Tag Archives: Energy Curtains

The Finest Orchids in the World are Grown in Agra Tech Greenhouses

 

Richard Munoz, Operations Manager for McLellan/Tiasuco America

Richard Munoz, Operations Manager for McLellan/Tiasuco America

By using commercial greenhouses made by Agra Tech, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of greenhouses, McLellan/Tiasuco America grows incredible orchids completely indoor. In 2000, Rod McLellan’s botanical division was purchased by the Taiwan Sugar Company (Taisuco) one of the largest orchid growers on the planet. The purchase gave Taisuco a more prominent position in North America when it bought this long-standing family farm with two large growing operations in California and Texas.

McLellan/Orchid in Agra Tech greenhouseTiasuco America’s main nursery is located in Aromas, CA, in the agriculturally rich Pajaro Valley. Most of its orchids are sold to flower stores and farmer’s markets and also operates a retail store operating in the San Francisco Flower Mart.

By exchanging research, development and resources with its counterparts, McLellan/Tiasuco America has earned a worldwide reputation for growing high-quality orchid species and innovative varieties that are grown, selected, packaged and shipped to its customers around the country. While growing unique, award-winning orchids in its greenhouses for year-round delivery, the company also grows Taisuco’s spiral eucalyptus varieties in its surrounding fields, which are harvested and shipped throughout the world year-round.orchid-slideshow-2

Richard Munoz is the company’s operations manager, which means he supervises a staff of more than 100 people and manages the nursery in Aromas, CA. Munoz, 57, enjoys his job, because the technology is rapidly changing and each day provides new challenges, he said. “The driving force in this industry is the technology and it has changed considerably within the last 10 years. We’ve been adapting to the new innovations as they emerge, because we want to use all of the newest tools and systems out there, if possible, to grow the finest and healthiest orchids in the world.”

McLellan/Tiasuco America cultivates hardy varieties that can stand up to the challenges of retail distribution and a broad range of home environments. “The seedlings are shipped here from Tiasuco in Taiwan, so they’re going to be on a ship for 18-20 days,” Munoz said. “When we get them, some of them are distressed, so we have techniques we’ve developed to get them healthy again.”

oncidiumThe orchid varieties offered by the company range from the most popular: Phalaenopsis, Oncidium and Miltonia to the exotic: Paphiopedilum, Cattleyas and other seasonal varieties. “We get new varieties from Taiwan every year, maybe 3-4 annually,” Munoz explained. “We have the classic whites and various shades of pinks, yellows and oranges and striped or spotted patterns in all colors, probably more than a dozen in all.”

Between the two farms, McLellan/Tiasuco America grows 1.3 million orchids annually with year round availability. The standard pot sizes include 3”, 4” and 6” with a variety of flower sizes from mini to large and customers can buy them either fully bloomed or in the bud stage, based on their preferences and/or requirements.phalaenopsis

Munoz has been working closely with Adam Pound, his sales rep at Agra Tech, Inc. for several years now and greatly values the relationship for several reasons, he said. “Agra Tech has been building greenhouses with a long time and Adam is a great source of knowledge for us. He is always looking for new great solutions for us to grow better orchids and each one has worked well. In Aromas, we have a total of 230,000 square feet of greenhouses that we purchased from Agra Tech and they always work tremendously well.”paphiopedilum

Munoz loves the control that the Agra Tech greenhouses provide for McLellan/Tiasuco America. “We can grow the orchids more quickly and turn them faster,” he said. “We’re in the process of making everything computerized and right now Adam has helped us to changeover 70% of our systems. Eventually, we’ll be 100% computer-controlled, because we’re constantly upgrading and trying to be better. That’s why we’re so happy to be working with Agra Tech, because we get access to both their products and their expertise.”

Article by Edmund Attanasio

Additional Notes: The greenhouses were built in the 80’s and feature one of Agra Tech’s first Positive Pressure installations which is still providing insect exclusion and outstanding cooling even after 30 years. The customer stated that he gets a 5 to 7 degree temperature differential over 300’, unheard of in negative pressure greenhouses.

Munoz also told us that his maintenance cost for the Agra Tech greenhouses are almost nothing compared the other greenhouses on site.  1403394593000-00

AB Ludvig Svennson’s Climate Screens Give Greenhouse Growers More Control

12 proBy working with one of the world’s leading manufacturers of textile climate and environmental solutions, Agra Tech , Inc. of Pittsburg, CA is able to provide its clients with the ability to control their greenhouse growing applications, regardless of where they’re located or what they’re growing. A fourth generation family business run by siblings Anne and Anders Ludvigson, AB Ludvig Svennson (LS) provides a wide range of Climate Screens that are used to control the climates in greenhouses all over the world.

