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Solar Energy During Winter For Summer Crops

Alternative systems for heating greenhouses for growing vegetables and fresh herbs in the winter

 Alternative systems for heating greenhouses for growing vegetables and fresh herbs in the winter.

As a result of increasing fossil fuel prices and restrictions on emissions of CO2 and other pollutants, there is a need to find alternative systems for heating greenhouses for growing vegetables and fresh herbs in the winter. One possible alternative is the use of solar energy. Heating greenhouses during the night with solar energy requires a combination of several components based on the following principles: 1. absorption of the energy from the sun (during the day), 2. storing the energy and avoiding losses of energy to the surroundings and 3. using the energy at night.

Absorption of solar energy is increased by covering the soil with a transparent plastic sheet. The wetted soil has a capacity to store a large amount of heat energy. An additional method of absorbing and storing solar energy is by placing horizontal and vertical transparent PE (polyethylene) water tubes in the greenhouse tunnels (figs. 3 and 4). Using black PE to construct the water tubes allows for greater heat absorption than the commonly used transparent tubes.

21.03wetted soil
The orientation of the greenhouse can also increase the absorption of solar energy. A walk-in tunnel orientated east-west will absorb substantially more energy than a similar structure orientated north-south. Placement of the self-supported vertical water tubes on the north side as a “wall of water” increases energy absorption and storage therefore raising greenhouse night temperatures up to 16 C0 in Israel, depending on local radiation and climatic conditions.

Losses of energy to the surrounding is reduced by covering the greenhouse with a double layer of plastic sheets with IR blockage, with a gap of air between the sheets or by the use of thermal screens or insulation blankets. From sunset when there is no more accumulation of heat, the water tubes and the soil release heat energy in to the volume of the greenhouse.

Similar practical applications of these principles are used elsewhere in the world. In parts of China solar energy is stored in a thick wall made from mud or clay bricks. In Israel we have applied these principles in walk-in tunnels for the growing of basil. The combination of these components have allowed us to grow basil (a summer crop) in the winter, while increasing production, preventing plant diseases, and improving quality while reducing costs and emission of greenhouses gases.

Using horizontal water tubes is not a new method for it was tried years ago. Even though the horizontal tubes have some contribution to warming the greenhouse, they are located in the worst place in the greenhouse, the coldest and most shaded place, and they are exposed to mechanical damage. A unique solution of arranging the water tubes vertically  is a good and effective solution to the problems of the horizontal water tubes. They stand independently they are not supported by the greenhouse structure. They have a rigid frame made out of a metal sheet sleeve, or are supported by using a sleeve made from a metal wire mesh.

The vertical tubes are exposed to the sun and they are not in the way of the workers in the greenhouse. It is possible to store a much greater volume of water in the greenhouse to enable greater storing of heat energy. Positioning the vertical tubes correctly reduces shading problems winter and is suitable for multi-span greenhouses and north-south orientations in walk-in tunnels. 

The orientation of the walk- in tunnel has a major influence on the absorption of solar energy. The east- west orientation permits much more sun light to enter the greenhouse. In winter, when the sun is low, the sun beams hit the plastic covering of the north south orientated walk-in tunnel in a sharp angle. As a result part of the beam is reflected. The sun beams hitting the east- west orientation are almost at a right angle, which results in much more light entering into the tunnel, leading to higher yields.21.03figure 9

This knowledge gave way for the development and construction of the “Eden” greenhouse. The “Eden” greenhouse is oriented east – west and the vertical tubes are located on the north side. They form a “wall of water”. This location has an advantage that there is no shading on the crop and there is no physical disturbance to the workers. A relatively large amount of water can be kept in the walk in tunnel (8 m3 water in a 30 m length walk-in tunnel). The “wall of water” absorbs the solar energy during the relatively hot days and releases the heat during night, creating optimal temperatures for crop production.

The reason for using water in the tubes is the high specific heat of water compared to other materials. Water is available and will not contaminate the soil if the tubes are damaged. A thermal picture that was taken at night shows the heat stored in wall of water and the influence on plant temperature. The yield of the basil crop was winter significantly higher in walk-in tunnels equipped with a wall of water .

In conclusion, we developed a simple, sustainable, nonpolluting, no emissions system for growing summer crops in winter by raising the temperature using only solar energy. It is possible to grow basil crops in the winter in Israel by using: PE mulching, water tubes, thermal screens and double layers of PE covering material. The best results were achieved by using a wall of black PE water tubes standing on the north side of the east-west orientated tunnel. 21.03figure 10

Orientating the tunnel in an east-west direction has a considerable advantage over north-south orientated tunnels. This method made it possible to grow basil free of winter diseases without needing chemical spraying of fungicides. Depending on the climatic conditions there is a possibility of using only some of the aforementioned methods to produce high yields of excellent quality.

