Growing Structures Webinar
Questions & Answers
- I am interested in retrofitting an existing building to use as a growing space. I want to replace the roof with greenhouse film to let some heat and light in. Can FarmTek help me design a solution?
Absolutely, that is what we're here for. We would need a few pictures or a diagram of what you want to do so we can make the best recommendation. We can suggest what type of film will work best for you or, if you wanted something a little more permanent, whether you should use twin wall polycarbonate or corrugated polycarbonate.
- Do you have any expertise on the business end such as marketing or economic analysis? Or do you focus solely on the structures themselves?
We focus on the structures themselves. Many of our National Account Managers have a background in either horticulture or agriculture and a few have experience with the business end, but it is not our area of expertise.
- Have you ever put a greenhouse on the flat roof of an existing building?
Yes, we have designed a number of greenhouses that have been installed on the roof of an existing building. When designing a structure for this purpose it is important to consider a number of factors, including how much weight the roof will take and local building codes.
- Can you do energy modeling with various options to understand the heating and cooling costs?
We have a software program with a calculator that will give you an idea of the cost of propane or natural gas based on the USDA low averages for where you live. It's just a matter of plugging in a couple numbers. We can tell you approximately how much propane or natural gas you will use over a certain period of time and approximately how much it would cost.
- What is the difference between high tunnels and cold frames?
Both growing structures will extend your growing season, but the main difference between the two is what is included with your purchase. A cold frame's structure is typically shorter than that of a high tunnel, and when you purchase it, you're just buying the frame. The covering and any accessories would have to be purchased a-la-carte after that. A high tunnel typically has a longer frame, but more importantly comes with everything included. You can choose from a greenhouse film or fabric for the covering, as well as drop-down or roll-up sides and end panels. In summary, a cold frame is the bare bones and a high tunnel is the complete package.
- What is the commitment associated with NRCS grants?
It is a 3 year commitment and during those three years you are required to grow for your local community. That being said, some states have requirements for specific crops. Although this is a federally funded program it is state-run. For example, some northern growing states are accepting contracts specifically for berry growing. The commitment terms depend on where you live. I would recommend contacting your local NRCS agent to find out the requirements of your commitment.
- Is polycarbonate suitable for gothic style greenhouses?
Yes, twin-wall and corrugated polycarbonate each have a specific bend radius and there is an optimum temperature that you use when installing it. We use both varieties of polycarbonate in our designs.
- The building codes in our area limit building height to 13', but we are interested in the highest straight sidewall possible. What do you suggest?
We have certain models that have very high side walls. The Majestic Greenhouses have a 10' side wall height and our Pro Solar Star™ Gothic Style Greenhouses have a 6' side wall height. Our design and manufacturing teams can custom-build anything that you are looking for.
- How do you ensure that the heating and cooling systems you provide meet the requirements of the greenhouse?
We have several formulas that we use to calculate the heating and cooling needs of a greenhouse. The first formula deals with the volume of air within the structure, which is simply the length x width x height. This will tell us how many cubic feet per minute a heating or cooling system must be able to handle. For example, a 25'W x 90'L x 8'H structure should have a heating, cooling or ventilation system that can properly maintain temperatures in at least 18,000 cubic feet of air. Determining the volume of air in a greenhouse is the basic formula. When determining the required BTUs, we also take into consideration the location of the structure, application, the average low temperature in the structure and the temperature the structure needs to be, the type of covering and many other things depending on the specific application. Once we have the CFM and BTU requirements, we use those numbers to size a system that is appropriate for the needs of the structure.
Read our High Tunnels Buyer's Guide
Read our Cold Frames Buyer's Guide
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