Greenhouse panels. (Credit: Neiker-Tecnalia)
From ScienceDaily: University researchers are working on a greenhouse-solar-panel system that allows electricity to be generated without the crops being affected by over-shading.
Depending on the season, solar radiation can be diverted by taking advantage of the annual oscillation in the height of the sun's trajectory; this is achieved through a lens-based optical system. Without the need for any solar mechanical monitoring, the technology allows the needs imposed by any crop to be met.
In layman’s terms: during the winter (October-February), the light inside the greenhouse barely falls. But in summer the optical system diverts solar radiation towards the photovoltaic cells that make up the module, thus achieving a dual aim: to provide the greenhouse with cooling during the critical period of high temperatures and to increase electricity production through the photovoltaic system.
Read the full story here.
Is your site mobile friendly?
More and more, your customers are going to be using their mobile phones to access your website, so how friendly is your website to a smartphone? Francoise Brougher is vice president, global SMB sales and operations for Google, and she recently wrote on American Express’ Open Forum website that it’s estimated that by 2013, more people will connect to the Internet through mobile devices than through their computers. With people trending toward smartphones, she also said that more than half of consumers say they’re likely to purchase from a good, mobile-friendly site than one that is difficult to use and navigate. So how mobile-friendly is your site?
Here are some tips she wrote on that site:
- Don’t just shrink it: A mobile-friendly site is made specifically for a small screen and isn’t just a shrunken-down version of your normal site.
- Keep it simple: A good mobile site should be easy to navigate, read and prioritize key information.
- Make it easy for customers to connect: A mobile-friendly site should take advantage of the natural capabilities of mobile phones with features such as click-to-call, maps and location information.
Want to know more?
To read more about Brougher’s thoughts on the topic, visit www.openforum.com/articles/go-mobile-how-to-make-your-website-mobile-friendly.
Want to get connected with other industry professionals across North America? Join our online community by liking “Greenhouse Management magazine” on Facebook. (www.facebook.com/pages/Greenhouse-Manage
There you can connect with us and interact with readers all across the continent by posting comments and ideas, asking questions and getting answers you may be searching for as well.
Do you plan on making updates to your greenhouses within the next year?
Yes- 66.7 % No- 26.7 % Maybe- 6.6 %
janemilliman jane milliman
Haven’t played with yet but looks promising. Greenhouse Management’s iPhone & iPad apps @Greenhousemag bit.ly/rBvp1k #ettgpro
CostaFarms Costa Farms
#Houseplants are a great antidote to winter ow.ly/8e2bs Low-maintenance plants make the cold a lil’ more bearable #gardening
BrockRdNursery Brock Road Nursery
Each year the Perennial Plant Association selects a ‘Perennial Plant of the Year’ based on 5 criteria. 2012 choice: bit.ly/uscqGt
ElzingaHoeksema Elzinga & Hoeksema
bioworks_garden BioWorks, Inc.
Happy New Year to all of our friends! We wish you a happy and healthy 2012!!
BatesNursery Bates Nursery
A Superhero Scrubs the Air: The Mighty Houseplant: tinyurl.com/4mb3owc
hartsgreenhouse harts greenhouse
Our Norwich location has reopened! January hours are 10-4 Monday to Saturday.
Wishing all of our followers a happy and healthy new year!
GoersGreenhouse VernGoers Greenhouse
It may be winter, but we’re still open! Our winter hours begin today: Monday-Saturday 8:00-5:00pm & closed on Sundays.
CostaFarms Costa Farms
#MondayMorningTip - Use kitty litter or sand to melt ice on your walkways instead of salt because it can burn the roots of plants and shrubs
[PSK] We wish you a happy new year! We hope your new year is filled with success, health and joy. Have a terrific 2012!
AmericanPlant Rodd Moesel
Hope you enjoyed your first day of 2012! We are looking forward to a great year and hope it exceeds all your expectations! & is drought free
hortcouture Jim Monroe
The top ten, most gorgeous new varieties for this spring... fb.me/DxKSAFBH
Maximize space with movable tray systems
Gutter-connected greenhouses have the advantages of lower energy costs, better space utilization and more uniform environment. They put all the growing under one roof allowing better materials handling and easier shipping.