With headquarters in Kinna, Sweden and with daughter companies located in China, Holland, South Korea and the United States, LS makes energy fabrics that achieve the entire gamut of climate control, including reflecting the sun, blacking it out and diffusing its light evenly, just to name a few. By refining and further developing its Climate Screens over the years, LS has been able to provide more efficient shading properties, greater energy savings and thereby creating a more favorable growing climate for greenhouse growers.

Mauricio Manotas is the President of LS in the U.S. He has been spearheading his company’s operations in North America since the company came to this country in 1996. Manotas has been able to see the Climate Screens industry change rapidly as the technology has progressed. “It’s exciting to be working with some of the country’s leading greenhouse growers at LS,” Mantas said. “On the East Coast, there is more vegetable production and in the West, we’re selling more Climate Screens to companies that are doing research and development and growing flowers, for example. Our products allow our customers to control every aspect of the climate in their greenhouse and that’s why they can guarantee quality crops year round.”

LS features five different Climate Screens. Each has its own distinct purpose, depending on what you’re growing and where you’re located. To suit different growing conditions, the company’s Climate Screens come in more than 100 different variants. They are divided into five families according to their main features, which makes the selection process easier and more accurate.

The main five types of Climate Screens made by LS are

Harmony: Scatters sunlight evenly

Luxous: Provides maximum daylight

Obscura: Total blackout

Solara: Highly reflective/open for ventilation

Tempa: Uses aluminum strips to maximize energy savings

Manotas has been working with Agra Tech, Inc. since day one and appreciates the relationship. “We’ve developed a great relationship with John and Eloise Pound at Agra Tech and I know they were working with LS long before I came onboard. We’re a family business too, so ATI has a special place in our hearts. We’ve worked with them on a lot of projects over the years and we really respect their knowledge and experience. They’re a valuable distributor of our products and we’re proud to be working with them.”

LS just doesn’t sell its Climate Screens—they also bring a ton of their expertise to the table as well, according to Manota. LS and Manota are adept at working with greenhouse growers of all sizes—from 100-200 square feet all the way to enormous 40-acre greenhouses.

“Everything is custom made, so we work project-to-project. Each scenario is completely different, so you can’t ever take a ‘one size fits’ all approach,” he explained. “We analyze every scenario carefully and then we advise our customers about what they require. In many cases, the grower doesn’t know what they need, so we weigh all of the factors—the geography, the kinds of crops to grow and the type of greenhouse they’re using. We study their operation and look at it objectively. That way we come up with a blueprint in the form of a 6-7 page document that makes recommendations and offers them what we feel in an ideal solution. There is competition in this business, so we use our knowledge and experience to differentiate us from the rest. We want all of our ‘climate partners’ to maximize their yield and get the best crops they can, so that’s what we do in each situation. By setting our customers up for success, we hope that they will work for us on an ongoing basis, as they grow and experience continuing success.”

Interview with Hydroponics Pioneer Dr. Howard Resh

Dr Resh showing NFT hydroponic system

Dr Resh showing NFT hydroponic system

DR. Howard M. Resh, PhD is a universally known hydroponics researcher, author and practitioner and one of the world’s true pioneers in the field of hydroponics. He has incorporated commercial greenhouses from Agra Tech, Inc., one of the world’s leading manufacturers of greenhouses and considered a leader in the field, into several of his projects over the years and was kind enough to be interviewed for this article.

Well-known for implementing and managing commercial hydroponics operations worldwide, Dr. Resh has been the pivotal force behind successful hydroponics farming ventures in Taiwan, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, in addition to his efforts throughout North America. While he was a graduate student at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, B.C beginning in the early 1970s, Dr. Resh developed plant cultural techniques and three-part nutrient formulations for the growing of vegetable crops in greenhouses, many of which are designed and built by Agra Tech, Inc.

In 1999, Dr. Resh started a hydroponics farm on the island of Anguilla, B.W.I, in the Eastern Caribbean where he farms today, featuring an Agra Tech commercial greenhouse to grow more than 60 types of vegetables and other plants. Since 2007, Dr. Resh and his colleagues have been intensely studying hydroponic greenhouse issues in temperate and tropical regions on the planet, including Central and South America, Mexico, the Caribbean and Hawaii.

