Tracking transpiration is the key to saving energy

By |2023-04-16T12:08:43+00:00April 11th, 2023|Articles, Blog|

Written by: Mr. Peter Klapwijk, Green Architect and Connector with a vast growing history.


Creating an optimal growing climate in a greenhouse requires energy.

With energy prices on the rise, this is a significant expense for greenhouse operations. There are many options for minimizing the amount you spend on energy, such as installing solar panels or windmills.

However, if you want to reduce the amount of energy you use in your greenhouse, the real secret is to track plant transpiration.

Tracking transpiration is the key to saving energy

What is transpiration?

Transpiration is a necessary process in plants’ metabolisms that ensures growth. Water absorbed by plants travels through stems and leaves and then evaporates through pores on leaf surfaces. When plants transpire, their pores open allowing for the diffusion of carbon dioxide gas for photosynthesis. Transpiration also changes the osmotic pressure in cells, enabling the flow of mineral nutrients through the shoots.

Plants need to transpire to thrive. Adequate transpiration leads to optimal growth. Plants that transpire sufficiently are more generative, and have smaller leaves, stronger stems, and bigger fruits.

What does transpiration have to do with energy consumption? Plants transpire best when in an active dry climate. How much of the energy used in your greenhouse goes to creating optimal conditions for growth?

Greenhouse energy consumption

Greenhouse energy consumption

Your greenhouse is all about providing plants with optimal growth conditions. Let’s look at power consumption for creating your environment.

  • Artificial light: Plants need light for photosynthesis. This light is converted into energy that is used to grow, bloom, and create seeds. In northern climates with less light in the winter season, greenhouses can use about 1 megawatt per hectare per house on artificial light.
  • Heating: Tomato, cucumber, and bell pepper plants thrive best around 20 degrees Celsius. If your climate is generally cooler than this, heating is required. However, heating is not just for increasing temperatures. Heating is also used to dehumidify the greenhouse because high humidity can reduce growth. Greenhouses can use about 300,000-500,000 cubic meters of gas per hectare per year for heating.
  • Irrigation: Irrigation systems often rely on electric pumps to distribute water throughout the greenhouse.
  • Automatization: Anything automated, from trollies, sensors, or other equipment uses energy. These automated systems are hugely important to reduce labor and improve plant production.

While there are many options for reducing the power used for any of these processes, we’re going to focus on the one that uses the most energy: heating. Heating greenhouses has two purposes: the first is to keep plants warm. The second is the reduce the humidity to ensure plants transpire sufficiently. Plants transpire less in humid environments, meaning that heating is an important element to ensure your plants absorb nutrients and photosynthesize as required. Read on to learn how you can reduce the amount of energy invested in heating while ensuring your plants are transpiring sufficiently.

The circular economy and your greenhouse

An energy-saving heating strategy

If your heating strategy is based only on the temperature of your greenhouse, then you might not be very energy efficient. You could save energy by basing your heating strategy on transpiration, air ventilation, and airflow. In this strategy, you’ll focus on plant temperature rather than air temperature. Plant temperature is generally 1-2 degrees cooler than air temperature if your plants are transpiring adequately. You can test plant temperature with infrared equipment or other instruments specifically for this purpose.

Based on your plant temperature and transpiration speed, you can decide how much heating is needed in your greenhouse. Before you turn up the gas for heating, try using ventilation to optimize growth with less energy.

For example, mounting a thermal screen on top of your greenhouse is a very efficient way to warm your plants. Acting as a blanket, thermal screens keep warmth inside and isolate the greenhouse by 40%. Adding a second screen or even a third screen provides even more isolation, reducing the need to use energy for additional heating.

To keep plants transpiring with thermal screens, you can keep the windows open in your greenhouse even when the thermal screens are closed. Plants mostly transpire during the day when there is less of a need for heating. Open windows improve ventilation and reduce humidity naturally. Close the windows at night, when plants are less likely to transpire, to keep the greenhouse warm under a thermal screen.

Closed thermal screens increase plant temperature, meaning you’ll be able to set a lower temperature in your greenhouse. You can measure the plant temperature with special tools, which will be a profitable investment when they help you efficiently manage your greenhouse’s climate.

Other options for energy-efficient heating include using solar panels or wind turbines to create your own energy.

Greenhouse energy consumption

How energy efficient is your greenhouse?

Once you’ve developed a heating strategy, you’ll want to test how efficient it is. You can do this by creating benchmarks. First, check how much energy you were using before you implemented your new strategy. Are you using less energy now?

Next, you should benchmark your energy usage against other greenhouses in your climate. How much energy are you consuming compared to them? If you’re consuming more, you might be able to improve further. If you’re using less, great job!

