Greenhouse Energy

In an industry with declining profit margins, and with volatile fuel prices, there is increasing need to grow greenhouse crops in an energy-efficient manner.  The best approach is to attack this industry threat using a variety of strategies.  In collaboration with horticulturists, agricultural economists, and agricultural engineers, we have developed this web site to provide summary information on production strategies and technologies that greenhouse growers can use to consume less energy and improve production efficiency.  Please click on the links above for more information on each topic.  Additional resources are below.
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Greenhouse Energy Conservation Strategies

This 16-page summary, in pdf format, presents 13 production strategies and technologies that greenhouse growers can use to reduce energy consumption and improve greenhouse production efficiency. Topics include:

  • Energy-efficient lighting
  • Managing greenhouse temperature
  • Reducing air leaks
  • Retractable curtains
  • Maintaining heating equipment
  • Horizontal air flow fans
  • Efficient ventilation systems

Although many of these concepts can apply to virtually any greenhouse-grown crop, the focus is on the production of floriculture crops in controlled greenhouse environments located in temperate climates. Written by Erik Runkle (Michigan State Univ.) and A.J. Both (Rutgers Univ.).

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In 2011, Erik Runkle worked with the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Washington, D.C.; the Dutch Ministry of Economics, Agriculture and Innovation; and Ferguson Caras LLC to explore how growers, industry leaders, and academics are addressing greenhouse sustainability issues. A series of interviews was performed on camera in the U.S. and the Netherlands, where topics such as energy, water, automation, and lighting were discussed. About 40 short videos, typically two to five  minutes in length, were created and are available at the project's YouTube channel.

We would like to thank the Michigan Floriculture Growers Council, who received a grant from the USDA Rural Development Office to help subsidize the costs of developing this energy resource.  In addition, Project GREEEN has provided funding to researchers at Michigan State University to generate research-based information on how to optimize temperature and light to increase greenhouse cropping efficiency and thus reduce energy consumption.

The information on this website was compiled and organized by Matthew Blanchard (former post-doctoral research associate) and Erik Runkle (professor), Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University.  If you would like to suggest a research-based article for this website, please E-mail Erik.

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Permissions: We have made every effort to seek permission to use all material that appears on this web site.  If we have inadvertently used anyone’s material without permission, we will be happy to make the necessary arrangements at the first opportunity; please contact MSU Printing Services Course Materials Program (Lynne Woods).  We especially thank Greenhouse Management magazine and Greenhouse Grower magazine for allowing us to post reprints of their articles on this website. 

Resources

  • An overview of long-day lighting

    Published on July 17, 2019

    There are a lot of factors to consider for effective and efficient long-day lighting. This article provides a brief overview of when and how to deliver lighting to create long days inside greenhouses.

  • Is green light useful to plants?

    Published on June 17, 2019

    There is some confusion about the efficacy of green light at promoting photosynthesis. This article explains why and how green light is useful to plants.

  • The economics of lighting young plants indoors

    Published on June 12, 2019

    This article provides the framework of the economics of indoor lighting of young plants (transplants). It includes example costs for an indoor plant factory in Japan, and provides highlights for indoor lighting used by two commercial growers in the U.S.

  • DLI 'requirements'

    Published on May 10, 2019

    This article provides daily light integral (DLI) guidelines to produce plants of at least moderate quality, assuming plants are grown at moderate temperatures.

  • A little far-red light goes a long way

    Published on May 3, 2019

    Part 4 of a 5-part series presents information on how a relatively low intensity of far-red light influences seedlings grown in fully controlled, indoor environments.

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