The Grower and The Economist podcast hosts, Michelle and Peter, were joined by
Yannis Lempidakis of Sun Master Films to talk about technology advancements in greenhouse films. Glass covers were used until the early 60's and have been advancing ever since. You may reminisce with Peter on times when construction grade plastic films only lasted one year before disintegrating from sun exposure. They have evolved to last 2 - 3 years and are now at around 4 - 5 years until condensation starts accumulating again. Sun Master Films is challenging the greenhouse grower to think of the film as a tool rather than just a protective cover.
Giannis explains the problem of
condensation in a greenhouse from excess moisture to increased diseases to causing a mirror effect leading to burn damage. Anti-condensation and anti-fog features of a greenhouse film were developed in the 80's by adding polymers to the thin layers of a cover. Other features now include thermicity (the measure of infrared transmission through the film), UV stabilization, sulfur resistance, and light diffusion.
In this week's episode, we learn how Sun Master Films extended the anti-condensation effect to remain active for the lifetime of the film. This is a huge win for greenhouse growers as it allows more light to enter the greenhouse, since condensation reflects the light away from the crop level. Giannis and Peter make it clear that even with supplemental LED lighting, condensation has a negative impact on plants.
Our conversation highlights the many benefits of plastic film, such as reduced energy and labor costs, reduced pesticide usage, increased crop yields, and creating a better and healthier environment for the plants. The recommended film may depend on type of crop, location, and desired outcome.
Greenhouse covers have come a long way from glass to short-lived polyethylene to spraying liquid product on the inside of the plastic to nanomaterial advancements. The industry is growing fast in regulations and inherent demand. It's a great time to re-think the function of each greenhouse structure component and improve productivity!
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