It’s important to note that no matter how efficient your greenhouse is, you still need to use energy to sustain your crops. The most expensive cubic meters of gas are the ones you unnecessarily avoid using. Don’t cut corners with energy usage! If you need to turn on the gas to warm your crops, do it so your plants don’t suffer.

If you’re interested in learning more about Paskal’s range of products and how they can help you benefit from joining the circular economy, contact us today.


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Why the Circular Economy Matters For Your Greenhouse

By |2023-02-27T15:28:09+00:00February 27th, 2023|Articles, Blog|

The classic value chain shows resources flowing in one direction. Raw materials are created and sold to manufacturers, who then sell to retailers and finally to customers who use and then dispose of products. Not only is this value chain unsustainable with the amount of waste created, but it also negatively impacts the environment and our health.

Circular Economy Matters For Your Greenhouse

In 2021, it is estimated that only 5%-6% of used plastic was recycled. In the U.S. alone, about 38 million tons of plastic went to landfills. Generating this amount of trash annually desecrates the earth and leads to further pollution as more and more plastic is manufactured.

Today, many organizations are joining the circular economy, which modifies the classic value chain to reduce waste and conserve resources. For horticulturalists and growers, joining the circular economy is imperative. Read on to learn what you need to know for the sake of your greenhouse.

What is the circular economy?

The circular economy is all about improving sustainability – reducing waste, emissions, and resources, saving energy, and more.

In the circular economy, customers reuse and recycle products. Some products can be used for a longer lifecycle or repurposed for other uses, while others can be recycled as raw material for other products. Circular economy organizations also focus on precision, meaning using the least amount of water, fertilizer, and energy required for optimal yield.

Products may also be made lighter-weight and packaged in recycled materials. The circular economy also includes using more efficient transportation, such as combining products into single deliveries.

By joining the circular economy, businesses and consumers can contribute to a more sustainable future, protect the earth, and improve their business.

The circular economy and your greenhouse

The circular economy and your greenhouse

Horticulture and agriculture are two of the most important industries for the circular economy. Agriculture itself has major impacts on the environment by creating greenhouse gas emissions, high water usage, and chemical pollution. These consequences, in turn, also negatively affect agricultural output. By focusing on sustainability in your greenhouse, not only can you reduce your environmental impact, but you can also improve your own operation.

Here are several reasons why joining the circular economy is important for your greenhouse.

Reduce waste

Agriculture ventures produce significant waste, including vines at the end of the season, unabsorbed water, and clips and accessories that aided in growth during the planting season. Instead of disposing of this waste, much of it can be reused, recycled, or repurposed to reduce the amount of waste created by your greenhouse.

Lower costs

There are many ways that the circular economy can help you lower your costs.

  1. Electricity: Set up your greenhouse to take advantage of natural light by cleaning glass and changing your opaque plastic film often and you can reduce the amount of energy you use in your greenhouse for heating and lighting.
  2. Labor: Using biodegradable products means spending less time removing plastic products at the end of the season. This saves significant time and labor costs.
  3. Inputs: Don’t waste products that can be collected and reused. This improves your efficiency and saves you from re-purchasing products.

Improve crop quality

Adopting sustainable practices in your greenhouse can even improve crop quality. For example, using organic waste for fertilizer instead of chemical fertilizer can significantly improve the quality of soil, making it riches for your crops.

Circularity in agriculture also requires rotating crops and even “intercropping” (planting multiple crops together), two practices that can lead to higher yield and better-quality crops.

How to join the circular economy

If you want your greenhouse to benefit from the circular economy, there are a few simple things you can do to get started.

  1. Implement closed-loop water systems: This will ensure that water does not leak or go to waste. Instead, water will be reused throughout your system, both reducing waste and saving money.
  2. Use LED lighting and intelligent temperature control: Rather than wasting energy on inefficient lighting or excessive heating, use smart products to ensure you minimize the amount of energy you need.
  3. Use biodegradable accessories: Whenever possible, use biodegradable products rather than plastic to reduce your waste.
  4. Be aware of plastics: If you’re using plastics, use lightweight products and be sure to deposit them at recycling plants after use.

circular economy | Alternatives to plastic

Alternatives to plastic

Plastic has been carefully developed to optimize mechanical properties and increase durability. This is great for customers, but also bad for the planet. Many greenhouse products and accessories are made of polyethylene &polypropylene plastics. Sometimes these materials are necessary. If you’re using plastic, be sure to collect and recycle them at the end of the season. For these purposes, Paskal has created many food-safe products that use minimal raw materials.

Paskal also offers many innovative biodegradable products from plastic alternative materials. Our biodegradable clips, arches, trusses, and twine have been engineered for strength and reliability while ensuring they meet the quality standards to support healthy plant growth and comply with EN13432. This means they are compostable and can be used to fertilize your plants next season.

If you’re interested in learning more about Paskal’s range of products and how they can help you benefit from joining the circular economy, contact us today.


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