With modern technology, growers have to consider every component of their greenhouse when building a new structure.And that includes factors such as heating, cooling, benching and more. Below, Nexus/RBI Systems Engineering Division's Michael Walsh and Adam Chalasinski discuss buildinging a modern greenhouse.
Greenhouse Management: What are the upsides of building environmentally controlled systems together?
Adam Chalasinski: Modern greenhouses tend to have multiple suppliers for heating, cooling, dehumidification, growing systems, benching, plumbing, etc. Partnering with a greenhouse provider that engineers and integrates this equipment helps minimize hidden costs that occur due to holes in the project scope between independent suppliers. By having the design under one roof you can eliminate the duplication of equipment and control systems — it’s common for various pieces of equipment to have an independent sensor and control. This not only saves you initial capital expenses but future maintenance costs. Having the entire greenhouse operation designed by one team, rather than in bits and pieces by multiple companies, creates ease of mind for owners and growers.
Michael Walsh: Our sales and design team will design the entire greenhouse and systems package. We will control all equipment inside the house both structurally [roof ventilation, sidewall roll curtains, etc.] and secondary [heating, shade curtains, nutrient injection, etc.]. This allows us to create a cohesive package built around the needs of the crop.
GM: What are some of the greenhouse technological developments that have become available in the past few years?
MW: Mechanical cooling in greenhouses has been one of the biggest developments over the last few years. Compared to standard natural ventilation or pad/fan cooling, more sophisticated mechanical cooling systems can control temperatures and humidity levels regardless of the outside conditions. Greenhouses using positive pressure cooling equipment can provide another option to traditional cooling methods. Integrated nutrient injectors are also a great tool. If they are built into the main control system, optimal nutrient recipes mixes can be created and sent to each irrigation zone.
GM: Why does it benefit growers to have the same company that designs and manufactures your greenhouse also design and install your environmental control system?
AC: Greenhouses operate like sophisticated machines when designed properly. Equipment such as vents, exhaust fans, walls, piping, conduit and sensors placement all have their optimum placements. To compare a modern-day greenhouse to another machine, an iPhone wouldn’t operate seamlessly if everyone sourced their own screens, batteries, and processors. Partnering with a greenhouse company that offers single-source solutions helps minimize hidden costs and optimize equipment layouts for operational efficiency.
GM: Tell us a little bit about the Systems Engineering Division.
MW: Our greenhouse projects aren’t designed with a “one- size-fits-all” philosophy. We understand the needs of the plant, the location, weather conditions, and the performance of our structures, and the needs of the grower. We can focus on specific areas such as heating/cooling, irrigation, growing systems and structural design. The Systems Engineering Division currently has five mechanical and environmental engineers on staff working hand-in-hand with our customers to balance these needs and provide optimal solutions.