Building Taller & Stronger by Scott Thompson

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 the overall destiny of any growing operation.

Of course, this is a very simplified version of the greenhouse model. However, most production facilities must consider each of these elements in their business plans to be successful. Where they produce, how close they are to their market and definition of their customers will all have a huge impact on what is ultimately designed and built.

Growers around the world are managing their businesses with new challenges every day. Currently, and moving forward, the emphasis is energy consumption. Greenhouse super structures will need to be fabricated from more durable, lighter weight materials that not only capture the heat, but hold it and transfer it to the crop being produced.

Covering materials, whether rigid or flexible, glass or plastic, will be asked to do the same–gather more light as well as capture and redirect that energy. Water retention, treatment and recirculation for crop irrigation will be paramount to success. Engineers and designers have considered alternative sources of fuel and water resource recovery for decades. However, they have not been cost effective. The future of our industry and the ability to grow our sector will be based on a combination of vital issues and concerns.

First, we must convince our current politicians how important our business sector is in regard to green, being green and continued sustainability–whether it’s green food or green ornamentals.

Second, we need to convince those same politicians to provide us with tax credits or tax incentives at the individual and commercial level to design and install alternative energy in our homes and businesses. We have the technology. It must be more affordable.

Third, we need to put a greater emphasis on education and workplace initiatives that demonstrate how important our industry is to students of all ages. We need to ensure growth without compromising our natural resources, so we must attract the brightest minds to join our industry. Increased scholarship and internship opportunities should help create future employees who will share in the spirit of our industry.

Fourth, we must encourage greenhouse growers to incorporate new technologies into their facilities when the opportunity arises. We should build taller, stronger houses that allow for more air volume and maintain greater temperature uniformity. Cover them with IR poly films, triple wall UV polycarbonates or laminated glass to manage heat, light and safety more efficiently and effectively. We should:

– Install screening systems to regulate solar gain during the day and reduce heat loss at night.

– Capture and store water from the roof, as well as inside the facility, and recycle and reuse it for irrigation.

– Incorporate material handling systems that allow growers and their labor force greater efficiency and increased productivity.

– Create opportunities on the property for the incorporation of wind or solar collection and energy collection areas.

– Control these facilities and the associated equipment with the latest in environmental control equipment and weather monitoring devices.

– Capture data generated daily from these operations to allow for better growing practices and continued refinement in each production area.

None of these changes will happen overnight. It is an evolutionary process. Our world and its economies are changing daily, driven by a global marketplace fed by the Internet and devoured by all those that desire to share in these opportunities. Controlled environment agribusiness is continually expanding and will produce challenges and opportunities for all. Those who develop and trial these new technologies have the most to benefit. Food and fuel will be grown in greenhouses at levels not seen on radar several years ago. “Structurally lean” and “culturally green” will be the mantras for the next 25 years.

Leave a Reply

More From Structures...
BrightFarms Ohio

October 18, 2017

Leafy Greens Grower BrightFarms Building New 120,000 Square-Foot Facility

The operation will provide locally grown salad greens and herbs to supermarkets in the Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus, OH, metropolitan areas.

Read More
Rough Brothers HopsHouse

October 18, 2017

New Greenhouse Aimed at Hydroponic Hops Producers

The new greenhouse model is the first single-solution hydroponic greenhouse for year-round hops growth, and harvests anywhere from two to five times a year.

Read More
GVZ Glasshouses

October 12, 2017

How to Deal With Common Greenhouse Maintenance Issues

The most common problems often come from a lack of cleanliness and faulty equipment. Here are a number of tips you can follow in each of these areas.

Read More
Latest Stories
BrightFarms Ohio

October 18, 2017

Leafy Greens Grower BrightFarms Building New 120,000 Sq…

The operation will provide locally grown salad greens and herbs to supermarkets in the Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus, OH, metropolitan areas.

Read More
Rough Brothers HopsHouse

October 18, 2017

New Greenhouse Aimed at Hydroponic Hops Producers

The new greenhouse model is the first single-solution hydroponic greenhouse for year-round hops growth, and harvests anywhere from two to five times a year.

