Located in the Agropark complex in Queretaro, Mexico, Hydrofoods is dedicated to the growth of vegetables in high-tech greenhouses. In 2012 the operation underwent a 10 Ha expansion, and with the expansion arose the need for new climate screens. A firm screen believer, Hydrofoods had seen great success using closed aluminum screen in the past. However, for their latest expansion, they selected Svensson’s light diffusing Harmony screens to further maximize benefits throughout the year.
“What I like about Harmony is that it diffuses light and doesn’t create condensation. The screen doesn’t leave fixed shadows over the crop and light spreads similar to that of whitewash, however, the major difference being that we can use the screen to react to unexpected climate changes, like those that have occurred more frequently in the past years.” notes Grower, Cecilia Barrera.
The plant transpiration and interaction with the screen is optimal; relative humidity saturation in the environment is avoided. “We feel that the plants can breathe through the screen. By using Harmony, we’ve achieved 90% relative humidity in an adult cultivation. We detect uniform maturity and better colors when harvesting- something we haven’t seen with the use of paint."
Gerardo Cortés, Hydrofoods’ head of maintenance, has undoubtedly made great progress when it comes to the learning curve of using their screen vs. painting, conducting numerous tests comparing the use of their Harmony 4145 screen and the use of whitewash. “There are substantial savings during times of excessive sunlight. We have seen considerable savings in water management and have had to decrease our water usage with the screen due to excessive drainage. When maintaining desired drainage levels, we’re better able to avoid elongating the plants. We have reduced irrigation and fertilization costs by up to 15%. As far as light measurements between the blocks with whitewash and the blocks with screens we’ve seen a difference of 1 lux. The major advantage is that we no longer require a crew dedicated specifically to applying and removing the paint, which minimizes risks in the operation."
Cecilia adds that there has even been an improvement to the pollination, detecting greater activity in the bumblebees with the use of Harmony; because they are cooler there is a better growth environment.
In regards to her experience, Cecilia concludes “With the Harmony screen, we create a better climate by capturing greater amounts of direct sunlight in the morning and afternoon, and diffuse light during peak hours. Our irrigation is more efficient, and we have greater control over humidity. Not to mention, we continue to save energy during cold fall and winter nights."