In parts of the United States where ornamental and vegetable plants are produced in greenhouses during cold seasons, heating costs are second only to labor costs for greenhouse operators.
Greenhouse growers are faced with important management decisions that rely on understanding how temperature settings, heating systems, fuel types, and construction decisions influence their heating costs. To address the lack of user-friendly computer programs currently available for calculating heating costs in greenhouse operations, scientists have created a state-of-the-art system they call "Virtual Grower".
"Virtual Grower was designed to help calculate heating costs at many U.S. sites," said Jonathan Frantz, a researcher with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service. The program uses a weather database of typical hourly temperature, light, and wind information of 230 sites from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Frantz and colleagues Bryon Hand, Lee Buckingham, and Somik Ghose reported on their cost-saving program in HortTechnology.
Highlights of Virtual Grower are features that allow users to define unique design characteristics such as building material and construction style. "Users can also define the type of heating system and heating schedule; the program will then predict heating costs based on typical weather at the selected location", Frantz said. Using the 'Add New Greenhouse', button on the site, values are automatically populated for greenhouse name, length, width, knee wall height, materials, fuel types, infiltration, and heating system efficiency. Users can change the values in drop-down windows or describe the house in more detail through additional buttons on the screen. The program also features methods for estimating typical commercial-scale heating system efficiencies and air infiltration values.
The team has plans to enhance the capabilities of Virtual Grower. "Adding plant growth and development models will allow for scheduling and an assessment of plant quality, while improving the realism in heating systems and partitioning of greenhouses would provide more realistic simulation opportunities," they said. "Carbon footprints could be calculated from the existing software's framework, and predictions of plant pest outbreaks and water use could also be folded in, with linkages to the historical weather database already used."
"Continued development will improve the software and allow users to perform baseline analysis of their heating costs, identify areas in their production to improve efficiency, and take some of the guesswork out of energy analysis in greenhouses", Frantz said.
The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortTechnology electronic journal web site: http://horttech.ashspublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/20/4/778
Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education, and application. More information at ashs.org
Michael W. Neff | EurekAlert!
New 3-D model predicts best planting practices for farmers
26.06.2017 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Fighting a destructive crop disease with mathematics
21.06.2017 | University of Cambridge
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...
Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision
Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
20.07.2017 | Information Technology
20.07.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy