- Greenhouse Irrigation
- Automatic Watering for Your Garden and Greenhouse
- 4 Greenhouse Watering Systems
- Ornamental Production
- Greenhouse irrigation system types
- The Simple Guide to Greenhouse Irrigation
- The Ins & Outs of Greenhouse Irrigation
- What Is Irrigation?
- What is Drip Irrigation?
- The Greenhouse Irrigation Strategy
- Running Water: Where Water Travels in a Greenhouse
- Fun Facts on Greenhouse Irrigation
- Water for the Win!
FarmTek offers Drip Irrigation Systems, Misting Systems, Sprinkler Systems and hand watering supplies — everything you need to water your plants, flowers and vegetables. The most efficient method of irrigation, drip irrigation uses up to 70% less water compared to flood irrigation and can more than double your crop yield. From greenhouse and high tunnel watering to field irrigation, we have all the watering equipment you’ll need including garden hose, hose connectors, water weeper hose, coil hoses, PVC tubing and more. Our assortment of rigid risers, flexible risers and CFD downspray assemblies are available in assorted lengths to suit your needs and can help to reduce splashing and assure even wetting of soil and diffusion of nutrients. Interested in saving time and money on watering? Consider using our capillary mats which are made from 100% needle-punched polypropylene, non-woven filter fabric. Capillary mats are an economical and efficient means of watering gardens and they help to ensure that your plants and seedlings always have an ample supply of water to their root systems. And for those who’d like to “go green” we offer rain barrels, also called rain harvesters, that collect rooftop runoff rain water that can be used to water greenhouse plants as well as outdoor crops.
Read our Irrigation Buyer’s Guide.
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Automatic Watering for Your Garden and Greenhouse
As your garden expands, so does your caretaking commitment. So how do you care for all of your plants when you go on a quick or extended vacation? Most importantly, who is going to water all of your plants for you? If you are not fortunate enough to have a friend or neighbor to offer their generous services, there are some great solutions to make watering your garden and greenhouse easy and automatic while you are away.
Water automatically with the Oasis Watering System
The Oasis Watering System is basically a self-contained drip irrigation system. You fill the reservoir of water and program the timer to set the watering intervals and days. The water drips through tubing to water up to 20 plants for 40 days. It runs on a 9 volt battery so you don’t have to run electricity or a hose to the unit.
-Easy to use
-No electricity or faucet hook up needed
-Waters a large variety of plants
Waterwise drip irrigation system
The Waterwise is a drip irrigation system that was designed for it’s simplicity. It is an all-inclusive kit with step by step instructions to help you set up a customized drip system. You can water up to 10 containers or run the drip line through a flower bed. The system must be connected to a faucet. You can add a programable timer to your faucet to program a watering schedule. You can also add onto the system to water up to 30 plants.
-Expandable, can add muiltiple units to the same water source
-Easy to use
DriWater Gel is a combination of 98% water and 2% food grade ingredients. The enzymes in the soil gradually break down the DriWater gel and convert it back into liquid to water your plant roots. It’s easy to use. You just cut the package lengthwise and place it cut side down near the stem of the plant. Dri Gel waters your plant for up to 30 days. You can add additional packages for larger plants. For outdoor plants, you should still have someone come and water and check on your plants when it gets really hot.
-Easy to use
-No special equipment or attachments needed
Do a test run. Try your automatic watering solution for a week, and make sure your plants are getting the water they need to survive while you are gone.
4 Greenhouse Watering Systems
Greenhouses are perfect for year-round plants and vegetables but of course greenhouses do not have contact with rainfall. Every greenhouse needs some kind of watering system, from the most basic to the most advanced.
The simplest of greenhouse irrigation systems is the hand-held can. It is also quite effective in that you can get the water to go wherever it is needed especially with difficult-to-reach areas of soil. While the watering can is lightweight and easy to use, it quickly becomes impractical as the size of the greenhouse and the plants within it increase. Generally, the watering can is best used on the smallest of greenhouses.
