According to studies by the New Mexico State Agricultural Department, it was found that positive pressure cooling provides uniform distribution of cool air throughout the greenhouse. Delivered air is substantially cooler than with negative pressure systems by approximately 5-10 degrees. And when installed with thermal sensor and Agra Tech motor managers, the energy savings can be up to 50%.
While simple in concept, positive pressure cooling is actually an engineering challenge. Positive pressure cooling for the greenhouse is nothing new. As a matter of fact, it has been used for over forty years but its use has been limited to small areas and special applications. The engineering challenge is to make it effective in large areas for commercial growers. The main problem to overcome is the massive solar heat gain inside a greenhouse. Normally greenhouse cooling is achieved by moving large volumes of air. This solution conflicts with the main benefit of positive pressure cooling, restricting insect entry into the greenhouse environment. It is a catch 22 engineering problem. Good cooling requires moving large amounts of air. All that air brings many insects into the greenhouse.
There are three basic greenhouse-cooling systems: positive pressure, negative pressure and natural ventilation. Negative pressure systems generally pull all the air out of a greenhouse once a minute with fans and pads located on opposite walls. Solar heat gain will cause the air temperature to rise as it travels from wall to wall. In some cases it may increase 20 degrees from pads to fans. And more insects are sucked in every minute. The best natural ventilation system is only capable of matching the outside temperature and then all roofs and walls are open to insect infestation. Positive pressure systems force cool air into the greenhouse. The new cool air settles to the ground. The old air is warmed from the sun as it rises. It exits the ridge vents hot and far away from the crops.
Historically positive pressure systems used small packaged units. Low airflow and small pad areas limited their cooling performance. They were used mostly for research facilities and high value crops where a clean environment was more important than cooling and where high operating costs could be justified.
Agra Tech engineers have developed Agra Kool II, a system that overcomes the limitations of past positive pressure cooling systems making it a reliable cooling alternative for most growers. A steel covered frame is attached to one of the greenhouse walls. A standard cooling pad system is mounted to the outside. High volume jet-fans pull air through the pads and insect screens and force it into the greenhouse through special convection tubes. Integrated pressure sensitive ridge vents maintain pressure and allow heat to exit.
At Agra Tech, we have been on the technological edge of developing positive pressure greenhouse cooling for two decades. No other greenhouse manufacturer knows more about the engineering headaches inherent with positive pressure systems than us. Growers have been relentless in their need for new and improved greenhouse cooling systems. So have we.
Sunridge Nurseries is excited to announce that it has embarked on an expansion project that will increase their overall production area by an additional 7 acres of greenhouses and shade houses. These state of the art, Agra-Tech solar light ranges will come equipped with the latest technologies in greenhouse climate and irrigation controls. By incorporating higher gutter heights, ridge roof vents and internal shade curtains, coupled with energy efficient double wall polycarbonate coverings, we expect to shorten our crop time on potted grafted vines and do it with fewer energy inputs. Other features include the addition of HAF fans and light diffusion in the polycarbonate coverings which will allows us to grow at higher crop densities without sacrificing plant quality.
The expansion project will increase our overall capacity by 2 million potted vines under a protected insect free environment. This, along with all concrete flooring and roadways throughout the entire project and our continued use of all metal benching, will help to provide for a more disease free growing area. The ability to wash down benches, floors and walkways with disinfectants both before and after vines move thru the facility is a critical step in keeping the vines free of unwanted diseases.
by Michael Vietti
Read the Blog: Sunridge Nurseries Undergoes Large Greenhouse Expansion