So you're running a successful vertical farm using ZipGrow towers. Wonderful!
Different crops require different harvesting tools, and having the right tool will make your job easy and fast.
Let's look at the most useful tools for you to use in your greenhouse.
Pest management is an important part of operating any successful hydroponics or aquaponics farm, especially if you're doing it commercially.
Let's talk about your seedling area.
While we here at Bright Agrotech are fortunate (or unfortunate?) enough to not have to worry about extreme growing temperatures for long periods of time, this is not the case for many of our Upstart Farmers. We know farmers growing in hoop houses, warehouses, and even basements all over the country. Some of them have to deal with temperatures over 100 °F for most of the summer!
Since most crops require cooler temperatures, greenhouse cooling is a very important topic. When it comes to cooling a greenhouse, there are several techniques. We've demonstrated one with our roll-up sidewall discussion, but today we're going to dive deeper into other means of cooling a greenhouse.
Good ventilation = good air circulation.
And good air circulation means better temperature regulation and gas exchange. This is important any greenhouse, and is very easy to implement.
Most greenhouses are built with windows and fans already present. If not, then you might have to prop open a door and use your own fans. This doesn't have to be a fancy setup to work!
A heavy shade cloth or opaque structure over your fish tanks will do you two favors:
Evaporative is relatively cheap and is very effective in drier climates. Typically, this cooling method uses a cooling pad with fans. Water is pumped over the pads and evaporates into the air, cooling the surrounding area.
Fogging is a method in which water is fogged or misted from the roof of the greenhouse onto your crops. Usually misting nozzles or sprinklers must be installed. This method can be practical in certain situations, but isn't our top recommendation. Excess moisture can encourage fungi and mists are short-lived. If you already have sprinklers or nozzles installed, however, this can be a great tool in emergency situations because it lowers the temperature quickly.
Evaporation and fogging will only work in dry climates. In more humid climates, air conditioning is one of the options available to you.
Low grade geothermal heating and cooling is a way of storing and dispensing thermal energy from the earth.
In warm weather, the air is circulated through underground pipes, where water vapor condenses and the air is cooled. It is recirculated back into the greenhouse, leaving heat and moisture behind.
Chillers, which are typically used for aquariums, can be very effective in aquaponics. There are dozens of companies that sell chillers. Active Aqua sells 4 sizes of chillers, ranging from 960 to 10,370 BTU's.
If you're constructing a greenhouse in a hot or cold area, temperature regulation can cause roadblocks. Here in Wyoming, we have had to get creative about how to efficiently manage temperatures in the easiest, most cost effective way. After much trial and error, we have found that 2 layers of 6mm polyethylene film, wiggle wire, and some pumped air can make all the difference.
This time of year the wind is whipping, the temperatures are plummeting and folks are asking about double layer poly coverings- the coverings of plastic film that we have on our greenhouses here at Bright Agrotech.
In our heating a greenhouse video, we interview JD Sawyer from the Aquaponic Source. JD ran the Grow Haus hydroponic and aquaponic greenhouses in Denver, Colorado, and utilized geothermal methods to extend the heating and cooling of the greenhouses.
This video is the first of two in a series we shot to answer some of the questions folks had about what it looks like to run a commercial operation.