Once again, the hose is one of the more simple and least expensive ways to water plants in a greenhouse environment. The problem lies in getting the water where it is needed most. With hoses, it is the leaves that tend to get the majority of the moisture rather than the soil and roots. For smaller greenhouses, however, the hose can be very effective. For larger greenhouses, it can soon become impractical.
A mister system works by releasing small droplets of water over the tops of the plants. This keeps the leaves cool while still providing all the water that is needed. The water is released intermittently throughout the day but the system is not without its problems.
Temperature regulation and dryness can be an issue, as these units are left open a great deal of the time. It is also essential that the equipment is in good working order at all times. The small holes on the nozzle can frequently become clogged if not checked and cleaned regularly.
Similar to the garden hose, a seep hose has thousands of tiny holes that allow water to drain from the line. These are generally buried about 2 to 3 inches below the soil, allowing the water to come out along the length of the hose.
Seep hoses are known for their efficiency. The can generate a regular supply of water to the plants and lose very little to evaporation. They also reduce the chances of mold and mildew building up as a seep hose will not overwater the leaves. This is good for root formation, as roots search downward rather than sideways for their water requirements.
The choice of greenhouse watering system is going to depend largely on the size of the greenhouse and the types of plants being grown. Those with a simple greenhouse and household vegetables will likely get away with a watering can or hose. If you have larger aspirations or commercial businesses, look into something automated that can meet your needs.
Different irrigation systems in greenhouses
- Micro sprinklers Among the most popular are the micro sprinklers which have a range of about 2 meters, depending on the pressure of the type of nozzle used. There are emerging micro sprinklers that are the ones that, when they open the passage of the water, leave from the ground, and when the passage of the same one is closed they go back inside. Another type of sprinklers are the mobiles that are placed at the end of the hose and move from one place to another.
The system of irrigation in greenhouses by micro sprinklers is preferable for the sandy textures since they cover more surface and it is ideal for the irrigation of roses, small flowers and small areas.
- Irrigation with diffusers In the case of irrigation systems in greenhouses with diffusers, we say that these accessories are similar to sprinklers and are used for irrigation in narrower areas; usually the water pressure will depend on the step that is given to it since this model has a kind of screw at the end of its nozzle that regulates it manually.
- Underground irrigation The irrigation system in underground greenhouses is the method most used in these days. This irrigation system treats of perforations in the pipes that are buried to a certain depth, more or less between 10 and 50 CMS. This will depend on whether the soil is more clay or sandy. One of the advantages of this irrigation system is that by not being exposed to the air it produces a smaller loss of water.
- Irrigation with hose The system of irrigation in greenhouses through the use of the hose is not very advisable for greenhouses since being a manual system the person in charge must dedicate a lot of time to this activity, in addition, an optimum uniformity is never achieved because water falls in some places more than in others.
If a hose is going to be used, it is necessary to take into account those manufactured with some material that does not bend because the folds or folds interrupt the passage of water and hinder the mobility of the individual.
Most Used System for Irrigation of Greenhouses
Drip irrigation This system of irrigation in greenhouses is used to locate the water at the foot of each plant. There are two models, integrated and button. The first ones are in the same pipe, while the button ones are applied in the pipe. This irrigation system in greenhouses has the advantage of saving large amounts of water and also maintains a constant level of humidity in the soil without causing puddles or water stagnation. Also using this system you can use saline water since the saline water provides extra water to wash the salts in much deeper areas going below the roots. It also allows the application of dissolved fertilizers that go directly to the plant; In this irrigation system a good filtering is necessary.
The irrigation of greenhouse crops is one of the most critical of all production practices. And yet it is frequently overlooked and taken for granted. To provide conditions for optimum plant growth it is essential to become familiar with the factors that influence soil moisture.
Irrigation Systems for Commercial Production
In most cases, water is applied to the upper surface of the media. This water may be applied by means of an overhead sprinkler, a drip or trickle irrigation system, by hand using a hose or similar device, or some combination of these delivery systems. Overhead sprinklers and hand watering have a tendency to “waste” water and also wet the foliage, which increases the potential for diseases and injury. Drip or trickle systems are the most efficient and provide greater control over the amount of water applied. Also, since the foliage does not become wet there is a reduced potential for diseases and injury.
