Nature Fresh Farms, one of the largest greenhouse pepper growers in North America produces green, red, orange and yellow peppers in the 12 Ha glasshouse at the operations phase 3 location in Leamington, Ontario.
Herman Fehr, the head pepper grower talks with detailed knowledge about the crop, the greenhouse climate, and the specific challenges that come with the extreme Southern Ontario climate.
During the cold Leamington winters, when temperatures commonly drop to -12ºC the operation's transparent LUXOUS 1347 H2NO FR screen ensures a reasonable energy input and an ideal micro-climate for the plants to thrive in. The screen is closed throughout the night, and often remains closed during much of the day. Typically when sun radiation levels of 300-400 W/m2 are reached on cold winter days the screen is opened. The "clear as glass" property of the LUXOUS energy screen allows for daytime usage.
Thanks to the H2NO function, the LUXOUS screen transmits just as much light when the screen is wet, with the H2NO feature creating a thin film-like layer of water on the bottom side of the screen with anti-reflecting properties that increase the light transmission.
While Leamington winters are very cold, the spring and summer days are often hot, sun-intense days in which the pepper crop must be protected, preventing plant temperatures from reaching too high. To solve this challenge, HARMONY 2515 O FR, an open light diffusing shade was installed in one greenhouse section last year. The HARMONY screen provides 25% shading in direct light, while also offering a high degree of diffused light in the greenhouse.
The climate in the HARMONY section was compared with another section of the same greenhouse equipped with light-diffusive paint on the roof and no shade screen installed. After monitoring the climate conditions in both sections it was found that during hot summer days the maximum greenhouse temperatures in both sections were the same, however, in the section with the mobile HARMONY screen, the crop received more cumulative light. "The plants grew more generative with better quality pepper's in the Harmony section" says Nature Fresh's Herman Fehr.
Herman was also very pleased that the Harmony screen could be fully closed, shielding the entire crop from intense sun radiation. "We feared there would not be enough air exchange but that wasn't a problem" says Herman. Because of the beneficial trial results, Harmony will be installed in a second section of Nature Fresh later this year.
Another unexpected benefit Nature Fresh detected was the ability to close the upper Harmony screen along with the LUXOUS screen, which resulted in 4ºC lower pipe temperatures compared to the reference section that was equipped with only the LUXOUS screen. In other words the HARMONY screen not only provides the desired on-demand shade in the spring and summer, it also provides extra energy savings in the winter.