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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The New Computer Program Virtual Grower Will Help in Greenhouse Management

Authors
item Frantz, Jonathan
item Locke, James
item Krause, Charles

Submitted to: World Wide Web
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: March 8, 2006
Publication Date: March 8, 2006
Repository URL: http://floriculture.osu.edu/archive/feb06/Virtual%20Grower.html
Citation: Frantz, J., Locke, J.C., Krause, C.R. 2006. The new computer program virtual grower will help in greenhouse management. Ohio Floriculture Online Volume 13; Issue 1. Available: http://floriculture.osu.edu/archive/feb06/Virtual%20Grower.html

Interpretive Summary: One management choice in a greenhouse invariably influences another in often unexpected or unforeseen ways. A new computer-based management tool was developed to allow users to simulate different management techniques in seconds and take out some of the guesswork of greenhouse management decisions. When completed, the program should help growers in the US estimate fuel costs for a growing season, see how changing fertilizer and watering affects the operation, schedule growth regulators, pesticides, and algaecides, manage labor, optimize for plant productivity, and help to determine pricing. Currently, users can choose their location in the US and calculate energy needs based on “typical” weather conditions for each hour during the year. The program allows for “construction” of a greenhouse or series of greenhouses that can match existing facilities. Even though the computer program is a work in progress, we feel that the program can be useful now to help make management decisions for heating and fuel conservation.

Technical Abstract: Greenhouses are complex systems. One management decision invariably influences another in often unexpected or unforeseen ways. Trial and error and “rules of thumb” are not a consistently profitable manner to make management decisions. A new computer-based management tool called Virtual Grower was developed to allow users to simulate different management techniques in seconds and take out some of the guesswork of greenhouse management decisions. When completed, the program should help growers in the US estimate fuel costs for a growing season, see how changing fertilizer and watering affects the operation, schedule growth regulators, pesticides, and algaecides, manage labor, optimize for plant productivity, and help to determine pricing. Currently, users can choose the state and closest city, which loads an historical database of weather information for the selected area and allows the program to calculate energy needs based on “typical” weather conditions for each hour during the year. The program allows for creation of a greenhouse or series of greenhouses that can match existing facilities. Once a greenhouse is built, the program allows you to input your fuel type, expense, and heating schedule including day night temperatures, thermoperiod, and date of activation. Even though the computer program is a work in progress, we feel that the program can be useful now to help make management decisions for heating and fuel conservation.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014
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