Water may also be applied to greenhouse crops using subirrigation or capillary mats. However, in areas where soluble salts are a problem, mats do not provide for leaching, thereby increasing the risk of salt injury.
By far the most commonly used type of irrigation in Texas is the drip or trickle system. Several types of emitters are available commercially which provide a wide range of capacities. The most common are generally in the 1-3 gallon/minute range.
Frequency of Irrigation
Frequency of irrigation is largely determined by existing environmental conditions. During the months of March -September most Texas growers must irrigate their crops at least once a day and often two to three times. This frequency of irrigation means that growers must consider the physical characteristics of their growing media (i.e. water holding capacity and drainage) very carefully. Particularly where soluble salts are a problem. Often nutritional problems, such as magnesium and micronutrient deficiencies, arise as the result of excess leaching. In these cases special attention must be given to media amendments and nutritional regimes to provide for optimum plant growth.
Amount of Irrigation Water to Apply
The amount of irrigation water to apply is perhaps more important than how and when to irrigate. A general rule of thumb to follow in irrigating greenhouse crops is to apply 10- 15% more water than the container will hold. This facilitates leaching at each irrigation and reduces the potential for the accumulation of soluble salts. Of course the rate of irrigation must be low enough to allow the water to percolate through the growing media as opposed to over flowing the top of the container. When using soluble fertilizers in the irrigation water it is especially important to allow at least 10-15% for leaching to avoid salt build ups.
Condition of the Growing Media
The condition of the growing media is very important in determining irrigation efficiency. Most of the peat moss, bark and other organic constituents used in soilless growing media have hydrophobic or water repelling characteristics. When excessively dry, these materials have a tendency to be difficult to “wet” and therefore require careful attention during irrigation. In some cases a “wetting agent” may be required to provide adequate absorption. The key to avoiding problems associated with wetting is not to pot plants in excessively dry media or allow media to dry out between irrigations. Again, these problems may become more acute in the presence of soluble salts.
Porosity and Water Holding Capacity
Porosity and water holding capacity of the growing media is another factor which influences irrigation practices. Optimum combinations of these two characteristics provides enough large pores to allow for adequate leaching and aeration as well as a water holding capacity which minimizes irrigation frequency. Another consideration in this area are root diseases associated with wet, poorly drained media. Therefore it is important to maintain moisture levels which are not conducive to root diseases.
Water quality largely influences irrigation practices. As previously mentioned, the presence of soluble salts requires that growing media be well drained and that at least 10-15% more water than the container will hold be applied at each irrigation. It is also advisable to reduce the wetting and drying of the media between irrigations to avoid increases in relative concentrations of soluble salts. Be sure to have your water quality tested on a regular basis to monitor these conditions.
Irrigating greenhouse crops is a critical production practice and should not be taken for granted. Most greenhouse crops in Texas are irrigated by means of a drip or trickle system. The frequency of irrigation is largely determined by existing environmental conditions as well as the physical properties of the growing media. In areas where soluble salts are a problem it is important to apply at lest 10-15% more water than the container will hold to provide adequate leaching. Media which is extremely dry may be difficult to “wet” and care must be taken during irrigation to insure thorough water distribution. Water quality should be checked on a regular basis to monitor soluble salts.
Greenhouse irrigation system types
An irrigation system is very important for a greenhouse. The high temperatures can dry the soil very fast and so plants don’t get the proper amount of water. The irrigation system can be found in basic types of more complex designs.
Watering can irrigation
The simplest irrigation method is watering with a hand held watering can. Even if this method proves to be efficient, it is impractical for large greenhouses and can be very time consuming and labor intensive. This method should be used for small greenhouses only.
This is one of the cheapest irrigation methods and implies using a hose to water the plants. The disadvantage with this method is that the water doesn’t reach the roots and soil around of plant in many cases and so, the leaves get most of the moisture, which less healthy for the plants. This method should be used for small greenhouses only.
Misting irrigation system
The misting irrigation system provides water to the plants from above. This system releases small drops of water at specific times. It is usually used in commercial greenhouses. The system has a few disadvantages like clogging nozzles and inefficiency due to hot temperatures and dryness.
