Greenhouse Grower TECHNOLOGY’s 2018 Technology of the Year Award Finalists
Greenhouse Grower’s Medal of Excellence Awards at Cultivate’18 in Columbus, OH, this July will feature the first-ever Greenhouse Grower TECHNOLOGY Technology of the Year Award.
As part of Greenhouse Grower’s Medal of Excellence program, the award recognizes new technology that has the potential to have a lasting impact on greenhouse production. Products under consideration can be from any of the following categories: greenhouse structures/coverings; lighting systems and components; automation/transplanting; irrigation; environmental controls; software; heating/cooling; soil mixers/pot fillers; and conveyors/benches.
Here are the five finalists for the award (photos in the slideshow above), as determined by a panel representing leaders in the greenhouse industry. The overall winner will be announced at Cultivate’18, and will be featured in more detail in an upcoming issue of Greenhouse Grower TECHNOLOGY.
AutoStix (Bellpark Horticulture/Visser NA)
AutoStix is a new system that automates the labor-intensive process of sticking cuttings. The AutoStix machine is capable of processing 10,000 cuttings per hour. AutoStix uses an open source strip system to enhance quality and efficiency for cutting transplanting. AutoStix strips are biodegradable. The strip can hold cuttings with different stem diameters, yet still positions the stems firmly without damaging the soft tissue. The cuttings can be shipped at a high density directly to the nursery that will grow them, while still providing an air space for each individual stem.
• Strip is available in two types: one strip can hold 51 cuttings, and the other can hold 34 cuttings.
• Works best on 102 counts (either 51×2=102 or 34×3=102)
• 10,000 cuttings per hour
• Open source strip system to enhance quality and efficiency
GreenPower LED Toplighting (Philips Lighting)
An energy-efficient alternative for supplemental light needs, Philips LED Toplighting delivers the photons crops need for faster rooting, compact growth, and healthier looking plants. Low wattage and high light output provides a significant boost in lighting power without requiring an expensive overhaul of electrical wiring in the greenhouse. LED toplighting lasts up to three times longer than high-pressure sodium lights.
GreenPower LED Toplighting offers light output levels that typically range between 410 to 520 µmol/s per module at a very high efficacy of up to 2.7 µmol/J. That makes it a highly efficient replacement and energy-efficient supplement for traditional lighting systems.
• Excellent light uniformity to ensure uniform growth
• Shorten growth cycles
• Improve color, shape, and taste
• Low maintenance costs
• 40% energy reduction compared to HPS
• Custom light recipe to fit crop and situation
• Easy to mount and connect
ISO Cutting Planter
With the ISO Cutting Planter 2500, one person can operate seven machines, which significantly increases work performance. In the process, the ISO Cutting Planter plants every cutting at the same depth, giving the planting perfect uniformity as a result. The operator places the cuttings on the conveyor without order. The conveyor shakes the cuttings to make it possible to spot individual sprigs. Then the robot picks up the cuttings one by one and places them in a cutting bridge. The cutting bridge subsequently plants the cuttings into the medium.
Advantages of the ISO Cutting Planter 2500 include:
• Constant high quality of planted cutting
• Uniformity in planting depth
• Improved working conditions
• Easy to operate
• Scalable for higher capacities
LUNA, an artificial intelligence-based system, begins to capture growing data from the moment the system is switched on in the greenhouse. The system uses 3D imagery and environmental sensors to monitor plant growing conditions in real time. Growers can view each individual plant, and each bay of plants, from anywhere through software accessible on hand-held devices. They set the environmental and growing parameters, and are able to set up alarms if those conditions change. With access to recorded data, growers can also go back in time to view and compare plant growth and conditions from previous days, weeks, months, and even years, side by side with current crop conditions.
With these features, Luna gives growers the data they need for proactive management based on precise knowledge, and ideally will help growers maximize product yields and quality, reduce operational costs and waste, and confidently predict ready dates.
PackPlanter Series (TTA)
TTA has been instrumental in the design and manufacturing of the new generation of transplanters. Supported by more than 300 medium to large growers, the transplanter market for smaller growers had not been well represented. In response to this need, TTA recently designed a transplanter for smaller growers with a lower price point.
The PackPlanter S is designed with a Pick & Place Unit Spread of 58 inches. The PackPlanter S uses all the component and control advantages of TTA’s other transplanters, just in a smaller frame. It is limited to 16 grippers for a 512 Tray, 12 grippers for a 288 Tray, and 6, 7, or 12 for a 72 and 84.
• 16/512 = 16,000 Plugs Per Hour
• 12/288 = 12,000 Plugs Per Hour
• 6/12/72 = 6,000 or 12,000 Plugs Per Hour
The full PackPlanter series includes models aimed at growers of all sizes:
• PackPlanter 1450S: for small growers (2 to 5 acres)
• PackPlanter 2230: for medium-sized growers (5 to 15 acres)
• PackPlanter Wireless: for large growers (12 acres and above).