How can you improve your controlled environment climate control?

The GLASE Virtual Climate Control Short Course will provide participants with the information and tools necessary to better control the climate in their controlled environment operations to improve energy and labor efficiency, plant quality and yields.

by David Kuack

If there is one aspect of controlled environment production that affects every grower and every crop it’s climate control. Not being able to maintain the proper growing environment can cost growers in terms of wasted energy and labor and ultimately poor quality crops and reduced yields. To provide growers with a better understanding of climate control, GLASE is hosting the 2023 Virtual Climate Control Short Course from Jan. 19-Feb. 23.

This consecutive six-week course consists of six modules that will address critical aspects that are pertinent to delivering the climate necessary for successful controlled environment crop production.

Controlling environmental parameters in greenhouses and indoor farms, including light, temperature and humidity, will be the focus of the GLASE Climate Control Short Course. Photo courtesy of Wheatfield Gardens.

The modules include:

  1. Lighting Controls, Jan. 19.

Learn how supplemental lighting can assist in providing consistent, quality crops year-round. Find out what new lighting controls are available to increase energy-use efficiency and lower supplemental lighting costs.

  1. Temperature Controls, Jan. 26

Temperature is critical in its effects on growth rate, plant development and yields. Controlling the temperature also has a major impact on the efficient use of energy and energy costs. During this module learn how efficient temperature sensors and controls can improve crop production and reduce operational costs.

  1. Humidity Controls and Vapor Pressure Deficit, Feb. 2

Like temperature, maintaining the proper relative humidity and vapor pressure deficit (VPD) can affect plant transpiration, which influences growth rate and susceptibility to pests, pathogens and stress. This module will show how to measure and control humidity and VPD to better maintain plant growth and health.

  1. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Controls, Feb. 9

The benefits of supplemental carbon dioxide in controlled environment production are well documented, including improved flowering, fruit yields and more vigorous plants. This module will provide details on how to measure and control carbon dioxide concentrations to ensure plants are receiving adequate rates.

  1. Irrigation Controls, Feb. 16

Delivering the right amount of water when it is needed is vital to maximizing crop yields. Overwatering or underwatering can stress plants and make them more susceptible to pest and disease infestation. This module will discuss the different irrigation systems, sensing and control systems available to regulate the amount of water plants receive.

  1. Autonomous Controls, Feb. 23

Technology is available to precisely control all aspects of the controlled environment climate. This module will focus on how autonomous technologies are currently being used in commercial operations and the potential impact the integration of these technologies will have on future methods of crop production.

The Climate Control Short Course consists of six, two-hour modules that will address critical aspects that are pertinent to delivering the growing environment necessary for successful controlled environment crop production.

Why climate control?

After last year’s GLASE Virtual Plant Lighting Short Course, a grower survey was conducted to determine what topic should be addressed in the second short course.

“In addition to selecting a topic, we asked growers who they wanted the second short course targeted towards,” said Haley Holley, GLASE extension support specialist at Cornell University. “We wanted to know who on their staff would be participating in the short course. The highest response was they wanted their head growers and assistant growers to watch the modules. With the Climate Control Short Course we have made it more application-based than the first short course on plant lighting.

Neil Mattson, greenhouse horticulture professor at Cornell University and GLASE principal investigator, said this type of comprehensive climate control program hasn’t been offered before in the United States.

“Controlled environment climate control is an area where we have seen there is a real need in regards to offering an extensive, comprehensive program,” Mattson said. “This 12-hour short course is unlike anything that is being offered by the extension service or industry programs to the level that we want to cover climate control.

“This short course is also an independent program. The companies that install climate control systems offer training programs, but the focus is on how to operate their specific systems. With each short course module participants will learn about the principles behind climate control. We will also provide specific case studies to show how climate control systems can be used to solve issues related to light, temperature, relative humidity and other environmental parameters.”

GLASE officials solicited feedback from controlled environment growers who indicated there was a real need for a comprehensive educational program focused on climate control. Photo courtesy of A.J. Both, Rutgers Univ.

What to expect

Each of the six, two-hour modules will start with a 30-minute introduction of the topic and the science behind the topic.

The second presentation in each module will cover real-world case study applications. These case studies will show how the concepts presented in the topic introduction can actually be done in greenhouses and indoor farms with the equipment and systems commercially available.

The final module presentation will be either a live demonstration from a climate control company or a grower panel. With the demonstrations, participants will be able to see how to use the products to control the specific environmental parameter discussed in the module.

The first two presentations in each module will be prerecorded, but the speakers will be live for the last 30-minute session doing the demonstrations. Following the final presentation, there will be a live 30-minute Q&A session with all the speakers who participated in the module and the short course participants who are attending live.

Participant, sponsorship opportunities

The Climate Control Short Course is free to GLASE members. For nonmembers the admission charge is $100 and $50 for students.

“We would like to see short course company participants who are nonmembers become members for $200,” Holley said. “For an additional $100, a nonmember would be able to access all of the articles, tools and information on the GLASE website, including last year’s Plant Lighting Short Course and the future recordings of this year’s Climate Control Shore Course. Nonmembers will be able to watch the module recordings on-demand for four weeks after the end of the short course. GLASE members will have unlimited access to the recordings with an annual membership.

“If a nonmember joins GLASE after the Climate Control Short Course is in progress, they can still become a member and have access to the recordings of the sessions that they missed.”

For those companies interested in participating as a sponsor for the Climate Control Short Course, GLASE is offering three levels of sponsorship. These packages include a complimentary one-year company membership, registration for company members to participate in the Climate Control Short Course, a promotional video that will run between presentations in each module, and the appearance of a company logo and recognition in printed marketing materials. The promotional videos will be recorded so they can also be viewed on demand.

For more: Haley Holley, Cornell University;

David Kuack is a freelance technical writer in Fort Worth, Texas;