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By Charlotte Penn, Agricultural Energy Consultant
THERE are many sophisticated methods available to help growers save energy, but the fabric of the grow environment itself is often overlooked.
However, as the ongoing energy crisis continues to put a squeeze on profit margins, this simple approach is becoming increasingly vital.
In my experience, there are plenty of retro-fit options which can cut energy use (and costs) and optimise the glasshouse climate for your specific crop.
Installing sensors is a relatively simple step to measure energy use, temperatures and humidity. Once the data has been collected and analysed, it allows you to make informed decisions about other potential changes.
Energy screens have been widely used by growers for years because they can help control humidity and achieve a uniform growing environment. But if they’ve been in constant use, the screens may suffer from gaps and tears in the material, reducing their energy-saving effectiveness.
New screening systems benefit from the latest light-transmission technology and are made from modern energy-saving materials, saving more heat energy and emitting more light levels when deployed.
With a wide range of screen materials and different thicknesses available, simply switching to an updated version could deliver significant performance improvements.
Obviously, the cost of replacement varies depending on the glasshouse dimensions and age of the system, but the existing mechanical parts do not usually need to be changed, so replacing the old screen materials should modernise the entire set-up.
If you don’t already employ side screens, using them in conjunction with overhead screens can help overcome humidity and temperature variations.
Switching to LED lightbulbs can also produce staggering savings – and does not always require the fittings of existing lighting systems to be upgraded.
Whichever crop you grow; we can easily tell you if energy savings can be made by conducting a detailed audit.
If this is something you’d like to discuss, please email [email protected] or call 01430 449440 for an informal discussion.