Project Details


Topic 1: Energy conservation and alternative energy sources Justification: As oil prices approach $100 per barrel, rising energy costs are clearly a concern for greenhouse growers. Strategies to reduce energy consumption, particularly for heating, include management, maintenance and, where justified, investment for upgrades of facilities and equipment. Topic 2: Water and nutrient solution management Justification: Optimizing the management of nutrient delivery systems, through control of electrical conductivity, can ensure plants are only provided the fertilizer concentration needed for healthy growth, without risk of nutrient deficiencies or the potential for nutrient toxicities and fertilizer runoff that result from fertilizer over-application. Topic 3: Sensors and control systems Justification: It is important to accurately measure and interpret the greenhouse environment in order to provide an optimum environment throughout a cropping cycle. Growers use a range of sensors and control systems, from manual control all the way to sophisticated computer control. Topic 4: Environmental effects on plant composition Justification: Research conducted by team members has the potential to make contributions to the fields of genetic engineering and human health. By manipulating the plant environment, it may be possible to stimulate specific gene expressions in plants, or increase the production and/or the quality of compounds important for the nutritional value of specific plants. Topic 5: Natural ventilation design and control Justification: Natural ventilation of greenhouses involves the use of sidewall and/or roof vents to cool the air and reduce humidity. Reducing heat stress and diseases caused by high temperature and humidity have a direct effect on the profitability of the greenhouse operation. Outcomes/Impacts: 1. Evaluation of biomass as a replacement fuel for propane and natural gas. 2. Optimized Argus Nutrient Delivery System. 3. Improved measurement and control techniques for using soil moisture sensors for crop irrigation. 4. Improved nutrient delivery systems that effectively incorporate recycling of nutrient solutions while maintaining optimum plant health and quality. 5. Improved grower investment advice for energy efficient use of heating fuels, including alternative fuels. 6. Improved understanding of greenhouse water use to allow for a reduction in water use as an input to crop production, including in semi-arid regions. 7. Improved natural ventilation models using CFD techniques, resulting in real-time control of natural ventilation of greenhouses. 8. Improved collaboration and information exchange with commercial greenhouse manufacturers represented by the NGMA (National Greenhouse Manufacturers' Association). In addition, commercial growers will have economic data on which to base decisions regarding: 1. Switching to various energy conservation measures and alternative energy sources. 2. Adopting improved nutrient deliver systems. 3. Using natural ventilation systems.
Effective start/end date10/1/089/30/13


  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture (National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA))


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