Seep hose irrigation system
The seep hose irrigation system releases water through thousands of tiny holes. The system is usually buried 2-3 inches into the soil. It is very efficient in terms of water saving, because it doesn’t waste it through evaporation. Because the water doesn’t come in contact with the rest of the plant expect the roots, the plants are less susceptible to disease.
You will need to choose the irrigation system type, depending on the size of the greenhouse and depending on the plants that grow in it. You can use simpler irrigation methods for home greenhouses but more complex, automated systems are required for commercial businesses.
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By Greenhouse Grower Staff|June 19, 2008
What are the general rules of watering?
There are three main rules of watering.
– Use a well-drained substrate. When the root substrate is drained and aerated, proper watering can be achieved, giving the plant desirable texture and structure.
– Water thoroughly each time. It is important to water all of the substrate each time the water is applied so that the water reaches the roots and produces a healthy plant.
– Water before moisture stress occurs. You should water just before moisture stress occurs. The result is a properly aerated system as well as healthy root development.
What types of watering systems are there?
There are several methods and ways to water plants. Generally they fall into the following categories: hand watering, sprinklers and mini-sprinklers, booms, sub-irrigation and drip. There are both closed and open systems.
What is a closed system?
A closed irrigation system is any method for growing plants in which the nutrient solution is recirculated. Nutrients are not allowed to leach into the ground.
What is an open system?
An open irrigation system is any system for growing plants in which nutrient solution is allowed to pass through the root zone and out into the environment.
Why is hand watering not economical?
Hand watering is considered uneconomical because it is labor inefficient, and automated systems are relatively inexpensive. Further, this task is often left to the least skilled laborers, and the economic impact of careless watering on the quality of the plants can quickly be re-paid by most automated systems.
What are the different watering systems for cut flowers?
The different types of fresh-flower watering systems are perimeter watering and thin wall dripperline, often called tapes. Perimeter watering is a plastic pipe around the perimeter of a bench with nozzles that spray water over the substrate surface below the foliage. The thin wall dripperline system is popular because long lengths of bench can be handled from a single header, and the humidity of the canopy is reduced, decreasing the incidence of disease. They are both typically open systems. Bag culture of cut flowers is usually watered by drippers or spray stakes.
What types of containerized-plant watering systems can be used in a greenhouse?
Containerized-plant watering systems include drip, overhead sprinklers, boom watering, flood and float systems and pulse watering.
How does drip watering work?
Drip watering is a standard open system used when automatically watering potted plants. The water is carried to each pot by a thin tube available in various sizes. The most modern systems utilize a dripper, or even a pressure compensating dripper to assure each plant receives the same amount of water. It is quite possible, in a well-designed system, to achieve uniformities of 95 percent.
What does overhead sprinkling do?
Overhead sprinklers are used mainly for crops that tolerate wet foliage. Pipes are installed above the plants and nozzles with varying spray ranges are installed to cover all plants. The best measure of a sprinkler system is a mathematical evaluation called Distribution Uniformity (DU). For crops highly dependent on uniform watering, like plugs, a DU of 85 percent or better should be used. For less critical applications, like woody ornamentals in large containers, a DU of 75 to 80 percent can be acceptable.
Should I use boom watering?
Boom watering can function as either a closed or an open system that is used for producing seedlings grown in plug trays. This enables each seedling to grow in an individual cell when watering precision is extremely important. The boom extends from one side of the greenhouse bay to the other, propelled by an electric motor.
What is mat watering?
The mat watering system is a closed system. Potted plants are planed on a constantly moist mat that soaks up the nutrients through capillaries. All pots may be placed on a mat and no adjustment is needed when changing pot size.
How does a basic flood system operate?
A flood system pumps water or fertilizer into a bench, trough or floor long enough to reach the plant capillaries. The water/fertilizer is then drained and the whole process is repeated after a given amount of time.
How do I grow crops using a float system?
In a float system, seedlings are grown on trays that float on a nutrient solution. After a determined amount of time, fertilizer is added until seeds form. The seeds then float on the solution in the trays and water is added when needed, allowing the crops to grow.
