Tag Archives: Energy Shield Curtain Systems

Trevor Airola: The Student Becomes the Teacher

Trevor with the first group of FFA students to go through the program While most 24-year-olds are out there finding themselves and considering their career options, Trevor Airola has already landed the job of his life and if everything works out for the young man, it will be the only position he will ever hold.

A former graduate of the nationally renowned Agriculture Program at Bret Harte Union High School in Angels Camp, CA, Airola has returned to become an instructor for the school’s Agriculture Department after graduating from California State University, Chico with a BS in Agricultural Science in 2013.

Carrie Phillips, one of Airola’s teachers at Bret Harte, now works with Trevor. She recognized his enthusiasm for this field almost immediately, so she is not surprised that he is back as an instructor. “Oh absolutely, his passion was evident right away and he wanted to learn as much as he could,” she said. “Under the mentoring of Roy Beck, our former director (now retired), Trevor has accumulated extensive knowledge and is always excited to share it with his students. I predict a great future for Trevor as a teacher and a leader here at Bret Harte.”

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There are three pathways that agriculture students can choose from at Bret Harte High School, including Agriculture Science, in which they learn about basic plant and animal science, California agriculture, citizenship and leadership. The second pathway is agricultural mechanics, where they can study about things such as welding, woodworking and fabrication, for example. And the third pathway offered by the department is the horticultural concentration, dealing with subjects like floral design and plant science. For all of their classes every Ag student receives UC/CSU A-G credits upon completion.

Agra Tech’s Jim Bergantz is known as the school’s “Green Father”, because he has helped the program in so many ways, Airola explained. “Jim Bergantz is a wonderful person, because he cares about the greenhouse industry and is willing to consult us on how to do things the right way. He showed us what to plant and how to market it. He provided us with a manual that clearly describes each step and we refer to it often. We re-did our irrigation, made the greenhouse virtually turnkey and made it ready for plants. Without Jim and Agra Tech, we would not be where we are now.”

When Airola needed assistance with a greenhouse retrofit at a previous school, he called Bergantz for help. “I told him, I am going to need to contact Agra Tech and I asked him does he know anyone there?” Well, Jim told me–‘I am your guy’. He had just been hired as a sales rep by Agra Tech and I thought–wow, this is cool! So, by working with Agra Tech and Jim, we got it done!”

The Ag Department at Bret Harte is considered by many to be one of the best in the country, with one-third of the school’s enrollment involved in one or more of the school’s three pathways. “I used to have to recruit students to enter this program back when I was a student myself or when I was working with the department while attending college,” Airola said. “But, now that I am here–all of my classes are full. We have no more room so we’re literally turning kids away.”

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Newly married and now poised to perform at a high level in the best job he’ll ever have, he explained, Airola is both grateful and hopeful. “Yes, this is a dream job and a special opportunity. If I can even come close to filling Mr. Beck’s shoes after three decades in this position, I will be very happy. Teaching kids to becoming better people and leaders while showing them how to produce food–that’s a big deal.”

As the greenhouse growing industry continues to gain momentum, Airola believes that his students will be in a good position when they graduate from one of the pathways offered at Bret Harte. “There is a huge need for people who know how to manage greenhouses, so our graduates will be in demand. There are opportunities for college scholarships and so many other options for them to choose from. It is an exciting time in this industry, because of the technology and how it is changing all the time.”

So, in 30 years, when greenhouses produce a new crop every week and students drive autonomous cars to and from their personal greenhouses, will Trevor still be there showing them the way? “I sure hope so,” he said. “This is my hometown and I would really love to stay here for many, many years. As my students get out there in the industry, I am hoping that some of them too will come back and help us in some capacity, which would be great.”

Written by: Edmund Attanasio
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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.”

Agra Tech’s Energy Curtains Provide Control and Significant Energy Savings

Agra Tech’s Energy Curtains Provide Control and Significant Energy Savings

By controlling the growing environment in a commercial greenhouse and being able to manipulate the weather at any time, Energy Shield Curtain Systems manufactured by Agra Tech, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of commercial greenhouses, are used by growers throughout the country for a plethora of different uses.

John Pound, owner of Agra Tech, Inc. has seen literally thousands of applications for his greenhouses in conjunction with his Energy Curtains, so he knows the best ways to use them and how to achieve optimum results in almost any greenhouse scenario, he said.