To get maximum use of space, movable tray systems are often installed. The basic concept is to install trays over the whole greenhouse area except for one movable aisle that is used for tending the plants. The trays are supported on pipe rollers and allowed to move sideways 18 to 24 inches, the width needed for a work aisle. When you need to get to a particular growing tray, the line of trays is pushed aside, leaving the work aisle.
Because the trays move, automatic watering, bottom heat and electrical systems have to be supported from the floor or the bench supports. Tray lines as long as 200 feet can be moved by turning the support rollers with a crank at the end.
Moving plants in and out of conventional bench systems is labor intensive. Walking with one flat or a couple of pots at a time adds considerable cost to the plants. Walking 25 feet, picking up a flat and walking back to a cart takes about 23 seconds. At $10/hour this adds more than 4 cents to the cost of that flat. This cost is added every time the flat is moved.
Two types of tray transport systems are common. The roller conveyor system uses flat bottom trays that ride on trolley wheels or fixed casters attached to support rails. The trays are guided by the design of the support wheels attached to the rails.
In the second system, the rollers are attached to each tray and ride on the smooth pipe rails. One set of rollers provides the guidance and the other is just for support.
Transport cart — To get the trays from the headhouse to the greenhouse, a transport cart can be used. This low-cost cart travels in an aisle along the end of the tray lines. A tray to be moved is rolled onto the cart and locked in place. The cart usually has four support casters and a guide wheel. This wheel follows a rail mounted to the floor to guide the cart as it is pushed. The cart needs to be designed to fit the size of trays. It can be designed to carry one or two trays at a time. Cost of the transport cart is $2,000 to $3,000.
Transport conveyor – This system uses rails with attached plastic trolley wheels to move the trays. The system is designed to support flat bottom trays. An alternate system uses rails that support trays with wheels mounted to the underside. The transition from one direction to another requires two sets of wheels. Manual or pneumatic lifters transfer the tray from the growing area to the conveyor. Movement to or from the growing area is usually done manually. Several trays can be pushed at a time by one person.
A computer-controlled, motorized system is available but not common in the U.S. In this system, multiple trays are loaded onto a transfer cart. A growing location is designated by the operator and the cart is automatically moved to that location. Trays are off-loaded automatically. The computer keeps a record of the location so that it can find them when they are ready to be shipped. A system such as this can handle up to 150,000 locations in the greenhouse.
Considerable labor is required to handle plants from the time the containers are filled until the time the plants are shipped to the garden center. Although a tray system costs $10 to $20 per square foot, the payback is fairly short due to the significant savings in labor.
Have a question? You can write John at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Bridget K. Behe
We got 10 inches of snow on November 30. The power was out for 14 hours and the sump pump was full in the basement. I needed power fast and bought a generator. I wanted to know how to get it started - fast. We fired it up without a glance at the directions.
I’m guilty, and you probably are, too. We simply don’t read the directions. The label is there for our benefit, but we’re in too much of a hurry. A 2003 survey conducted by the Soap and Detergent Association showed that 49 percent of Americans never read the directions on a laundry soap package. That leads to overuse of the soap, much to the benefit of the detergent makers and the possible detriment of the environment. Our customers are probably guilty, too. So, what’s on the label? How can we make it more helpful, less cumbersome and enable the purchasers of our products to be more successful?
Embrace smart tags
Maybe signs can help? The one sign that has great potential is the smart tag. When used well, smart tags or QR codes can point customers to additional information that cannot or will not fit on the label. When used with a smart tag reader, the code is a two-dimensional address for a website. When used incorrectly, that website is the homepage of the business. The QR code should take the customer to a page created just for that particular product.
Dubious about who might be using those smart tags? A May 2011 online survey of 1,682 U.S. residents (not only plant purchasers) conducted by universities (Michigan State, Purdue, University of Minnesota and Texas A&M) and The Vineland Research Station in Ontario, Canada, showed that nearly 60 percent of Gen X and millenials surveyed owned a smartphone, but so did 38 percent of Gen Y and 17 percent of the baby boomers. The study showed them a smart tag and asked whether they’d seen that symbol before. Not surprising, a higher percentage of the younger study participants had seen a QR code. In fact, 79 percent of the millenials and 75 percent of Gen Yers had seen a QR code, compared to 61 percent of Gen Xers and 42 percent of the baby boomers. Still, nearly half to three-fourths of all consumers had seen one of these labels by May of 2011.
