Long gone are the days of consulting The Farmer’s Almanac. The amazing technology used in the agricultural construction industry creates more than beautiful produce. The field is sparking new technologies that could help you grow more products with fewer resources and revolutionize how we use space to create food.
If you are a commercial farmer growing lettuces, peppers, spinach, strawberries, and herbs, you’ve more than likely wondered if a greenhouse with a controlled environment would help you increase your revenue. Vertical farming or cutting-edge hydroponic grow house, new farming methods are being combined with tried-and-true horticulture science for some amazing results.
What’s inside a greenhouse matters as much as how it’s built. Choosing the right equipment, and designing your building for that setup, is critical for you to get the maximum output for your hard work.
We hope this brief guide will help you make an informed decision about the greenhouse you need for your operations in Pennsylvania. Let’s explore the main components of a greenhouse.
Heating and Cooling Systems
The growing season in the Pennsylvania Lowlands lasts around 6 to 7 months due to its mild climate. This makes a system that can sustain a constant temperature one of the most critical components.
While you’re probably used to the idea of preparing for a freeze, indoor systems mitigate crop disasters for you. When designing your greenhouse, it is essential to incorporate fans, vents, shade curtains, and fogging systems.
Manual watering of crops is labor intensive, which is why automated irrigation is your best option.
When designing a greenhouse, adding overhead sprinklers, misting systems, drip irrigation systems, and soaker hoses is a must. What controls those systems is becoming the really interesting part.
With technological innovations on the rise, it’s possible to have artificial intelligence (AI) software controlling irrigation systems to provide the right amount of water to your plants at the right time.
When designing a greenhouse, you should also consider the type of lamps you want to incorporate.
High-pressure sodium (HPS) and metal halide (MH) lamps, as well as LED lights, are all great options to provide enough UV to your crops during cloudy or rainy days.
Energy costs are a major obstacle for indoor farming and vertical farming especially. Designing a system to harness day light or and even solar power helps you increase sustainability and lower energy consumption.
Growing Media and Fertilization
If you decide to use a hydroponic system, it’s important to make sure the greenhouse design will accommodate it. There are a variety of systems, including:
- Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
- Deep Water Culture (DWC)
- Wick Hydroponics
- Ebb & Flow
- Drip Hydroponics
- Dutch Buckets
Along with making sure your greenhouse can support your hydroponics system, you may want to add a CO2 fertilization system as well. With options ranging from a CO2 generator to a carbon dioxide system fully integrated into your facility, the design needs to reflect your business needs.
What Structure Should You Opt For?
There are two main structure styles for greenhouses: the ridge and furrow type and freestanding greenhouse structures. While ridge and furrow buildings are the most economical, freestanding ones are more versatile when it comes to structural design.
Gutter-connected greenhouses, the more common name for ridge and furrow, offer cost-effective construction, optimize ground space usage, and entail lower heating expenses per unit of floor area. They do have disadvantages like reduced light penetration due to eave shadows and other structural elements, as well as the potential for snow accumulation along the eaves causing issues.
When designing the greenhouse for your horticulture and grow facility, you want to have ventilation, insulation, UV protection, and durability in mind. This is where GALBRAITH Pre-Design Inc. comes in.
We champion the design-build approach, where the responsibility for the success of your project is shared between designers and builders. This approach ensures that the final product meets your expectations.
Contact us today to take your year-round farming business to the next level.