Read More
GVZ Glasshouses

October 12, 2017

How to Deal With Common Greenhouse Maintenance Issues

The most common problems often come from a lack of cleanliness and faulty equipment. Here are a number of tips you can follow in each of these areas.

Read More
Youngs Greenhouse Space Growing Feature

August 14, 2017

How Young’s Plant Farm Invests in New Structures and Eq…

The Auburn, AL-based Top 100 Grower operation is improving its production infrastructure so it can continue to efficiently produce quality plants and keep up with demand.

Read More
CS3 Greenhouse (Stuppy)

June 4, 2017

7 Factors That Can Determine the Cost of Building a New…

Want to know the main factors that determine the cost of building a new greenhouse? Phil Bishop of Stuppy has put together an overview of the expenses involved in this type of project.

Read More
Dallas Johnson Greenhouses

May 28, 2017

Growers Offer Advice on What to Know Before Your Next B…

Two Top 100 Growers discuss their most recent building projects, the challenges they addressed, and what they learned during the process.

Read More
GGS Cannabis Production

April 19, 2017

Suppliers Can Offer Technical Solutions for New Cannabi…

Here’s a look at how a few manufacturers have partnered with growers to make their transition into cannabis a smooth one, whether it’s through hands-on guidance or partnering with other industry leaders.

Read More
GrowSpan Series 1000 Greenhouse (GrowSpan) feature

March 24, 2017

New Greenhouse Structure Models Emphasize Crop Protecti…

Manufacturers of new structure models say they are responding to grower concerns with designs that focus on ventilation, maximizing your space, and incorporating a wide range of crops. Here’s a look at some of their latest offerings.

Read More
Brian Munchel

March 18, 2017

Brian Munchel of Ludy Greenhouse Manufacturing Dies at …

Munchel, a long-time member of the National Greenhouse Manufacturing Association, worked at Ludy Greenhouse Manufacturing for more than 30 years and was a computer-aided draftsman.

Read More
Nexus Atrium for Prides Corner

March 15, 2017

How Tech Suppliers Are Helping Growers Find Solutions

Greenhouse structures and components manufacturers highlight some of their most recent projects.

Read More

February 15, 2017

Growers Planning to Invest in Structures in 2017

Data from this year’s Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry survey indicates that growers are planning to make major investments in structures and facility upgrades this year.

Read More
NVAC Greenhouse prototype

February 15, 2017

New Greenhouse Cooling System in Development for Hot-Cl…

Researchers at McGill University in Quebec have developed an alternative evaporative cooling solution for greenhouses in warm climates, and are now seeking commercial partners.

Read More

February 15, 2017

Registration Open for NGMA Spring Meeting

The annual gathering of the National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association will feature a look at green industry trends, emerging market opportunities, and more.

Read More
EFTE Film

January 18, 2017

Looking at Glass or Polyethylene for Your New Structure…

Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene, also known as EFTE, is a fluorine-based material that looks like a standard polyethylene greenhouse film but offers high light transmittance.

Read More
Nadia Sabeh, CEAC

January 18, 2017

Upcoming Seminars to Focus on Managing the Greenhouse E…

The seminars, which will also be accessible online, are presented by the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center.

Read More

November 16, 2016

Stay Up To Date On Greenhouse Structures And Materials

eGro, an online resource for greenhouse growers, features a series of video lectures and tutorials on a wide variety of topics, including greenhouse structures and terminology, heating and cooling, and more.

Read More
Dual Atrium Greenhouse (Nexus)

October 12, 2016

Gibraltar Industries Acquires Nexus Corporation

The building manufacturer and distributor strengthens its position in the U.S. greenhouse market, complementing its RBI greenhouse company with the aquisition of Nexus Corp.

Read More
Gotham Greens Atrium Style Greenhouse Chicago

September 14, 2016

How An Energy Audit Of Your Greenhouse Can Save You Mon…

Is your greenhouse utility bill getting you down? Consider an energy audit to evaluate potential energy savings.

Read More