Coletta & Tyson, one of Europe’s largest specialist independent producers of ornamental plants, is a vast operation by any standards – with nurseries on several sites in East Yorkshire covering 162 Ha in total, producing 100 Million plants a year.
A crucial part of their overall operation takes place at Poplar Nurseries in Cottingham where Business Unit Manager Phil Crocker is responsible for raising high value young plants from seed. Phil needs to protect the tender young seedlings from strong direct sunlight and until recently, like many growers producing in older glass greenhouses, he applied an external whitewash every spring to achieve the shading needed during the summer.
That’s certainly a relatively cheap way to protect the plants, but comes with obvious disadvantages too. "Once it’s on, it’s on for months" says Phil "so on dull days after application the plants don’t get all the light they really need."
Installing screens began to look like a desirable option, but the old venlo houses with narrow bays and only 3m to the eaves wasn’t an ideal starting point. Phil doubted that screens would really be practical, so he contacted a greenhouse equipment supplier more in hope than expectation. The supplier has experience installing screens in all sorts of applications and had plenty of previous success in similar greenhouses, so they were confident that they could install a successful, reliable solution.
"They were very professional in their whole approach" says Phil "a Svensson consultant presented the beneficial properties of the solution, so we were able to make sure that the screen would give us the performance we were looking for." The climate screen chosen was Svensson’s HARMONY 5220 O FR, a polyester, flame retardant material which provides 52% shade (diffused light) and up to 20% energy saving.
"The installation went really well and the screen was fitted in our existing houses perfectly" says Phil. "It worked just as we wanted from day one, and we’ve had no teething troubles since. The Harmony screen creates a diffused light which is ideal for our seedlings and gives us a 20% energy saving as well. On top of that, we can draw the screen back completely on dull days, so that we maximise seedling growth even when the weather is not ideal"
So is Phil happy with his decision? "I think the screen was great value for money and I love the effect it has on the greenhouse climate. It’s good for our seedlings and provides a more pleasant working environment for my staff."