Known as an urban horticulturist, Dr. Resh strongly believes that progressive farming can take place at a high level of productivity in even the most crowded cities in the world. He acts as a consultant on a wide range of commercial hydroponic projects and has received numerous accolades for his work, lauded for being an author and an amazing educator at the university level. Many of his students have gone on to excel in the hydroponics greenhouse farming industry all over the globe, and utilizing greenhouses made by Agra Tech, in many instances.

In mid-1999, Resh became Hydroponic Greenhouse Farm Manager for the first Hydroponic Farm associated with a tourist resort: the Cuisinart Resort & Spa, in Anguilla, B.W.I. in the northeastern Caribbean. The project, which uses multiple greenhouses manufactured by Agra Tech, Inc., the Cuisinart hydroponic farm is the only one in the world owned by a resort growing its own fresh salad crops and herbs exclusively for the resort.

We sat down recently with Dr. Resh to find out what he’s currently working on while maintaining and developing new crops at the Cuisinart hydroponics greenhouse farm.

Q: Hello doctor. What are some of the newest and most intriguing developments within the hydroponics greenhouse growing field that you’re working on?

DR:  It’s definitely an exciting time within this industry. Now the hydroponics culture is being applied under many extreme conditions that were never even remotely considered by anyone before. For example, hydroponics is being performed successfully at a space station under zero gravity using water culture systems, and implemented in the growing of fresh salad crops in Antarctica.

Q:  I know you’re working on the creation of hydroponic farms on rooftops of buildings in cities?

DR: Yes, it’s a concept that isn’t new. We created a rooftop farm in Taipei, Taiwan in the mid-1980s. We’re very excited about these rooftop farms, because they can be used in the middle of some of the busiest and most crowded municipalities in the world. This is one of my real passions right now, because it is green and can help city dwellers to get fresh produce that is local, regional and sustainable.

 Q: People of all backgrounds are entering this industry and encountering great success, in many cases. Why do you think it’s grown at an explosive rate especially during the last decade?

DR: Hydroponics is a very unique form of agriculture that can be applied either on a very simple basic level all the way to extremely sophisticated scenarios, from a backyard hobbyist to growing crops using hydroponics in a space station, for example. People from former in-ground farming backgrounds have embraced this form of farming and are purchasing commercial greenhouses from companies such as Agra Tech in California. The keys to this form of farming are climate control, quality crops and more production, as opposed to conventional types of farming. It has opened the industry to a whole new group of participants and has introduced more science into the art of hydroponic growing. Also, it’s a green approach–saving water, soil and electricity in many cases—so people gravitate toward it for these reasons too.

Q:  I understand that you’re using Agra Tech greenhouses in your Cuisinart hydroponic farm?

DR: Yes, we do use a greenhouse from Agra Tech, designed to withstand hurricanes, because that is an issue here in Anguilla. We grow cherry and beef tomatoes, radishes, basil, large plants, European cucumbers, red, yellow and orange peppers, all types of lettuce, micro greens, mint, thyme, rosemary, lavender and everything we need for the hotels and restaurants at the resort. For more information and photos of this farm, you can visit my web site at: www.howardresh.com. The guests here appreciate the fresh vegetables and it’s been a very successful farm.

Q: What is the most innovative hydroponic greenhouse farming project you’re working on now?

DR: Farms like this one here in Anguilla will soon be sprouting up all over the world, I believe. I’m presently working on one in Mexico and another in Puerto Rico. Hopefully these two will be happening later this year.

Q: All kinds of people are getting into this business (retirees, military veterans, job changers, etc.) and making substantial profits. Why do you think so many former non-farmers are attracted to these hydroponic farms in greenhouse environments?

DR:  It appeals to a lot of retirees, especially if they’re semi-technical people, like engineers, because there is a lot of engineering involved in hydroponic farming. It turns them on and they respect the fact that they’re creating food, that’s a big aspect of it. If this new generation of farmers can find the proper markets to sell their crops, then that makes it more likely that they will succeed. It all comes down to where the farm is and what the markets in that area are willing to pay. This industry has become so much more sophisticated and it has changed a lot, due to the technology. Now it’s all about sustainable yielding, which means these new farmers want to generate their own electricity with solar cells and conserve energy more and more.

By Ed Attanasio