Innovator Spotlight: Dutch Heritage Gardens
Larkspur, CO, USA
Historically, DHG would source their young plants (plugs and liners) from a third-party and finish them in their greenhouses. That changed in 2012 when DHG expanded to propagate 95% of production in-house, but quickly realized the need for good, quality light on younger crops. Having a few HPS lighting systems sitting around, Austin quickly started experimenting.
While the addition of light from HPS was showing decent results, it came at a cost: maintenance issues, bulb replacements, heat, high energy consumption and less-than-ideal plant quality. He tried fluorescent, but experienced similar issues resulting in suboptimal morphology due to plant stretch.
At this same time, Austin was introduced to Fluence who offered a better approach to accomplishing his goals. Working with the already advanced greenhouse infrastructure, Fluence recommended attaching the RAY66 lighting solution to their boom irrigation systems from Cherry Creek. The Fluence LED solutions deliver a better quality spectrum for improved crop initiation and develop, and came with a lower operating cost. At just 120 watts, RAY66 offers a dramatic decrease in energy consumption compared to the previous HPS and fluorescent alternatives being considered.
The combination of improved light intensity, spectrum, energy efficiency and overall deployment has resulted in dramatic improvements to DHG business since deploying the Fluence RAY solutions. Initial trials on Regal Geraniums showed significant improvement in flower initiation, as well as flower uniformity and development. Night break trials on Rudbeckia “Black-eyed Susan” were so impactful that DHG was able to move crops out the door in June, six weeks earlier than normal.
“We’re just getting started, yet based on the results we’ve already seen with Fluence, I can’t wait to see what they can do next,” Austin says.
Initial trials showed great results for DLI extension and photoperiod manipulation of long-day plants in winter/spring, and current trials are underway for night break interruption of short-day plants (specifically Mums). But staying true to their mission, DHG has seen enough to know a good thing when they see it and are already outfitting acres of their greenhouse with Fluence lighting as they stay on the cutting-edge of growing.