Tag Archives: greenhouse automation

Growing for Efficiency: Potting Technology

Potting Technology Soil Mixing Gardening Containers PotsPotting your plants is time-consuming, but manageable if you are a hobby gardener.

But as an operation increases, improving efficiency of labor and controlling costs takes on greater importance.

Depending on the size of your operation, a potting machine may be the answer.

This technology enhances productivity and helps achieve greater uniformity (which also impacts efficiency and quality) of your plants.

Manufacturers of these machines suggest them for operations that grow 100,000 planting flats per year. With that volume, the ROI comes in two to three years.

Potting machines work by holding gardening containers in place, filling it with soil and punching a hole for the plant. Workers may simply replenish the pots and refill potting mix to keep the streamlined operation moving.

Though machines can automatically fill a range of pots, it’s best for consistency to do a large run of the same size pot. This uniformity allows each container to be filled with the same amount of potting soil, compressed to the same level and for the plant to be centered. This not only allows for plants to have the same food and water requirements, but also the fact that they are centered ensures there is ample space between them on growing benches so they can equally thrive.

Machines can typically handle a range of container sizes. Some are easily adapted to accommodate these sizes, while others may need the whole set of of pot holders to be replaced to meet your operation’s needs.

Keep in mind that the potting machine should be able to manage your soil mix. For example, it should be light, moist and free of clumps so it can move through the machine with ease.

Various accessories are available to enhance productivity, such as increasing output or to accommodate different container sizes.

Maintenance typically requires no more than lubricating bearings, tightening belts or cleaning. It’s recommended to keep spare parts on hand so when needed your operation doesn’t suffer from much downtime.

Need supplies for your operation? Whether you pot your plants manually or using automation, we can help outfit you with what you need. Give us a call at 800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com.

 

How to Improve Commercial Greenhouse Operations

Optimize Commercial Greenhouse Operations Gothic Arch GreenhouseThe greenhouse industry in the United States has steadily grown—and is expected to reach $4 billion in sales by 2020. The increased demand for production is challenged by limited resources, namely labor, land and water.

With a greenhouse operation, commercial growers can manage and optimize this supply and demand dilemma with the help of automation, conservation and efficiency.

For commercial growers to improve upon and streamline their operations, they need to be especially mindful of the following:

Energy Efficiency: Help improve the energy efficiency of your commercial greenhouse simply by minimizing leaks to the structure. That means: weatherstripping doors, windows and ventilation openings; sealing the foundation—a major source of air loss; and ensuring windows and doors close and fit properly. Additionally, exhaust devices should be shut off when not in use, and automated device openings should be adjusted and lubricated.

Ventilation: Creating an ideal environment starts with proper greenhouse ventilation. Smaller greenhouses can get adequate ventilation with passive means, but larger commercial operations depend on mechanical systems to help regulate temperature and humidity. Bigger structures face a challenge in ridding excess water, which can mean higher humidity. To best address this challenge, commercial greenhouse combine dehumidifiers and fans to pull excess moisture out and replace it with cooler, drier air.

Lighting: Commercial growers should be aware that the lighting options they use meet the needs of their plants at every stage. For example, younger plants thrive under higher intensity light, which creates greater photosynthesis. Plants that don’t require full intensity light can provide an energy-saving advantage by reducing the use of artificial light and substituting inefficient incandescent lights with compact fluorescent lights.

Sustainability: Moving commercial crop production indoors is one way to reduce an operation’s environmental footprint. By giving growers more control over the conditions inside, they can maximize what Mother Nature is providing—natural light and heat, for example. Hydroponic gardening is another way to reduce soil use and water for the same sustainable effect.

Maintenance: Due to their size, commercial greenhouse operations rely more heavily on mechanical equipment, which requires routine maintenance and repair. Proper and regular upkeep of pumps, heaters, fans and ventilation systems can not only extend their life span, but also improve the efficiency of the operation.

For the best equipment for your commercial greenhouse, call us at 1-800-531-4769 or visit us at www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com today!

Greenhouse Innovations You Need to Know About

Greenhouse Innovations Gothic Arch GreenhousesFor larger operations, automation can significantly improve efficiency and reduce the cost of labor—which is the biggest production concern. Thanks to innovations, from software and sensors to robotics, water and lighting, greenhouse gardening can be more efficient and effective.

These technological advances in gardening tend to have their roots in Europe before they make their way to North America. Based on what was featured in one of the latest greenhouse technology showcases this year, this is what U.S. growers have to look forward to.

Pointed Microclimate Sensor: Wireless sensor that captures dew point, vapor pressure deficit, temperature and humidity to help monitor heating needs. This tool helps growers cut unnecessary energy costs and reduces the risk of plant disease.

Service Engine (Royal Brinkman): Software that helps managers identify everything in the greenhouse that requires service or maintenance and keeps those tasks on schedule. Streamlines management of greenhouse upkeep and provides up-to-date and easily accessible maintenance records.

Moisture Balance Module (Priva): Automated module that constantly monitors water evaporation and plant water usage, then schedules irrigation and duration that automatically adjusts based on the environment and plant needs. Encourages not minimal, but optimal amounts of water usage.

SmartPAR Wireless Control System (Lumigrow): Wireless platform that can be used to automate lighting zones and adjust LED lighting remotely. Adjustments can be tailored to crop types and growth stages. Lighting modes can be changed between grow and view modes.

IRIS! Scout Robot (Metazet FormFlex): Robotic system detects crop stress, so pest, diseases or other deficiencies can be treated early on. This robot is is also equipped to measure humidity, temperature and carbon dioxide levels to assist growers in managing an ideal environment in their greenhouse.

Wondering how to innovate your greenhouse? Let us help! Call our friendly staff at 1-800-531-4769 or visit www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com to learn more.