Energy Saved, Plant Health Earned
Eric Nelson always knew hydronic heating was more efficient. When he upgraded from forced air, he found additional benefits in plant health, as well.
PROFILE: Eric Nelson, owner, Neosho Gardens, Council Grove, KS.
MARKET: Neosho Gardens is a 100% wholesale greenhouse operation, providing bedding plants, flowering potted plants and greenhouse tomatoes to garden centers, landscapers and some grocery and department stores.
GROWING AREA: 350,000 square feet of greenhouse include retractable roof, poly quonset, and fiberglass, but most of Neosho Gardens’ structures are glass.
DELTA T SOLUTIONS HEATING PROFILE: About 6 acres of hydronic heating, including 5 acres of radiant, in-floor heating and tubes installed under benches
HISTORY: Neosho Gardens was established in 1980, with 26,000 square feet of quonset greenhouses. The operation’s growing area slowly grew to 350,000 square feet, culminating at that size about 3 years ago. Providing a number of different crop mixes, Neosho Gardens specializes in bedding plants, flowering potted plants, including poinsettias and mums, and more recently fresh tomatoes.
“We decided to branch out from poinsettias in the fall and winter market, and fresh, locally grown tomatoes are always in demand,” says owner Eric Nelson.
LOOKING FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY:
Neosho Gardens’ current in-floor heating systems are completely computer controlled and his greenhouses are outfitted with a number of heat-saving tools, including thermal curtains and, “all the bells and whistles,” Nelson says.
“Over the years since I started this business, I always knew hot water heat was better,” he says. “I started out with forced air and as I expanded, converted over to hydronic heating. It’s very efficient and results in better crops.”
Nelson adds he has experienced fewer problems since he installed hydronic heat, compared to his old forced air systems, because of the number of unit heaters that were necessary to keep the greenhouses warm.
“With hydronic, it's always warmer,” he says. “The systems don't break down and we have seen significant energy savings and overall cost savings. Our system did cost a lot of money up front but in the end, it pays off with better efficiency, using less btus than forced air.”
ADVICE FOR GROWERS:
Nelson advises growers looking into using hydronic heating systems to learn about the different types of hot water systems available, and the companies that provide them, which will in turn allow them to choose the right systems for their respective greenhouses.”
“Visit with other growers who have converted their operations to using hydronic heat, and ask how they have done it and how they've used energy differently,” Nelson says. “ I’ve got heating systems from all three of the major companies, figuring I’d give everybody a try. Do your homework on what different companies offer for in-floor systems. It makes a big difference in efficiency, compared to overhead hot water systems.”
For more information, visit www.neoshogardens.com.
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