What are the benefits of pulse watering?
Pulse watering is an open system that is used in order to save water from being over-consumed. Water or fertilizer is applied several times during a drying cycle instead of just once at the end of the cycle. However, less fertilizer is applied each time so the concentration is lower.
When should water be tested?
The chemical balance in the water is crucial to the survival of the plant in the greenhouse. Anytime a new water source is established, it should be tested. During the first two years, you should test the water at least twice a year. It is best to test during a dry period and a wet period. After you have established a water quality pattern, the water needs to be tested every couple years.
How do I conduct a soluble-salt test?
The soluble-salt test measures all electrically charged ions dissolved in water. The higher the salt content, the more electrical currents are flowing through the sample. Excessively high salt levels make the uptake of water and essential nutrients more difficult for plants, resulting in water stress, and chemical deficiencies and toxicities.
What is alkalinity?
Alkalinity is a measure of carbonate amounts plus bicarbonate in water. Applying alkaline water is similar to applying limestone. An excessive alkalinity level results in an unacceptable rise in the pH of the substrate, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
What does hardness measure?
Hardness is a measure of the calcium and magnesium content in water. These two elements should be balanced to prevent calcium or magnesium deficiencies. When there is high alkalinity in water, a hardness test should be done.
For more Helpful Hints and other NGMA publications, contact the organization at www.ngma.com or call 303-798-1338.
The Simple Guide to Greenhouse Irrigation
Watering is essential for the healthy growth of plants and garden life. When plants are grown in a Greenhouse or polytunnel, access to natural water sources is restricted, making the plants completely dependent on you for hydration.
Plants can also suffer or even die from overwatering, so the correct amount of water is essential. This will change depending on the season and type of plant, so close attention is required, regardless of which system you use.
What Watering Methods Are Available?
There are a wide range of systems that can be used in a greenhouse or polytunnel, including:
Each of these methods of irrigation has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, these will certainly influence the method you decide to use.
What Watering System Is Right for My Greenhouse?
Every greenhouse will require a watering system, but the type and size required can depend on a few factors including the size of your greenhouse, the number of plants and the type of plants you’re growing. We have put together a guide below that details some of the features of each system.
Sprinklers/Overhead Spray Systems
Best for: big greenhouses and plants that tolerate wet foliage
Sprinkler systems also raise the moisture levels of unplanted areas, making them great for preparing the unused sections of your greenhouse for planting.
Misting and Spray System
Best for: big greenhouses and for propagating seedlings
Along with sprinklers these are the best choice for a greenhouse with a lot of seeds that require regular watering. Misting systems spray a very fine amount of water onto the soil which gradually hydrates and moistens it without disturbing it. These are also often automatic, making the process of watering all of your seedlings seem effortless.
Micro-drop/dripping/seep hose systems
Best for: Completely scalable to any size, good for all purposes
Drip irrigation systems release water at set intervals throughout the day and can be set up mounted on the surface or buried within the soil. These systems release slow drips of water over time so plants do not dry out, this also minimises water waste from the run off of heavy watering.
These systems require water pressure, so are often combined with a solar powered pump from a water butt and can be completely automated. These systems are useful for greenhouses of any size, as they can be scaled perfectly up or down.
Best for: smaller greenhouses and beginner or novice growers
Seed capillary mats (also called self-watering trays) are one of the most effective, quick and low maintenance methods of keeping plants hydrated. The mats work by absorbing water, often from a reservoir which makes the mats wet. The plants are then placed on this and have access to water as and when they need it. This also forces plants to grow deeper roots, as their source of water is from below them.
Capillary matting also creates a humid atmosphere, which promotes some plant growth and saves water. As long as there is water in your reservoir, all of the plants under the mat will stay hydrated. Topping up reservoirs is normally done weekly, making this one of the lowest maintenance options available which makes it perfect for amateur growers.
Common Extras for Irrigation Systems
Automated irrigation systems:
These methods are like misting or dripping systems, but they are completed automated so you don’t have to turn anything on or off. They work on a timer and provide your plants with the same amount of water every so often, depending on your requirements. This lends itself well to large projects, where manual watering may be too time-consuming.
