Category Archives: Resesarch

Agra Tech and UC Davis Create Tall Greenhouse Research

Solar Light 50 research greenhouse

Solar Light 50 research greenhouse

With a 16-foot eave height greenhouse manufactured by Agra Tech, UC Davis is able to perform research and development on various types of crops. As a part of the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis in Davis, CA, the College of Agriculture and Environmental Services (CA&ES) maintains a total of 162 greenhouses, and one of their newest one is a custom-made 4,500 square-foot greenhouse made by Agra Tech.

Garry Pearson, CA&ES Lead Greenhouse Manager described the project and its main goal. “We call it the ‘Tall greenhouse’ project among ourselves, because basically it is a greenhouse where a wide variety of crops that can be grown.

Creating and controlling the ideal climate for the “Tall Greenhouse” was a tall order, Pearson said, but by working with Agra Tech, it was achieved. “Our goal was to create a greenhouse environment that has the same exact climate and conditions you’d find in the tropical zones of the world. We’re in a Mediterranean climate here in northern California, so we obviously need a greenhouse to control the marriage between the greenhouse, the climate and the plants.

“By working with Adam and Ray Pound at Agra Tech and Ag-Con Construction respectively, we now have a greenhouse that allows UC Davis to grow crops that are 24 feet tall in a microclimate that features high humidity, which is essential for the crops being studied. The Pounds at Agra Tech were able to meet our requirements in a very cost-effective way and they were involved in every aspect of the design and manufacturing of our ‘Tall Greenhouse.’ It’s a 4,500 square foot greenhouse and it’s working perfectly. It’s easy to work with Agra Tech, because they have a lot of experience and knowledge and they’re not afraid to take on new challenges as well.”

Written by Ed Attanasio

Inside Lean-to

Inside screened Lean-to

Solar Light 50 with insect exclusion

Solar Light 50 with insect exclusion lean-to

 

Major Worldwide Seed Manufacturer Values Its Agra Tech Greenhouses

Solar Light Processing Area

Solar Light Processing Area

In 2008, two of the world’s leading seed companies merged when Harris Moran Seed Company (a U.S. entity) and Clause Vegetable Seeds, (a French company) joined forces to become a major player in the development and production of vegetable seeds worldwide. Now called HM.CLAUSE, this international company specializes in the breeding, production and commercialization of vegetable seeds in a wide range of varieties for professional growers.

Dedicated exclusively to producing vegetable seeds, HM.CLAUSE is now one of the top five vegetable seed entities in the world. With more than 2,000 varieties within more than 20 vegetable crops, HM.CLAUSE provides cutting-edge solutions to growers from India to Indiana. By establishing business relationships with 14 commercial subsidiaries and local sales networks, HM.CLAUSE features varieties that are available in more than 100 countries.

Solar Light processing area

Solar Light processing area

The company has a strong presence in California, with facilities in Modesto, where its quality control department and seed processing operation is located; three locations in Davis, including a Research and Breeding facility and satellite facilities in Nampa, Idaho; Sun Prairie, Wisconsin; Olathe, Colorado; and Immokalee, Florida. HM.CLAUSE also has subsidiaries in France, Mexico, Spain, Guatemala, Italy, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Australia and more, making them a world-class worldwide operation.

Focusing on tomato, melon, pepper, cauliflower and other brassicas, summer squash, sweet corn and fennel seeds, HM.CLAUSE currently utilizes one head House and three greenhouses built and designed by Agra Tech, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of commercial greenhouses, accessories and greenhouse growing systems and located in Pittsburg, CA.

Each of HM.CLAUSE’s three Agra Tech greenhouses is approximately 3,450 square ft. in size and contains 2,160 square ft. of usable bench space.

Mehul Gandhi is the company’s Greenhouse Facility Supervisor and oversees all greenhouse-related tasks at HM.CLAUSE’s Modesto location. He has held this position since the greenhouse became operational and oversees the efforts of two technicians and contract personnel, when needed. Previously, Gandhi held the position of Germination Lab Supervisor at H.M.CLAUSE and has been with the company for approximately seven years.

There were a few minor bumps when the Agra Tech greenhouses were installed roughly three years ago at HM.CLAUSE’s Modesto facility, but any issues were solved post haste, thanks by exemplary customer service offered by Agra Tech.

“We had some minor issues with the Agra Tech greenhouses initially, but our salesman Ray Pound with AG Con, the company that installs Agra Tech greenhouses, stepped up and solved them rather quickly,” Gandhi said. “When he discovered a problem, he was here within days and took care of everything. We also work with Agra Tech’s Jim Bergantz, who has been a source of information and a great help.”

Agra Tech Benches inside Solar Light commercial Greenhouse

Agra Tech Benches inside Solar Light Greenhouse

“The greenhouses have performed well,” Gandhi explained. “There are three rolling benches in each greenhouse with hot water tubing heating system on the benches. We also have various stages of cooling with the final stage being the automatic shade curtain. This allows us to produce very uniform plants throughout the year.”

 

Agra Tech helped Gandhi and his crew to find the optimum location for their head house and greenhouses, he said. “We had to figure out how much space we needed and where the Agra Tech greenhouses and head house were to be situated, because we don’t have a huge parcel of land here. But, with Agra Tech’s assistance, we were able to successfully design and set up the buildings and in the summer of 2011, our new quality control lab was operational.”

