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!
Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University
New findings about the deformed wing virus, a major factor in honey bee colony mortality
11.11.2016 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine