The Energy Efficient Greenhouse

SolaWrap 12-Foot Roll Up Curtain
SolaWrap 12-Foot Roll Up Curtain

When it comes to covering a greenhouse, all growers want similar things: strength, durability, protection from the elements, energy efficiency and cost savings. Today’s technology rises to the challenge by offering a variety of products that improve growing conditions inside, no matter what the weather’s doing outside. We checked with manufacturers to see what’s new and uncovered some best practices for buttoning up your greenhouse. Here’s what you need to know about the latest trends.

Trend 1: Diffused Light

As any grower knows, light and temperature are two keys to cultivating a successful crop. In the past, coverings didn’t account for light variations within the structure. To avoid uneven crop production, someone would have to rotate the plants inside the greenhouse. Diffuse films, such as AT Films’ Luminance, solve this problem.

“Diffusing the light as it enters the greenhouse helps evenly disperse it throughout the greenhouse, creating a much more even light canopy,” says AT Film’s Account Manager Amy Lynch.

“This means the plants are getting light all around them and not just in the direct light path of the sun, therefore reducing stretching. The dispersion of light will eliminate shadows within the greenhouse, which is especially beneficial to the grower who has hanging baskets and bedding plants. Luminance will also help reduce the heat load in the greenhouse in the warmer months and reduce the amount of temperature spikes throughout the day. And it’s a thermal film, so it will help to retain more heat in the cooler months.”

Trend 2: Durability

Many of today’s films have an unmatched durability that becomes apparent when growers look to the warranty. Some companies tout a 10-year guarantee with a life expectancy of up to 30 years.

“One trend in coverings are better films that last for a long, long time,” says SolaWrap’s Agricultural Sales Manager Kenneth Aguilar. “When choosing a covering, a grower should consider light, strength for snow and wind, life expectancy and the warranty of the manufacturer.”

In the durability category, Aguilar says SolaWrap can take quite a beating. The product’s snow load is 120 pounds per square foot, and it has a wind load of 122-plus miles per hour.

Trend 3: Flexibility

Growers often have a number of different structures to accommodate their production needs. Thankfully, this doesn’t necessarily require different coverings for each one. Part of Solexx’s charm, for example, is versatility.

“Many coverings are made of polycarbonate, but Solexx is made with high-density polyethylene. The difference is that it’s flexible,” says Blair Busenbark, chief operating officer at Adaptive Plastics, the company that makes Solexx. “It can go over hoop houses or arched structures. Solexx can be used on sidewalls, doors — anywhere you can think to put it. If you crease it, you can bend it back or run it around the corner. This results in a very tight greenhouse.”

Horizontal and vertical installation with pre-cut or custom length rolls also means less waste and fewer seams for optimally insulated structures.

Trend 4: Layers

The saying is “less is more,” but some coverings manufacturers have found that more film is actually more efficient. Lumite, the company behind Sun Master greenhouse films, is coming out with the EVO line in the second quarter of 2015. These films are essentially two products in one — a clear thermal film on top with an anti-condensate on the bottom.

“It looks like a single piece but has seven separate layers,” says Lumite consultant Tom Gipson. “To combine the thermal film and the anti-condensate, the film needed a middle layer that would separate the two products. We found a resin to put in the middle layer that doesn’t adhere to the thermal part. Half of the company believes the two-in-one part will be the most sought after benefit of the EVO line. Others believe it will be the lifetime condensation control guarantee. The last technology to be of any consequence to the market was when manufacturers switched from green to clear films.”

Another company that has bought into the layering concept is AT Films.

“With the upgrade to our new seven-layer extrusion line, we’ve developed the new SmartStructure technology that will enhance the performance of our current films in the Dura-Film family of products, as well as open doors for the development of new products,” Lynch says. “Just by using this new technology, we have already seen a 30 percent improvement in dart impact for our widely popular Super 4 film. This improvement was seen without making any formulation changes. By simply structuring the film differently, we made it stronger.”

Svensson Solara Screen
Climate screens help reduce energy costs.

Trend 5: Reduced Energy Costs

The new covering technology may involve more durable materials or better light distribution, but all the trends focus on manufacturers’ biggest priority: increasing energy efficiency so growers save money.

Since production and energy costs regularly top the list of growing expenses, it’s easy to see why companies highlight this benefit and want to work with growers on selecting the right product for their needs.

Ludvig Svensson, manufacturer of smart textiles for the greenhouse, went through a major change last summer in order to become a climate partner for growers.

This meant overhauling its method for classifying climate screens in order to help growers identify their ideal product. While there are hundreds of combinations and variants, the screens are divided into five families based on use.

The Solaro family, for example, offers sun protection, and Obscura offers a range of light restriction options, including total blackout.

“It’s now easier for a grower or greenhouse builder to say, ‘Okay, I need something for shade.’ Then they go deeper, ‘Okay, I want 50 percent shade,’ and then they narrow down the process,” explains president of Svensson’s American operation Mauricio Manotas. “The new website and ordering system has been well-received with new users.”

For those who aren’t exactly sure what they want, Svensson continues to put together customized plans for growers.

“The screens work in any situation. Some work outside, some inside,” Manotas says. “We have options for any market, and we encourage customers to ask a lot of questions before deciding on a screen. I’ve seen people pick the wrong one, and they don’t get the results they expect. The problem is with choice, not with the screen.”

If purchasing a new covering isn’t an option, one way to reduce energy-related costs is to conduct self-audits on a regular basis. To ensure your operation is running efficiently, check out these resources.

 

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

More From Equipment...
Philips-Lighting-rose-toplighting-recipe

April 22, 2018

New LED Toplighting System From Philips is Optimized for Roses

Available for European rose growers, the GreenPower LED system features a light spectrum designed for cut rose cultivation, leading to bigger buds and heavier stems.

Read More
Lowpad-feature

April 12, 2018

New Automatic Guided Vehicle Helps Move Product Around the Greenhouse

The Lowpad is less than 5 inches tall and is designed to navigate the greenhouse floor safely and freely.

Read More
Greenhouse-retrofit-with-Reglazing-2

April 10, 2018

How to Decide Whether to Build a New Greenhouse Structure or Retrofit an Existing One

Is it time for you to update your greenhouse structure? Follow this tips from L.L. Klink to help you decide whether it’s better to retrofit an existing structure or build a new one.

Read More
Latest Stories
Lowpad-feature

April 12, 2018

New Automatic Guided Vehicle Helps Move Product Around …

The Lowpad is less than 5 inches tall and is designed to navigate the greenhouse floor safely and freely.

Read More
Mist-Benches-at-PlantWorks-feature

January 29, 2018

How Plantworks Uses Unique Watering Approaches

The North Carolina-based nursery is trialing flood beds in its perennial houses, and is also replacing its misting systems.

Read More
Hanging-Basket-Trimmer-at-Kube-Pak-feature

January 17, 2018

Self-Designed Hanging Basket Trimmer at Kube-Pak Saves …

Kube-Pak recently designed its own trimmer to improve efficiency in hanging basket production. The early returns have been very promising.

Read More
Monitoring the plant canopy for temperature

December 9, 2017

Infrared Thermometers for Monitoring Plant and Substra…

Growers use many tools to monitor the greenhouse environment. Learn about the best practices for using an infrared thermometer to measuring plant temperature.

Read More
Hanging-Basket-Watering-System-WaterPulse-feature

December 2, 2017

15 Tools That Can Help You Maximize Water Quality and E…

New advancements in water management and irrigation are making it easier for you to manage your water use. Here’s a look at some of the latest offerings from leading suppliers, and how you can best incorporate them into your greenhouse.

