Tag Archives: interior ceiling curtains system

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

 

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