University of Vermont


Environmental controls in the UVM greenhouse

Environmental Controls in the UVM Greenhouses

The desired temperature range for each separate compartment, with both night and day settings, is programmed into our computer system. It will monitor and control the temperature, keeping it within the set range under a variety of outdoor weather conditions. In winter, we are able to program temperatures from 35 to 90F. In summer, most compartments are kept in the 70s unless it is very hot outside. Compartments 6 and 11 have air conditioning units to help maintain cooler temperatures in the summer, if they are needed.
Our computer system monitors the temperature in each compartment through two temperature probes, one static and one with circulating air. When the average temperature from the two probes approaches the set upper limit, the computer begins cooling the compartment by opening eve vents. If the temperature continues to rise, it activates exhaust fans that draw cool outside air in through the open vents. If it is still getting hotter, the evaporative cooling pads are activated, which cool the incoming air with re-circulated water. These pads are used a lot during the hot summer months.
Automatic shade cloths help maintain cooler temperatures under the hot mid-day summertime sun. They also reduce the light intensity in the summer, and in the winter they help to insulate the warmer compartments during cold nights.

During the winter months, the greenhouses are heated by steam radiators that line the perimeter. In the short winter days, some plants may need supplemental light. This is provided by portable lights plugged into built-in timers in the West Bay or portable ones in the East Bay.

All compartments are serviced by direct lines containing tap water, fertilizer, and compressed air. The tap water and fertilizer lines are used for watering, and the compressed air is used for aeration in hydroponics and other uses in research projects. Circulation fans provide a constant air flow to help maintain healthy plants. Relative humidity and CO2 levels are not monitored or controlled by the computer, but humidity levels can be controlled indirectly through misting, watering, and ventilation practices.

Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding the environmental controls in the UVM greenhouse.

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Last modified June 24 2002 09:22 AM

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