Greenhouses and environmental control

The idea of growing plants in environmentally controlled areas has existed since Roman times. The emperor Tiberius ate a cucumber-like vegetable daily. The Roman gardeners used artificial methods (similar to the greenhouse system) of growing to have the vegetable available on his table every day of the year.

The next step from the conventional greenhouse as we know it today will be the introduction of “vertical farms”. Currently, sophisticated so called “plantscrapers“ are being planned or are already under construction in Sweden, Japan, China, Singapore and the United States.

Skyscraper

Skyscraper farming might yet be a possible answer to the question of how to feed the nine billion people that are expected by the middle of the century. These types of green-houses have a tightly con-trolled level of temperature, humidity & CO2, sophisticated watering systems and in addition to sunlight, advanced artificial LED lighting that is specifically designed and installed for each plant family. This way, the crops grow much faster and very efficiently all year round. It is estimated, that the Swedish plantscraper that is planned to be 54m high, will produce thousands of tonnes of food a year, enough to feed up to 30,000 people.

Facts & figures:

  • Tomato is the second most important commercial vegetable crop after potato. Current world production is about 100 million tonnes produced on 3.7 million hectares.
  • In the year 2000, per capita consumption of fresh tomatoes in the U.S. was 17.8 lb,/ 8.73 kg.
  • About 85 percent of the world’s soybeans are processed, or “crushed,” annually into soybean meal and oil. Around 98 percent of the soybean meal that is crushed is further processed into animal feed.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that world production of carrots and turnips (these plants are combined by the FAO for reporting purposes) for calendar year 2011 was almost 35,658 million tonnes.

Why do we need to measure humidity?

Greenhouse humidity levels are important both in prevent-ing plant diseases and promot-ing healthy and strong plant growth. High humidity can promote Botrytis and other fungal diseases. High humidity also restricts plant transpira-tion, which in turn limits evapo-rative leaf cooling and can lead to overheating of plant foliage. If high humidity persists for a long time, the restriction of transpiration can limit the “transpiration stream” of nutrients and can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

Low humidity levels are best avoided because these may increase foliar transpiration to the extent that the root system cannot keep up. Humidity is perhaps the most difficult of the greenhouse conditions to control. Most growers simply aim to avoid the extremes of humidity. Over most temperature ranges, a greenhouse humidity of 50 – 85 %rh is generally safe. Low humidity can be managed with the use of misters and foggers. It is also useful to shade plants under conditions of low humidity to reduce the rate of transpiration.

Transpiring plants add water vapour to the greenhouse air, increasing the humidity inside the greenhouse. Therefore, managing high humidity starts with ventilation control. Replacing warmer, humid greenhouse air with cooler, drier external air. Ventilation also involves significant energy losses, and therefore ventilation must often be accompanied by heating. Therefore, lowering greenhouse humidity with a combination of ventilation and heating increases energy costs significantly.

Candice 
Area Sales Manager

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s