How Do Commercial Glasshouses Use Technology?
While greenhouses may have been around for thousands of years, it’s only in recent decades that technology has transformed the commercial growing landscape. More science lab than garden, commercial glasshouses are at the cutting edge of gardening innovation. Capable of producing food at incredible rates and volume with optimal efficiency, commercial growers are forever pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA).
We’ve come a long way from the oiled translucent sheets of Roman times and crude, expensive glass of bygone centuries. And commercial growers have led the charge. Since lighter, cheaper, better quality glass and metals became available during the Industrial Revolution, the materials used in glasshouse construction have undergone massive change. For example, the invention of light, rust proof aluminium frames was a gamechanger and the introduction of polyethylene film during the 1960s made greenhouses more accessible to all.
Material technology continues to improve commercial and home greenhouse efficiency, with materials like polycarbonate and various new types of glass and plastic coming into the mix. At Harvst, we put a lot of research into using the best materials for the job. That’s why our Harvst Greenhouses have an aluminium structure and 4mm twin-wall polycarbonate walls for effective light transmission and temperature control.
While our ancient ancestors were pretty much at the mercy of the sun, we’re been lucky enough to be able to control light in our greenhouses since Russian botanist Andrei Famintsyn first experimented with artificial grow lights in the 19th century. Many different types of grow light are used, from fluorescent and incandescent lights to HIDs (High Intensity Discharge Lamps) and LEDs.
Finding ever more effective, cost efficient and greener light sources is an ongoing area of research in the commercial greenhouse industry – with laser technology being an area of interest for the future.
Digital technology and automation
Digital technology and automation have been game changers in the commercial glasshouse industry. The ability to automate processes and control, monitor and analyse every aspect of the growing environment by computer allows for significantly higher efficiency and yield all year round.
Seeding weeding and harvesting are taken care of by robots. Solar panels capture sunlight to power essential processes. The control system can automatically adjust the environment – heat , light, ventilation, moisture – to perfectly match the crop, as well as collect useful data. Sensor technology means that precious resources like water and power are used only when necessary, not wasted. Going forward, it’s really exciting to see how the next commercial glasshouse inventions will shape the future of sustainable agriculture.
The impact of commercial glasshouse technology
Feeding the world’s growing population and our climate emergency are both huge concerns, which is why these commercial high-tech solutions are so important in creating sustainable food sources for the future.
Being able to bring commercial level technology to your back garden is something we’re really proud of at Harvst. With our cutting-edge growing tech at your fingertips, it’s possible to feed yourself and your family all year round, rather than having to rely on mass producers for your fresh food. With Harvst smart mini greenhouses making controlled growing more accessible to people all over the UK – whether you have a large rural garden or small urban back yard – we hope everyone can join in the grow your own revolution.
If you want to know more about our smart mini greenhouses, pop in to our Cardigan HQ, check out our info page or book a chat with one of our friendly Harvst team (just click on the ‘Call me’ button on our contact page)!