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Radiant Heat System Spurs Seed Growth
Young seedlings in the hoop greenhouse at Woodland Farm in Kentucky got a warm start in the spring of 2013, thanks to a new radiant heating system built from scratch. Farm horticulturist Stephanie Tittle and co-workers built the system with components normally used for radiant heating in a home, shop or commercial building.
  Im really excited about how well the system worked, says Tittle. The seeds germinated quickly and evenly because of the uniform heat under the trays. Before using the radiant system Id been starting all of my new seedlings in the basement, under grow lights.
  They started the project by laying 4 by 8- ft. by 2-in. thick pieces of pink insulation on a 60-ft. long growing table in the hoop greenhouse A router was used to cut 3/4-in. deep channels lengthwise in the foam boards to hold the heating tubes. Each pair of tubes connects to the hot feed manifold and the cold return manifold at one end of the table. Three zones were set up for the table with separate thermostats that started the heated fluid moving through the tubes when temperatures deviated + or 3 degrees. The thermostats were placed in the growing media so temperatures reflected where the seeds were germinating, not the ambient air in the greenhouse.
  Tittle says one of the big benefits of this system is having the heat under the germinating seeds, not just warming the surface air. It has the same effect as sunlight warming the soil, and that really starts the seeds off fast. Each of the three zones held 80 plug trays, which were covered with plastic to hold in moisture and uniform heat until the seeds germinate.
  Warm water for the heat tubes was routed from a radiator system into three manifolds at the end of the growing table. The water temperature is kept at a constant 70 to 80 degrees, which is ideal to heat the growing trays and start germination.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Stephanie Tittle, Woodland Farm, Goshen, Ky. (ph 502 222-7051; www.woodlandfarm.com).

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2014 - Volume #38, Issue #1