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!
Six-legged livestock -- sustainable food production
11.05.2017 | Faculty of Science - University of Copenhagen
Elephant Herpes: Super-Shedders Endanger Young Animals
04.05.2017 | Universität Zürich
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy