave us the grand tour of the facilities, but Gary Jansen, the facility’s maintenance magician and all-around Mr. Fix-It, really impressed us. The facility has switched its fuel source from petroleum-based products to wood-based products. And the mid-sized operation has two huge indoor pools […]

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June 19, 2008

Under New Management

Last fall, the National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association (NGMA) contracted with Calabrese Management, an organizational management firm based in Harrisburg, Pa. After 10 years with its previous executive director, Melanie Hughes of Hughes & Stuart Marketing in Littleton, Colo., NGMA is sure to go through some changes. NGMA’s new executive director, Denise R. Calabrese, owner of Calabrese Management, says her firm’s goal is to work with the volunteer leadership to strengthen NGMA as an organization. “We will be working with the board of directors to analyze existing programs and ensure that the needs of the industry are met,” she says. Some of these more imminent improvements, she adds, will be in the organization’s communication structure–improving NGMA’s Web site and newsletter, and increasing electronic communications. On the educational side, NGMA’s meeting agendas will be strengthened to provide valuable information to the industry, Calabrese says. For instance, the annual meeting NGMA hosts each spring […]

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June 19, 2008

NGMA: The Next Generation

Fifty years makes a huge difference in the evolution of greenhouse architecture. From lean-tos and quonsets to gutter-connected, retractable-roof structures, commercial greenhouses have gained much from advances in technology. With more modern greenhouses have come advancements in the “furniture” to fill them, also known as greenhouse equipment and supplies, as well as innovative plastic films, which have revolutionized greenhouse shapes and framing systems. The growth of commercial floriculture and greenhouse vegetables over the years has fueled demand for greenhouse technology, and new manufacturers have emerged, raising competition and quality standards. All of this innovation needed organization–enter the National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association (NGMA). Founded in 1958, NGMA represents 65 member companies–27 component, 14 structural and nine service. These include greenhouse manufacturers, equipment manufacturers and suppliers, as well as researchers, students, growers and other allied trades serving the international horticulture industry. Retrofitting Itself Today, NGMA is working to promote and defend greenhouse construction […]

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June 19, 2008

What About Structures?

Our Top 100 Growers survey turned up opinions and plans for structures from companies that have the most greenhouse space in the country. Here’s how they responded:  Are you planning any structural expansion in the next year? 54% No 46% Yes  If so, how many acres will you build? Average: 10.9 acres High: 100 acres Low: 1 acre Average turns per square foot: 2.7 High: 6 Low: 0.6  Average sales per foot: $10.38 High: $30 Low: $1.20  

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June 19, 2008

A Dose Of Precision

Seeking to improve chemical drenching applications, Dramm Corporation has redesigned its popular Chemdose precision drenching system. The new Chemdose 2 system can be worn on the chest or mounted on a small cart for portability. The CD2 connects to the hose from your injector or sprayer (under 100 psi) and accurately measures the solution into even, selectable doses with the push of a button. Push another button and the Chemdose 2 will meter out those doses on a variable interval basis. Utilizing the CD2’s digital controls, growers may select the amount of the dose, change the interval between automatic doses, count the doses made, set a maximum number of doses limit and even lock out the controls. The previous units operated well but were limited by their tank size, power requirements and hose lengths. The CD2 Chemdose eliminates those limitations by functioning as a hose end unit. The CD2 can be […]

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June 19, 2008

Easy Control

Link4’s iControl is a PC-based program designed to monitor and control up to 16 zones of iGrow1400 controllers. With a very simple layout and clearly defined buttons, it’s designed to make everything from changing setpoints, viewing historical graphs and data, adjusting equipment settings and all other controls a breeze. Unlike some systems that require a PC to be running at all times, iControl simply changes settings on your iGrow1400. The benefit of this design is that each iGrow1400 works independently, making the iGrow/iControl combination an extremely robust, flexible and easy-to-use system. “From the beginning, we’ve really focused on making greenhouse controls easy for our customers,” says Dan Thompson, vice president at Link4. “iControl and Smart Cool are right in step with that philosophy.” Another notable new item from Link4 is the Smart Cool feature found on the iGrow1400. Understanding that every greenhouse absorbs, retains, and releases energy differently, the Smart […]

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June 19, 2008

Get Equipped

Automatic Pick-Up Javo: The JAVO Compact is a linear robot which, among other things, is suitable for completely automatic pick-up and placing of high and top-heavy potted plants and/or the accurate placing of plants into a plant carrier. The revolutionary and patented underneath return principle is the base of a very reliable function. High capacity (up to 600 strokes per hour) takes care of the efficiency. For more information, go to www.javonl.com. Steady Flow  Rapid Automated Systems: By mechanizing your sticking crew, you can get a substantial increase in productivity. Built from aluminum, steel and stainless steel, this sticking line will provide a steady flow of material to your crew. It is available in 8, 16 and 24 station models and can be integrated with your filler or Ellegard machine. For more information, go to www.rapidautomated.com.  Versatile Dibbler  Blackmore:  The new Blackmore Dribbler with Wiper prepares Ellepots for sticking, dibbling […]

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