Solar powered irrigation systems:
Solar powered irrigation systems are the eco-friendly future of gardening and they require no water, mains or electricity supply. This makes them completely self-sufficient and perfect for your smaller greenhouses. They are often in the form of drip irrigation, connected to a water butt (or any other non-pressurised water source) that sucks through water at regular intervals throughout the day.
Picking the right watering system for your greenhouse is key and there is always a solution out there that will suit your needs. Be realistic about the size of your greenhouse, the plants you can grow and how much you can afford to invest into an irrigation system and you will end up with a successful crop year on year.
We offer a range of hand-built Victorian design timber greenhouses, all finished to exceptionally high standards. If you are looking for a storage space for your tools and equipment, then our wider range of Garden Sheds may be the option for you. For a heavier duty shed, with more customisation options, you should consider our Superior Shed.
If you are unsure about what works best for you, whether it be for a greenhouse or one of our range of Garden Buildings, the best thing for you to do is speak to a member of the team. For instance, if you were to visit one of our seven UK Show Centres, you would be able to not only get first-hand guidance from the team, you would also be able to see our full bespoke collection.
Alternatively, if you would prefer to discuss your requirements with someone directly, please contact us and one of our team will be more than happy to talk through the options available.
The Ins & Outs of Greenhouse Irrigation
Greenhouse-grown plants (and any plants, for that matter) cannot survive without some form of irrigation. While there are different types of greenhouse irrigation systems available – including sprinkler and subsurface systems – we use a drip irrigation system because of its efficiency and accuracy. Let’s take a closer look at how our drip irrigation system works and what informs our crop irrigation strategy!
What Is Irrigation?
But first, what is irrigation and why is it important?
Irrigation is an agricultural process that applies water to crops at optimal intervals and quantities. When plants are irrigated with water, they are given one of the essential elements needed for the process of photosynthesis to occur.
Photosynthesis is a process in which plants create their own food. For a plant to complete the photosynthesis process, it needs a combination of different factors, including light, carbon dioxide (CO2), and water. When these elements enter a plant, light will activate reactions in structures inside the plant cell called chloroplasts, and the result will be energy for the plant in the form of glucose. At this time, oxygen will also be released to the atmosphere for us to breathe!
Water is an essential part of the photosynthesis process. This is why it is so important for a greenhouse operation to establish a strong irrigation strategy that delivers the optimal amount of water to its crop at the right times and in the proper volumes.
What is Drip Irrigation?
Drip irrigation is exactly what it sounds like – irrigation administered to a crop through dripper technology. Every plant gets its own dripper tube, which is typically placed in the back corner of the substrate block in which our plants sit. It is also important to ensure the dripper is not pushed in too deep to the block – this makes it easier for the plant’s roots to access the nutrient water.
Drip irrigation is an efficient way to irrigate greenhouse crops – the placement of our dripper tubes makes it easy for our Growers to deliver precise volumes of nutrient water directly to the root systems of our plants.
Our drip irrigation process uses a pressure compensated drip tube system that releases a specified volume of water once x amount of water pressure is applied to the dripper’s release valve. This allows for water and nutrients to be evenly distributed across our entire crop.
With greater efficiency and precision than other irrigation systems, establishing a drip irrigation strategy made the most sense for us – after all, as a commercial-sized greenhouse operation, we have hundreds of thousands of plants to irrigate every single day!
The Greenhouse Irrigation Strategy
When determining an irrigation strategy, our Growers have many factors to consider, including seasonal temperatures, light levels, crop development stages, and drydown levels.
When temperatures fluctuate at different times of the year, it has a strong effect on our irrigation strategy. In the summer months, when temperatures run very high and are more difficult to control internally, we generally need to irrigate our plants more often because they consume higher volumes of water. In contrast, we don’t irrigate our plants as much during the winter months because internal temperatures are easier to maintain in the winter, and the plants generally don’t consume as much water.
Seasonal Light Levels
Just as temperature informs irrigation needs, so do light levels – the more sunlight shining on our plants, the more they generally need to be irrigated. This means that, when the sun stays out for a longer period during the summer, our plants need more water, and when days are shorter during the winter months, we don’t need to irrigate our plants as often.
