Conserving natural resources through shadehouses and screenhouses
Sponsored by Bayer Hawaii
Shadehouses and screenhouses are used to protect plants as much as possible during its biological lifecycle and control growing conditions by reducing insect pressure, increasing growing degree units, and controlling irrigation. On Bayer Hawaii’s Maui Farm, there there are both shadehouses and three screenhouses. The shadehouse was built about 10 years ago, and it is where Bayer starts all its seedlings before being transplanted into either the field or screenhouses.
With the adoption of the shadehouse model, Bayer now plants everything in the shadehouse where there are higher germination rates due to reduced exposure to agronomic issues. This shadehouse model reduces Bayer’s land usage footprint by more than 80 percent. In addition to the land savings, Bayer is also reducing its usage of water and other natural resources that would have been used to grow the additional plants in the field.
Most recently, Bayer has constructed three 20,000 square feet screenhouses at its Maui farm. The initial purpose for construction of these screenhouses was to move nurseries out of the fields where the plants are exposed to the various stresses that are associated with field plantings, including insect pressure, weed pressure, soil inconsistencies and wind.
The differences between the shadehouse and screenhouses are their use and what they are constructed of. The shadehouse is very similar to a greenhouse, except the roof is made of a clear plastic and the walls are made out of a mesh to allow wind to move through it. The shadehouse at Bayer’s Maui Farm is completely automated and is taking constant weather readings including wind, rain and amount of sunlight. The shadecloth helps the plants when they are young to adjust to the strong sun.
Bayer has also adopted the use of sensor technology to help with irrigation within the screenhouses. These sensors will transmit the moisture of the soil media and trigger the irrigation system. This allows them to deliver the exact amount of water and fertilizer the plant needs at the right time within the plants life cycle.
For anyone interested in learning more about Bayer’s framing operations on Oahu, Maui or Molokai, visit its Instagram: @bayer4cropshi.