February 6, 2009

Plainview Growers’ Biomass System And Alternative Fuels Are Funded By Grants

Northeastern growers ushered in the new year by firing up alternative energy systems. These include biomass burning boilers for heat and wind turbines to generate electricity. In January, Arie van Vugt, owner of Plainview Growers fired up his new 500-hp Crone boiler from Holland in Allamuchy, N.J. While he is burning wood pellets this year and next, he will be planting 200 acres of miscanthus grass and harvesting his own fuel to pelletize and burn. “Arie and his sons are independently minded,” says Peter Stuyt, vice president of Total Energy Group, who worked with Plainview on the project. “Their goal is to take themselves off the grid, grow their own crop and add pelletizing. They are talking about buying another boiler already.” In addition to supplying the boiler technology, Total Energy Group has been providing growers access to equipment to produce their own fuel, as well as connections to fuel […]

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January 16, 2009

Superior Sustainability

Long before sustainability became a buzzword and corporations made headlines for using the right light bulbs, the Huntingtons made energy conservation a priority at Pleasant View Gardens in New Hampshire. But their latest innovations put even their own efforts in the shadows. Their new biomass boiler has the potential to reduce heating costs at their Pembroke, N.H., location by an incredible 85 percent. And their resume of energy- and labor-saving programs is helping their customers cut crop times by as much as 50 percent. Whatever it takes, Pleasant View puts the spotlight on increasing turns and decreasing costs. “We ask, ‘What can we do in our industry to be good to the environment and also save our grower customers and retailers money,'” says Carol Huntington, Pleasant View’s marketing manager. “We’re constantly being innovators and keeping our minds open.” Not Burning the Midnight Oil Installing a $2 million biomass burner and […]

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January 13, 2009

Pleasant View Cuts Heating Costs, Earns Grant

New Hampshire grower Pleasant View Gardens is installing a brand new biomass burner and boiler to heat a portion of its Pembroke location. In the process, it earned a $500,000 grant to do it. The grant came from the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Loans and Grants program. The biomass burner, which will burn wood chips, will cut the grower’s oil use to zero and potentially cut heating costs by 85 percent. The burner cost $2 million to install and will drop the total amount of oil used at Pleasant View’s two facilities by half–from 600,000 gallons for both locations to 350,000 gallons burned at the Loudon location. “Given drastic increases in heating costs, we knew it was time to make a move–alternate power was a natural choice for us,” says Henry Huntington, president of Pleasant View Gardens. “With oil prices on the rise, the proof is in the numbers. […]

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December 9, 2008

Plant Partner Users Have A Handheld Option

Growers using Starcom’s Plant Partner can now plug in that technology to use SBI handhelds in the greenhouse to manage inventory. Users can sync their SBI handhelds, and 100 percent of their Plant Partner inventory is updated to the handheld. Users can use the handheld in the greenhouse to plant, count, cycle count and dump. And once users sync the handhelds back to the system, the changes are updated in Starcom inventory. For more information, visit www.sbinursery.com.

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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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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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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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