It’s all about control and saving energy in the process,” Pound explained. “By using this product, you can produce better quality plants and that’s what every grower is striving for. By incorporating the fabrics that suit them the best, growers can keep the heat in or get the cold out, depending on their plants, their geographical location and the time of the year.

In short, Agra Tech’s Energy Curtains are retractable interior ceiling curtains system manufactured for use in Agra Tech greenhouses. All Agra Tech structures are factory punched to accept the Energy Shield, which allows growers to add them conveniently after they install their greenhouses and are up and running.

By choosing from a wide range of shade fabrics that have been designed to reflect excess sun back out the roof in greenhouses, Energy Curtains by Agra Tech, Inc. can provide a cooler climate in the greenhouse if desired. By using thermal curtain fabrics, growers can retain more heat in their greenhouse on cool days and overnight. Most fabrics on Agra Tech’s energy curtains have both shade and thermal value, making them versatile and thereby easier to use.

The basic features built into Agra Tech’s curtain systems improve growing environments while maximizing energy savings; enhancing space utilization, and assuring continued problem-free performance. They’re available in Slope-Flat-Slope systems or can be used in a Flat system. All Agra Tech Energy Curtains can be either computer or manually controlled, powered by Agra Tech’s certified motor/gearboxes and controllers. The Energy Shield Curtain System can also be retro-fitted into non-ATI greenhouses.

Agra Tech has designed all of its Energy Curtains for easy installation and drama-free maintenance, Pound explained. “All of our greenhouses are set up so that an Energy Curtain can be added at any point, because all off the frames already contain all of the necessary mounting holes, etc. Many customers will purchase a commercial greenhouse from us and then down the road they will opt to incorporate the Energy Curtain. It’s like when people buy a house and then add a deck or a patio, for example. They’re enhancing the greenhouse’s performance and saving money almost immediately.”

Once installed, Agra Tech’s Energy Shield Curtain Systems work automatically and require little attention, according to Pound. “It’s simple to set up the timing and once you’ve got it dialed in, you can forget about it and concentrate on more important things. In the end, the quality of the plants will improve and that’s our #1 priority. And by consuming less energy these curtains are a smart investment, because they optimize the greenhouse’s purpose and eventually pay for themselves several times over, in many instances.”

Sunridge Nurseries in Bakersfield, California uses Agra Tech, Inc.’s Energy Curtains in all of its 28 ATI greenhouses, as they help the company to produce more than 6 million grape vines annually for wineries worldwide. Eloy Rodriguez oversees the growing of these vines and could not do his job as effectively without his Energy Curtains, he explained.

Our season runs from December through June,” Rodriguez said. “So, we have to keep the vines warm in the winter and cool them down as we enter summer. Agra Tech’s Energy Curtains allow us to completely control and monitor our plants, so that we can produce the best quality season after season. Every morning, we determine how much light we want in the greenhouses, and the curtains make it so easy to achieve. 20 years ago, we had to get up on top of the greenhouses and lay netting along the roof. It was all manual and very time consuming. Now, it’s just a matter of pushing a button.”

Sunridge Nurseries has been slowly replacing its original Agra Tech Energy Curtains, which it began purchasing in 1984, Rodriguez said. “We started changing them for newer ones about six years ago. These curtains will last 10-12 years, so we’ve been retiring roughly eight each year. They’re highly reliable, very easy to maintain and have performed extremely well since the first day we installed them.”

Agra Tech’s Slope-Flat-Slope design includes:

  • A dryer growing climate is maintained due to the air mass below the curtain that enables excellent air circulation.
  • Morning crop shock is minimized because there is less cold ceiling air above the curtain to drop on the crop when the curtain opens.
  • Better energy savings are acheived because of the small air space between the curtain and the glazing.
  • Space is better utilized because equipment can be hung below the curtain, leaving ample room above the curtain for ridge vents.

Agra Tech’s Push-Pull design includes:

  • Push-pull describes the drive mechanics of the system. It is a high strength, low friction, rigid system requiring little maintenance.
  • The curtain is pushed and pulled to open and close.
  • Continuous 1 3/8″ pipes run from end to end of the greenhouse connecting the entire system together. They are driven by steel racks and pinions and supported within low friction roller guides.

All Agra Tech Energy Curtains include:

  • Galvanized steel racks and pinions for long life and low maintenance.
  • Spring steel fabric clips
  • Most support and restraint monofilament cables in industry
  • Full leading edge and gutter seals included

By: Ed Attanasio