What was really surprising was the percentage of participants who had purchased something gardening or plant-related from their smartphone - approximately 20 percent of the millenials and 17 percent of Gen Xers, compared to 14 percent of the boomers. Some 48 percent of the study participants had accessed gardening or plant-related information from their phone, compared to around 85 percent who accessed any type of information online from their smartphone. And there was no difference by age group as to who accessed gardening or plant-related information or any other type of information from their smartphone.
We know these percentages are likely to increase for spring 2012. Still, we need to direct consumers to specific and pertinent information about a particular plant or gardening product, not just to a general website about the business that makes or sells it.
Lots of specific information might be depicted on a webpage connecting consumer to product. And this is where a savvy supplier should develop a competitive advantage by providing product-specific particulars on the page created for the QR code. Information about the plant or product is a given, but to that could be added images, recipes, customer reviews, recommendations of products to go with that particular item, as well as more information about the producer and that business enterprise.
Print plant origination on tags
Many states have promotional campaigns to stimulate the purchase of local products, realizing the importance local purchases have on the economy. The Michigan Christmas Tree Growers Association, Michigan Floriculture Growers Council and Michigan Floral Association teamed together to obtain a 2011 Specialty Crop Block Grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture to “Make it a Real Michigan Christmas” and stimulate the purchase of Michigan-grown poinsettias and Christmas trees. The desire to support our community is becoming an increasingly greater part of the purchase decision. The local aspect of plant production and/or sales should be a part of the plant label. It speaks directly to the authenticity of the producer, seller and product. Consumers want to see who grew their food and the farm on which it was grown. Why not convey some of that information to interested consumers for the plants they buy this spring?
Help customers succeed
Similarly, I still haven’t read the directions for my generator, but I kept them for the next time we might need it in a hurry. But we got the generator running and the sump pumping. The basement didn’t flood, and the power came back on 15 minutes after the pump did its job.
Lewisia ’Little Mango’
’Little Mango’ is an exciting color breakthrough in Jelitto’s successful Lewisia series that includes the popular ’Little Plum’ and ’Little Peach.’ ’Little Mango’ has an abundance of spring blooms – the color of fleshy mango fruit – on short sturdy stems to 6 inches with tight rosettes of leathery, lance-shaped leaves. These hybrids re-bloom in the fall (unusual for Lewisias), have proved more adaptable to cold, wet winters and are excellent candidates for container production. Jelitto’s Lewisia longipetala hybrids flower the first year from seed, and do not suffer from rust and leaf crown rot like other Lewisias. These beauties are first year flowering and available once again this year in easy-to-germinate Jelitto Gold Nugget Seed.
For more: Jelitto Perennial Seeds, (502) 895-0807 or www.jelitto.com
Infinity Electric Lavender Improved New Guinea impatiens
The consistency of the Infinity line from Proven Winners makes growing this series a breeze, and Infinity Lavender Improved is no exception. Now with richer lavender flowers and a clear white eye, this improved variety continues to be versatile in landscape and container applications. Larger flower size also helps Infinity Lavender Improved to have a great show of color throughout the summer.
For More: Four Star Greenhouse, (734) 654-6420 or www.PWfourstar.com
Heuchera ‘Fire Alarm’
This new heuchera is an improved version of ‘Autumn Leaves.’ With super-vigorous, thick and leathery leaves, this low-spreading variety is expected to be a hit among growers seeking unique plant characteristics.
Most notably, ‘Fire Alarm’ has the reddest foliage of any heuchera to date, and it changes colors throughout the seasons. This beauty is ideal for accents, containers and mixed beds. ‘Fire Alarm’ complements almost every section of the color palette, and of course, it can stand on its own in the garden. The average size is 14 inches wide and 9 inches high with a 13-inch flower height, and it performs well in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-9. ‘Fire Alarm’ requires sun to shade for optimal growth.
For more: Terra Nova Nurseries, www.terranovanurseries.com