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

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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June 19, 2008

Retrofitting Options

Retrofitting a greenhouse is all about spending money to save money. In many cases, increased energy efficiency may be the easiest way to see new technologies impact the bottom line. However, the benefit of improved crop performance should not be overlooked as a factor in the bottom line savings (or rather gains)–from faster turns and fewer chemicals to improved labor conditions and reduced disease potential. Though there are numerous components of a greenhouse where retrofitting may result in greater efficiency, this article will focus on those that influence temperature and light. Shade Netting For years, shade netting was available in black with the amount of shade determined by how tightly knit the fabric was woven. The purpose was primarily to reduce heat or light. Over the years, new colors have been introduced, including an aluminum covered fiber, in an effort to manage the light while reducing the heat. Frank Giglia, […]

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June 19, 2008

Attacking Growers’ Diverse Challenges

No two greenhouses are alike. Each has its own set of differences, such as the crops, the climate, the production volume, the existing facilities and more. It is also true that no two greenhouse builders are exactly alike in their approaches to the challenges provided by the diversity of growers. "Most of the commercial growers we deal with have a little bit of glass and have a little bit of polyethylene, as well as some longer-term plastics covering," says Scott Thompson, executive vice president at X.S. Smith Inc., Washington, N.C. "They like to see a mixture, because at certain times of the year or in stages of their production cycle, those areas are constantly in operation. Our mission is to try to design and create systems that will accommodate their particular production needs for the crop they grow, as well as the region where they are producing that crop." Maintaining temperatures […]

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June 19, 2008

Repelling Radiant Energy

For bedding plant growers who grow every month of the year, shading, cooling and ventilating prevent greenhouses from overheating and creating a stressful environment for the plants. The greenhouse was developed for plant protection against local climatic extreme pressures such as wind, rain, snow and insects. The greenhouse structure is the starting point for controlling the climate or for creating a climate that is tolerable and ideal for plants. If one is growing year-round most anywhere in North America, there are certain months when overheating is a problem. The plants being grown need to be protected from a too stressful environment. Ventilating and/or cooling must be used to drive the temperature down. From a practical perspective, the first step in the cooling of a greenhouse is to ventilate it or exchange the captured heat with fresh, outdoor air. For example, let the wind extract the hot air or install exhaust fans […]

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June 19, 2008

Which Watering Method Is Best?

What are the general rules of watering? There are three main rules of watering. – Use a well-drained substrate. When the root substrate is drained and aerated, proper watering can be achieved, giving the plant desirable texture and structure. – Water thoroughly each time. It is important to water all of the substrate each time the water is applied so that the water reaches the roots and produces a healthy plant. – Water before moisture stress occurs. You should water just before moisture stress occurs. The result is a properly aerated system as well as healthy root development.  What types of watering systems are there? There are several methods and ways to water plants. Generally they fall into the following categories: hand watering, sprinklers and mini-sprinklers, booms, sub-irrigation and drip. There are both closed and open systems. What is a closed system? A closed irrigation system is any method for […]

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June 19, 2008

New Equipment Woes

Does this font make me look fat? OK, don’t answer that. If you think you notice something different about Greenhouse Grower this month but can’t quite put your finger on it, you’re right. We have new fonts. It’s a mini-makeover, a grooming. The new fonts are just the visible part of a huge overhaul going on here at Meister Media Worldwide. Our editors, artists and production staff have switched page layout software, moving from Quark to InDesign. And it hasn’t been a completely painless process. There are new keystrokes and workflows to learn, but ultimately this move brings us into the 21st century. Even though we all knew that this switch would increase productivity and add a few tools that would make work easier, I think we all resisted, at least a little. Yes, new is good, but it also takes a while to get used to. Now I have a […]

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