Read More

September 29, 2017

Vertical Farming Looks to Go Mainstream

The University of the District of Columbia is the nation’s only urban land-grant university, so it was a particularly appropriate setting for the Association of Vertical Farming (AVF) to host the AVF Summit 2017 on September 22. The summit was a mix of education, advocacy, and policy discussion about urban agriculture — vertical farming in particular — targeted at finding ways to broaden its adoption in cities around the country and around the world. You’ve probably heard quite a bit in recent months about vertical farming — systems for growing food in stacked layers in completely controlled environments, applying inputs such as light, water, and fertilizer in precise amounts. While there’s some use of these systems in greenhouse settings, in many cases, urban farmers are repurposing abandoned buildings or even shipping containers. Match the availability of these facilities in most large urban areas with big cities’ limited access to fresh, […]

Read More
Soil Dosage Bunkers at Meyers Greenhouses feature

September 22, 2017

An Up-Close Look at Meyers Greenhouses’ Central Soil De…

Head Grower Aron Hoff was looking for a way to customize soil mixes on multiple planting lines in real time. The system he’s now using makes the process much simpler.

Read More
Dramm TracFOG Nozzle Extension

June 2, 2017

Dramm Adds New Feature to Its Fogging System, Updates O…

Dramm is now offering an optional nozzle extension for its line of TracFog PTO-driven fog systems. Meanwhile, the company has also updated its online forum to make it easier to find product solutions quickly.

Read More
Bellpark Horticulture and Visser Shipping System

May 31, 2017

New Greenhouse Conveyors Help Automation Become More Fu…

The latest conveyor and shipping systems from leading manufacturers are designed to be more versatile and customized to any operation. Here’s a look at the newest models.

Read More
Irrigation boom at Cavicchio Greenhouses

May 23, 2017

The Road to Sustainability at Cavicchio Greenhouses

Incremental changes to reduce its carbon footprint have paid off in greater efficiency and public recognition for this Massachusetts greenhouse grower.

Read More
Argus Multi-Feed RM - feature

March 26, 2017

Feeding System Allows For More Precise Delivery of Nutr…

Argus Controls’ Multi-Feed RM100 is designed to help producers custom-feed their plants based on specific nutrient recipes.

Read More
Emerald Coast Growers Seed RoomTight feature

March 22, 2017

An Inside Look at Emerald Coast Growers’ New Seed…

Florida-based liner producer Emerald Coast Growers custom retrofitted and expanded an existing greenhouse, with the goal of increasing production efficiency.

Read More
Pic-O-Mat Vision system feature

March 3, 2017

How Growers Can Make the Most of Automation

A Greenhouse Grower Top 100 Grower says investing in automation can reap several long-term benefits, as long as you do so for the right reasons.

Read More
Visser PC 16 Transplanter feature

February 13, 2017

How to Find a Greenhouse Transplanter for Every Grower&…

Equipment manufacturers have recognized a void in the market for machinery that appeals to growers of all sizes and budgets. Here are some affordable options to consider investing in to improve your operation’s efficiency.

Read More
ISO Cutting Machine

February 4, 2017

Getting to the Next Generation of Greenhouse Automation

The most successful growers in the future will be those that are willing to accept and invest in new technology.

Read More
DRAMM PulsFOG

February 1, 2017

DRAMM: 75 Years of Innovation

This manufacturer and distributor of horticultural tools and equipment has a long history of developing inventive new technology that solves problems for its customers.

Read More
Botany Lane Greenhouses

January 27, 2017

Why Botany Lane Grows Poinsettias On Capillary Mats

A move to watering mats cut water and fertilizer use, production time, and labor for this Colorado-based grower.

Read More
Ever Bloom Robot Sprayer feature

January 23, 2017

New Automation Systems Improve Spraying and Harvesting

In response to increasing regulations on labor, Ever-Bloom Inc. decided to invest in new automation technology that also dramatically improves efficiency.

Read More