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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Virtual Grower 2.0

Authors
item Frantz, Jonathan
item Hand, Bryon
item Runkle, Erik - MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
item Blanchard, Matthew - MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: CD ROM
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: February 22, 2008
Publication Date: February 23, 2008
Citation: Frantz, J., Hand, B.A., Runkle, E., Blanchard, M. 2008. Virtual Grower 2.0. CD ROM. [computer program] http://www.ars.usda.gov/services/software/download.htm?softwareid=108

Interpretive Summary: Virtual Grower 1.0 is freely available software that helps greenhouse growers manage their facilities for improved energy efficiency during production. Since its release in January, 2006, we have received suggestions on how to improve the software including adding photographic examples of systems, developing a way to estimate leakage into the greenhouse systems, estimate overall heating efficiency, and additional options for energy curtains. Virtual Grower 2.0 has used that feedback from the industry to improve on the existing features and add more functionality. For example, a plant growth component was added that calculates time to flowering for seven floriculture crops and crop size for lettuce based on the greenhouse settings. The introduction of plant growth to Virtual Grower allows users to optimize their production systems for a few floriculture crops with regards to energy, heating costs, crop timing, and crop size.

Technical Abstract: Greenhouses are complex systems. One management decision invariably influences another in often unexpected or unforeseen ways. As seasons change, management practices may shift from optimizing production for plant quality or “yield” to efficiency and reduced energy costs. These decisions impact the performance of plants, likelihood of disease outbreaks, and labor. Virtual Grower 1.0 is software that helps take some of the guesswork out of greenhouse management generally, and help guide producers into saving energy and money. Since its release in January, 2006, we have received feedback from the industry on how to improve the software including adding photographic examples of systems, developing a way to estimate air infiltration and heating efficiency, and additional options for energy curtains. Virtual Grower 2.0 has improved the existing features based on industry suggestions, and added plant growth to calculate time to flowering for seven floriculture crops and crop size for these crop as well as a commonly grown greenhouse vegetable. The introduction of plant growth to Virtual Grower is the initial step in bringing together simple, yet powerful, crop growth models and greenhouse “energy balance” calculators, and allows for interactions among crop growth and development models with greenhouse heating models. Users will now be able to optimize their production systems for a few floriculture crops with regards to energy, heating costs, crop timing, and crop size.

Last Modified: 8/21/2014
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