Remember the process of photosynthesis – light is what activates a plant’s energy creation process, so more light means a plant will start working harder to grow leaves and fruit (which means more elements like water and CO2 are needed if a plant is going to successfully create glucose to feed itself).
A crop’s needs also shift as it goes through different maturation stages, which means our irrigation strategy needs to shift with it! It is up to our Growers to monitor our crop’s development so that the necessary changes can be made to the irrigation strategy based on the crop’s maturation status.
Drydown refers to how much a substrate (which, in our case, is coconut fiber) has dried out. Drydown levels help inform our day-to-day irrigation strategy. If the coconut fiber block has dried out, it will weigh less and will likely require irrigation – but if the coconut fiber slab is still full of moisture, it will weigh more and likely not be irrigated right away. To calculate drydown levels, our Growers use a grow scale that weighs the plant base.
Once a strategy has been developed, our Growers use PRIVA to make changes to our irrigation settings. Our Growers can either update the system at PRIVA terminals stationed throughout our facilities, or on their work station computers or smartphones.
Running Water: Where Water Travels in a Greenhouse
From the moment we pump clean municipal water into our greenhouses, our irrigation water begins an exciting journey!
Inside every greenhouse facility, there are three large water storage tanks – these contain clean water, untreated water, and treated water. When we pump clean municipal water into our greenhouses, that water is stored in the clean water tank.
We use a closed-loop irrigation system, which means that excess water that our plants don’t take up through their root systems is collected, tested, cleaned, and sent back out to the plants. When we collect this excess water, it is stored in the untreated water storage tank until it is ready to be tested, cleaned, and sent back out to our plants. Once it has been treated, it is stored in the treated water storage tank until it is time to irrigate.
Mixing in Nutrients
We make sure our plants get the proper amount of nutrients they need by mixing variety-specific, nutrient-rich fertilizers in large mixing tanks.
Every plant variety requires a specific amount of different nutrients for optimal growth. However, almost all fertilizer recipes include nutrients like magnesium, iron, nitrogen, potassium, and calcium.
When it is time to irrigate our plants, a mechanism called an injector takes a specific volume of clean water from the clean water tank, a specific volume of treated water from the treated water tank, and a specific amount of the fertilizer recipe from the mixing tanks and blends all three of these solutions together. The final nutrient water mixture is then pumped out to our plants in the greenhouse!
Water Distribution & Collection
When the nutrient water is distributed to our crops, it is fed directly to each plant’s root system through drip irrigation tubes.
Even though every plant is fed the proper amount of nutrient water, it’s very easy for water to build up in a growing medium and potentially cause root damage – unless the excess water is drained away. For this reason, we chose to use coconut fiber as our growing medium because it drains excess water well, keeping our plants’ roots healthy!
Underneath every plant row we have installed gutters that collect excess nutrient water. Our gutters are installed on a slight slant, allowing drainage water to be gravity fed into a collection basin at the lowest point of the greenhouse. From here, drainage water gets pumped into our untreated water storage tank until it gets cleaned and added to the treated water supply.
Our closed-loop irrigation system allows us to irrigate efficiently, accurately, and sustainably!
Fun Facts on Greenhouse Irrigation
Did you know?
Depending on if a plant is generative or vegetative, the irrigation strategy changes. A generative plant grows more fruit than vegetation, whereas a vegetative plant grows more vegetation and less fruit.
The optimal temperature range we like to keep our nutrient water at is somewhere between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius. It’s important to pay attention to nutrient water temperature because if you feed a plant water that is too cold, it can shock the root system, and if you feed it water that is too warm, it can lead to the development of certain root diseases.
We send samples of our nutrient water to a laboratory for testing on a regular basis to ensure we are feeding our plants the best food possible!
Water for the Win!
With a sustainable and efficient irrigation strategy in place, we keep our plants happy and healthy every single day! But as NatureFresh™ Farms continues to expand our operations, revising and improving upon our existing irrigation strategy will be an important part of our continued growth and expansion.