Glasshouses - Is now a good time for growers to replace or expand their glasshouses?

Unsure what effects may be suffered from the economic downturn, many growers put capital investment projects on the backburner last year. Glasshouse designers and installers found it quieter on the commercial side of business, while planning held up some retail projects.

Education and research sector willing and able to spend over the las 12 months - image: HW
Education and research sector willing and able to spend over the las 12 months - image: HW

This year, probably in view of the hard winter, the early months continued to be quiet. But leading glasshouse suppliers say some orders are now coming in. Many of the commercial projects, however, are fairly small - half an acre or an acre of standard glass.

"Growers seem more optimistic than a year ago," says Bridge Greenhouses Spalding branch manager Neil Watson. "If a company is cash rich and doesn't need to rely on the banks, it will go ahead with major capital investment. Anyone needing capital is still finding it difficult to get the banks to say yes."

Bridge Greenhouses is particularly busy in the installation of biomass boilers. The company also reports demand for new controls and thermal screens. "Growers are trying to save as much energy as they can," confirms Watson.

CambridgeHOK business development manager Noel O'Leary believes the industry has turned the corner. "It's improving, absolutely," he insists. "But we knew at the beginning of the year that we were not going to break records. Things are ticking over nicely."

The firm is involved in work including education, growers and domestic projects. At the RHS Tatton Flower Show last week, it launched the Urban Victorian domestic greenhouse.

The sector seemingly the most willing and able to spend over the past 12 months has been education and research. Watson says: "We have been doing quite a few research-type houses. That's always new glass and fairly high-tech - lots of small compartments run by computers."

The strength of sterling against the euro has helped those growers exporting to the continent. At the same time, the general public is spending more time at home. Combine these with other factors, such as the public's awareness of healthy eating, food miles and environmental issues, and there does seem to be room for optimism. Let's hope that optimism can be converted into capital investment.

REQUIRED INFORMATION

It is likely to be relevant to you, so have you filled in the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) survey yet? If not, there is still time to do so.

It is important because its eventual outcome could be a particular set of requirements for plant protection products used in protected crop systems. Your input is important to ensure any future policy outputs are based on real evidence and accurate data.

The EFSA survey of growers is being undertaken by researchers at Campden BRI in association with the NFU and is open to growers in the UK, Netherlands, Hungary and Poland.

Ultimately, the information will help assess the risk of a plant protection product, applied within a protected crop system, moving into and impacting on the wider environment.

Questions in the survey look at what structures are used, pesticide applications, crop types, growing methods and irrigation techniques. It covers most protected structures - net and plastic shelters, low and walk-in tunnels, shade houses, lowand high-tech greenhouses and closed buildings.

It also covers all protected crops. The information will provide researchers with a better understanding of what protected cropping systems are in use across Europe and the data gathered will represent an accurate update of current practices.

- You can complete the survey on the NFU website at www.nfuonline.com

WEATHER STATIONS

Operational reliability is important in large commercial glasshouses. The weather poses a key threat but you cannot be on the nursery, watching the crop, 24/7.

Most growers will monitor the situation via the internet. This puts greater emphasis on the reliability of sensors and it is usual to have duplicates.

Most nurseries, however, will only have one weather station. HortiMax, supplier of the MultiMa climate and irrigation computer, believes it is sensible to have two.

A second allows readings to be verified and errors to be speedily detected. Over large areas, a second station will alert the grower to differences in weather conditions across the site.


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Tree planting guide - three basic rules

Tree planting guide - three basic rules

Choosing the right plant, correct planting procedure and best aftercare are the three basic rules for sucessful tree planting, Sally Drury explains.

Tree planting - what are the benefits of planting trees?

Tree planting - what are the benefits of planting trees?

Mitigating climate change, providing windbreaks and reducing the risk of soil erosion are some of the best reasons for planting trees, says Sally Drury.

Tree and shrubs - nursery market

Tree and shrubs - nursery market

Growers are more optimistic now that garden designers and landscape architects are seeking more mature trees and shrubs, writes Sally Drury.


Opinion... Unbeatable delight of quality plants

Opinion... Unbeatable delight of quality plants

Viewing top-quality plants, both growing and on sale, always gives me pleasure.

Editorial ... More analysis and insight from bumper HW issue

Editorial ... More analysis and insight from bumper HW issue

Welcome to this bumper 72-page July edition of Horticulture Week magazine, packed with exclusive analysis, insight and expert advice on the biggest issues impacting all sectors of the UK horticulture industry right now.

Edwards: Will a weak pound and tariffs on imported stock be good for UK nursery production?

Edwards: Will a weak pound and tariffs on imported stock be good for UK nursery production?

At the time of writing - a few days after the general election - sterling has weakened and we still have no idea of what Brexit means.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Tim Edwards

Boningales Nursery chairman Tim Edwards on the business of ornamentals production
 

Read Tim Edwards

Ornamentals ranking

Top 30 Ornamentals Nurseries by Turnover 2017

Top 30 Ornamentals Nurseries by Turnover 2017

Tough retail pricing policies and Brexit opportunities drive the top 30 growth strategies.

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world
 

Read more Peter Seabrook articles