Growers can now build and heat a "virtual" greenhouse -- or upgrade existing greenhouses -- on a computer, to find out how much it would cost to heat with different fuels, heating schedules, heaters, building designs and materials.
Developed by Agricultural Research Service researchers with the ARS Greenhouse Production Research Group at Toledo, Ohio, the "Virtual Grower" software is available for download free of charge.
A plant component is being added to the computer program so growers can see the effects of their heating choices and schedules not only on costs, but also on their plants.
The software is gradually being expanded to include all other aspects of greenhouse management, including applications of nutrients, water, growth regulators and pesticides. Ultimately, it will also help growers manage labor, optimize plant productivity and set sale prices.
There are many individual programs like this, but none that considers all of these factors interacting together, as this one eventually will.
Continued at... The Virtual Greenhouse