Greenhouse Ventilation

Good temperature control is vital for a productive high tunnel greenhouse, and this in turn means that the ventilation system needs to be effective and efficient. Regardless of whether a grower uses fans or “natural ventilation,” it is important to make sure that the system is designed properly and working well. Here are a few pointers that will help you improve your system.

Natural Ventilation

The concept of cooling a greenhouse with thermal buoyancy and wind goes back to the …

Machinery Maintenance for Energy Efficiency

The operating condition of tractors and other farm machinery can affect the fuel efficiency of those machines; therefore, maintenance is crucial for energy and financial savings.

Tractors and self-propelled equipment

Tractor engines and engines in self-propelled equipment should be maintained in good condition. It is possible for a tractor to be operating below peak performance without noticeably affecting field performance. Preventive maintenance and scheduled tune-ups are recommended to insure that the engine operates efficiently. Follow the recommendations in the operator’s …

Wood Heat for Greenhouses

Outdoor wood boilers are increasingly subject to state and local and regulations aimed at minimizing air pollution. Photo courtesy of Vern Grubinger



Wood is an attractive alternative fuel for greenhouse heating – it is renewable, locally produced, and usually less expensive than other fuels. While wood is not for everyone, an increasing number of growers are turning to it as an economical heating alternative for their facilities. Fuel wood, waste wood and biomass are all potential sources of heat …

Farm Energy Efficiency Checklist and Tips

Farm energy
Photo: Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension

Efficient use of energy becomes increasingly important with rising energy costs. Energy efficiency is determined by comparing what is actually produced or performed to what could be produced or performed with the same consumption of energy resources.

Although many changes to improve energy efficiency can usually be implemented immediately on a farm, long term efficiency gains come with planning when new or replacement equipment is purchased or new structures are built.

Reducing the …

Fuels and Alternate Heat Sources for Commercial Greenhouses

corn boiler
Corn furnace with fuel. Photo by Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension, Creative Commons

Which fuel is best for heating a greenhouse? The right answer depends on price, convenience, and availability. Some fuels have more “heat per dollar” and some heating units have a greater efficiency. Others are especially easy to use. All of these factors need to be considered when deciding what fuel to use. The most common fuels for greenhouse heating are natural gas, propane, and fuel oil, …

Introduction to Energy-Efficient Tractor and Field Operations

Table of Contents

Photo: Vern Grubinger.


Tractors and related field equipment can use a lot of energy on the farm, so it makes sense to take practical steps to optimize their efficiency. These include:

Greenhouse Efficiency and Conservation Case Studies

Case studies of greenhouse growers and other farmers using alternative energy for heating in greenhouses and running equipment have been posted by UVM Extension at: On-Farm Energy Case Studies.

The case studies describe systems that use biodiesel, coal, log wood, shell corn, waste vegetable oil, waste wood chips,and wood pellets to heat greenhouses.

In addition, there are links to case studies of on-farm biodiesel production.



image:Wood_boiler_and_greenhouses.JPG image:Greenhouse_corn__boiler.JPG



Reducing Tillage to Save Fuel


Tillage operations are generally conducted to prepare a seedbed, incorporate fertilizers, and cultivate for weed control. The number of trips required to perform these operations depends on soil type and condition, the crop, weather conditions, and the type of tillage system utilized. Excessive tillage operations increase fuel consumption, operating costs, machinery wear, and time and labor requirements. Too much tillage also increases soil compaction and releases carbon into the atmosphere.

Reducing the number of field operations

Farmers can reduce …

Insulation Know-How

With volatile energy costs, a good return on investment may be obtained by adding insulation to homes, offices, farm shops and other heated buildings such as greenhouse headhouses or boiler rooms. Insulation can provide benefits in winter by keeping expensive heat in and in summer by keeping unwanted heat out.

Although all building materials have some insulation value, the term “insulation” usually refers to materials with a relatively high resistance to heat flow that are designed specifically for that purpose. …

Horizontal Air Flow is Best for Greenhouse Air Circulation

Before Horizontal Air Flow (HAF) systems were developed, it was common to find 10°F to 15°F difference in nighttime temperature between the opposite ends of a greenhouse. Plant growth and quality often reflected this unevenness. Today with a properly installed HAF system, there should be no more than 2°F difference anywhere in the greenhouse.

Understanding the basics

Horizontal air flow fans maintain good air circulation in this greenhouse full of vegetable seedlings. The first fan should be placed about 10′