Dave Bishop has been in the greenhouse industry for 32 years with “no plans of stopping.” As the current regional sales manager at Atlas Greenhouse and board member of the National Greenhouse Manufacturing Association, his years of experience has given him extensive knowledge of the dos and don’ts of greenhouse structures, especially when it’s time to upgrade.
“Like all things, especially with structures, if you don’t maintain something and do upgrades, it’s going to start deteriorating and effect your process,” he says.
One aspect greenhouse deterioration can affect is lighting. According to Bishop, a certain percentage of light is lost each year, which affects the amount of lighting that is going inside the greenhouse. If a greenhouse needs to be updated, the lack of light will “greatly” affect the crops.
The second reason for maintaining a greenhouse, according to Bishop, is for climate control, which produces a better plant.
“Those are the two main things to manage in the greenhouse,” he says. “Beyond that, it’s just simple maintenance and upgrades to keep your greenhouse functioning properly. Just like you would your own house, there are certain things that need to happen on a yearly basis to keep it going correctly.”
Bishop says the first step to upgrading is checking the market to see what new coverings have been developed, whether it is polyfilm or polycarbonate. But coverings should be crop-specific.
The second step, he says, is looking at ways to improve evaporative cooling by creating an experience and better airflow.
“A lot of the times, the customer simply doesn’t know, and they’ve trusted a greenhouse salesperson to tell them what they need,” he says. “But if they’re not getting the adequate air flow, that’s one of the huge keys in a greenhouse, so they should seek more opinions because light and airflow are the most important thing.”
While upgrading is mandatory for all growers, Bishop says structures are not one-size-fits-all. They are tailored for growers based off budget, what is being grown and how often they are being used.
In recent years, Atlas has dedicated its time to research and development. More specifically, it has updated the cannabis and hemp line since that has become more common. This line includes hybrid greenhouses that can either use normal evaporative cooling during certain parts of the year, and chilled water systems or HVAC during summer months.
Atlas has also incorporated “positive pressure,” which means putting air right underneath the plant level. Per Bishop’s insight, this pressure decreases humidity in a house which is important since humidity is the biggest battle, especially with cannabis plants.
While Atlas has a range of structures, Bishop says there is no one common greenhouse.
“Since Atlas has been around since the mid-1980s, we have a very strong following and a very loyal customer base that are still doing a lot of older structures. They’re using the same structures because they’re tried and true and have been so for years. But with our new customers, we are definitely selling the newer structures.”
Even though Bishop says other companies make similar structures, it is his belief that they cannot match Atlas’ experience and customer service. Because of this, he recommends growers interested in a new structure work with the company.
“Atlas has a good reputation at doing business,” Bishop says. “They do business the right way. They stand behind their products and take care of their customers. Anyone can give you a structure, but it really boils down to who you’re working with, and the company that’s standing behind it. Atlas is a good choice.”