“All four buildings are connected, which is ideal for what we’re doing,” Gandhi explained. “They allowed us to expand our usable transplant testing. We’ve also been able to expand our vigor and stress testing to ensure that the seed lots chosen for sales can withstand a wide range of conditions.”

Controlled Environmental Chamber for germination

Controlled Environmental Chamber for germination

“The head house is where we do all the planting,” Gandhi said. “It has three separate environmentally controlled chambers and we place all of our usable transplants there first, to make sure there’s uniformity and to make sure they are initially grown under the same conditions before we transfer them into one of the greenhouses. Initial germination also takes place in these controlled environment chambers.”

To prevent insects from entering HM.CLAUSE’s head house or greenhouses, Gandhi called upon the expertise of Agra Tech to make it happen. “They helped us to cover all our breezeways with insect screens,” Gandhi said. “Now, not one single insect can get into any of our greenhouses, which is essential. We’re busy year-round, so this is very important.”

Article by Ed Attanasio

CSP Labs Tests the Seeds of the World

Founded by Dr. Parm Randhawa in 1992, California Seed & Plant Labs (CSP Labs) performs seed health testing primarily for the vegetable seed industry. Fifteen years ago, CSP Labs expanded its list of capabilities to incorporate a wider range of services, including seed germination, seed purity, disease diagnosis, resistance screening, hybrid purity, variety fingerprinting and Non-GMO testing.

CSP Lab Building

CSP’s New Lab Building

Accredited by National Seed Health System (NSHS) and California Crop Improvement Association (CCIA) for certain seed health tests, the lab is also approved by California Department of Food Agriculture (CDFA) to receive samples of quarantine nature. Last year, this burgeoning company moved to a new, larger location and built a 10,000 square-foot lab in Pleasant Grove, CA. Today, they test more than 15 types of seeds, including peppers, melons, lettuce, squash and even tobacco.

DSCN3296

Inside their Agra Tech Solar Light 36 greenhouse

CSP Labs employs 24 full-time people and 10 part-time people and is well-known for highly accurate testing using the world’s latest techniques and cutting-edge systems. CSP Labs operates and maintains four separate labs: Seed health; plant health; seed germination and genetics. Third-world countries greatly value CSP Lab’s vast knowledge, expertise and accuracy, because without proper, healthy seeds they obviously can’t grow food for their inhabitants.

Sandeep Randhawa is a Seed Help Lab Manager at CSP Labs. He works in every capacity within the lab, but focuses on testing seeds for diseases and getting them certified for use by farmers throughout the world. Last year, CSP Labs purchased four 36’ by 96’ greenhouses from Agra Tech, Inc., one of the world’s leading manufacturers of commercial greenhouses and a leading expert on greenhouse growing techniques and systems. CSP Labs acquired the Agra Tech greenhouses to provide support for its seed testing efforts and be able to demonstrate the work they’ve performed on a wide range of seeds, to make certain diseases are controlled and won’t spread when planted by farmers.

“We’re identifying plants for diseases and viruses, which are often caused by fungi and/or bacteria,” Randhawa said. “Any time we find a disease in a seed, we have to inform our customer. The customer will then usually ask us—did this disease come from my seed? If the answer is yes, then we need to determine the next move. Can we find a way to prevent it in the future and save their crops? Once we’ve located the particular pathogen; we can make educated decisions and then devise a plan.”

Randhawa loves his role in testing seeds and working closely with growers from a wide range of countries, including most of all the Asian countries, as well as Australia, New Zealand, South America and many parts of Europe.  “This is a cool job and I love coming to work every day,” Randhawa said. “We’re so busy that on many days I look up and think to myself—where did the time go? There are new challenges coming up all the time and we’re on the cutting-edge of this industry, so it’s all new territory in many cases. To stay current, we need to constantly read research articles and keep our eyes open for new trends, new diseases and ways to prevent them from spreading, so it’s very important work. There are not very many other companies doing what we’re doing. We’re a one-stop solution for our customers, because we provide every aspect of seed testing and genetics.”

By tapping into the experts at  Agra Tech, CSP Labs was able to make smart decisions while deciding the ideal greenhouses needed for their purposes, he explained. “We started working with Bob Scavetta until he retired from Agra Tech (after working there for 16 years). Then, we began a relationship with Jim Bergantz. We missed Bob, because he was so knowledgeable, but both gentlemen know the commercial greenhouse industry very well and the information they gave us was exceptional. Jim walked us through the options and helped us to make a series of smart decisions. Jim Bergantz is definitely passionate about what he’s doing and you can sense it immediately. If we ever need a part, Jim knows the solution and will go out of his way to make it happen. They’ve recommended other products and systems for our greenhouses, even though they don’t sell them directly. So, that’s how we know they care, because they’re not all about selling us things. They really want us to succeed, and that’s why we’re happy to be working with them. The customer service at Agra Tech is amazing! “

For more information about CSP Labs, visit their web site at: www.csplabs.com.

DSCN3305

Outside the Agra Tech Solar Light greenhouse. Note the insect exclusion screens over exhaust fans

Article by Ed Attanasio