Ventilation Methods: Low-Tech to Automated High-Tech

May 3, 2017   

Within a few muggy or sweltering hours, greenhouse crops can be shocked and damaged during vital stages of growth and development. Greenhouse humidity and temperature can quickly become the enemy of production if growers do not implement proper ventilation within their system. Humidity and heat can be combated using a wide range of low and high-tech methods and tools, and the size and budget of an operation should be considered when applying new tools to your greenhouse system.

The most basic tool to help you understand your greenhouse needs and inefficiencies is a hygrometer. A hygrometer measures humidity or water vapor in the air. Steadily tracking humidity readings can provide a grower with invaluable insight into the stresses facing their plants. When humidity gets too high, roll-up and drop-down sides are a low-tech, cost effective and immediate way to ventilate your greenhouse. For additional ventilation, end doors left wide open can help to create cross-ventilation throughout the length of the greenhouse. Roof or ridge vents are another great, affordable way to get fresh air to your crop canopy. Simple vents are the most economical way to create air flow.

Slightly more advanced tools, like room-to-room ventilators, can easily be installed to pull hot air out of the greenhouse, while supplying it with cooler temperatures from the outside. Exhaust fans come in all ranges of technological advancement. Of course, large fans are also a great improvement to a greenhouse. Without ventilation, heat rises dramatically within a couple of hours in a closed greenhouse. Even with ventilation, sometimes the heat and sun exposure is too oppressive for certain crops. To contest extremes, shade cloths are a much more affordable method of climate control than automated products, and that can be invaluable additions to an operation using these tools.

Today’s market is filled with new and exciting high-tech systems for futuristic farmers. Precision through mechanical automation is absolutely the future of farming. Using high-tech tools can make an operation more sustainable and profitable by decreasing the chances of crop loss. High-tech greenhouse ventilation and climate control ranges from using an automated shade system to avoid overheating, to an integrated cooling thermostat and dehumidistat that responds to excess heat and moisture in the atmosphere, triggering control over fans, exhaust systems or vents. For cooler climates, this can mean turning on a heating system at night to avoid accumulating moisture.

Implementing any single automated or high-tech tool in your greenhouse system can significantly benefit your operation success and work experience. Combining low and high-tech solutions is an efficient way to begin the mechanical evolution of your farm. Over years of growing, many farmers find that their desire to do everything for themselves conflicts with the effects of years of physical labor. High-tech grow-ops can keep older farmers in business longer while lightening their workload, and minimize the physical strains on younger farmers. With more time on your hands, a high-tech system can allow you to focus on other aspects of your business.

Tips for Ventilation:

However you choose to ventilate your greenhouse, make sure you are using enough energy and ventilation for your space. This will help you to prevent wasteful costs that do not help your plants. Maintain sufficient space in between individual plants to allow your canopy’s moisture to evaporate, avoiding mildew and pest development. Refrain from watering at night and overhead watering, generally, because relative humidity rises and accumulates in cooler temperatures, so be sure your greenhouse is dry when dusk falls and cooler temperatures prevail. A weedy greenhouse can be a host to pests and transpire even more moisture, so be sure to remove weeds as they pop up. Think about initiating a high-tech cycle of a combined heat and venting system to run early in the morning and two or three times per hour after the sun has set.

Keep plants comfortable and your workspace bearable with proper ventilation. Ventilation tools come in a huge variety of low and high-tech capabilities, so cost should never be an issue when coming up with a system to combat humidity and heat. Any of these options, when used correctly, can have a significantly positive effect on your greenhouse success and seasonal longevity throughout the year.

Find dozens of ventilation options at Growers Supply or contact a Greenhouse Specialist to ask about your climate controlled greenhouse project.

Contributed by Amanda Williams