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Winter For Summer Crops




“The future of indoor and greenhouse vertical farming depends on physics for high quality production”

Affinor Growers has signed a commercialization agreement with Britespan Building Systems to engineer and manufacture new polycarbonate greenhouses co-designed by Affinor and Britespan.

Britespan currently designs, engineers, and manufactures prefabricated buildings in Canada and internationally. Affinor conceived the “Atlantis” greenhouse by adding a polycarbonate material to the outside surface of the Britespan building trusses, dramatically improving certain key performance characteristics of commercial greenhouse systems. The Atlantis Greenhouse optimally accommodates Affinor’s vertical growing technology and processes.

Affinor will be the exclusive worldwide dealer of the Atlantis Greenhouse and Britespan will be the exclusive worldwide supplier of the Atlantis Greenhouse Structure for a term of ten years, with automatic 2-year renewals thereafter.

Affinor and Britespan have also agreed to work together to manufacture the first full-scale demonstration greenhouse to be built adjacent to Affinor’s current lease location on Page Road in Abbotsford.

CEO Nick Brusatore commented: “The future of indoor and greenhouse vertical farming depends largely on physics for high quality production. The Atlantis Greenhouse design accommodates the environmental requirements for automated, vertical farming production, to prepare us for radical climate changes and the various environments we face globally. I expect that the Atlantis Greenhouse will be very competitive and environmentally superior.”

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More than 1.1 million tons of greenhouse vegetables have been harvested in Russia since the beginning of the year

The collection of vegetables and green crops in winter greenhouses in Russia amounted to 1.134 million tons since the beginning of the year, the press service of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation reported on November 5.

In the harvested crop, the share of greenhouse cucumbers is 651 thousand tons, and of tomatoes – 458.6 thousand tons. For the same period in 2020, the collection of vegetables in greenhouses amounted to 1.094 million tons, which is 3.6% less than this year.
The most developed production of greenhouse products in Lipetsk, Moscow, Volgograd, Kaluga, Novosibirsk regions, Krasnodar and Stavropol Territories, in the republics of Karachay-Cherkessia, Tatarstan and Bashkiria, they are among the top ten regions-leaders in the industry.
The development of the sub-industry is facilitated by measures of state support, first of all, preferential lending. For farmers who grow vegetables in greenhouses using supplementary lighting technology, there is also an opportunity to receive subsidies within the framework of the state program for the development of agriculture.
For the regions of the Far East, from 2022, compensation is provided for 20% of capital costs for the construction and modernization of greenhouse complexes.
The Ministry of Agriculture expects to maintain positive dynamics at the end of 2021. The forecast for the harvest of greenhouse vegetables is more than 1.4 million tons.
Recall that the cultivation of vegetables in winter greenhouses received a significant impetus for development within the framework of the import substitution program after the introduction of sanctions by Western countries against Russia in 2014 due to the annexation of Crimea.

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In 2023, the second stage of the complex of berry greenhouses will start operating in the Moscow region (RF)

The construction of the second stage of a complex of tunnel greenhouses for the production of berries with an area of ​​90 hectares in the Naro-Fominsk urban district of the Moscow region (RF) will be completed in 2023.


This was announced by the Minister of Agriculture and Food of the Moscow Region: “In the Naro-Fominsk urban district of the region, film tunnels with a drip irrigation system have been installed for growing fresh berries in greenhouses. On the site of the first stage with an area of ​​50 hectares this year the first harvest of berries – strawberries, blackberries and raspberries – was harvested. Work is underway on the construction of the second stage of tunnel greenhouses with an area of ​​90 hectares, which is planned to be completed in 2023 ”.

See also: New Year’s Eve without the smell of tangerines – Russia bans the import of tangerines from Turkey during the high season!

At the moment, the site has been fully prepared, it is equipped with roads, communications, a warehouse for storage and utility rooms.


Greenfields Agro LLC is implementing an investment project for the placement of tunnel greenhouses for growing berries on 148 hectares of land. The project is planned to be implemented in 3 stages. All crops are planned to be grown in tunnels using a substrate, writes the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation.

When growing berries, a bio-plant protection system is used, the berries grown in these greenhouses comply with the organic production standard. Completion of all stages of the investment project will allow Greenfields Agro to increase the gross production of berries to 2 thousand tons.

According to the minister, the total investment will amount to 1 billion rubles. The project will create more than 175 permanent and 600 seasonal jobs.


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