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re: sulfur lighting
30 dec 1995
charles troxell  wrote:
 
>uh oh, another indoor plant grower?

they are everywhere :-) ex-aerospace engineer rudy behrens of aurora farms
at (610) 489-6256, 1547 n. trooper road/norristown, pa 19403, has set up a 
36' diameter galvanized steel building, painted white on the inside, with
no windows, just 12 kw of overhead hps and metal halide gro-lights, running
16-18 hours per day, to grow organic hydroponic bok choy, lettuce, herbs and
tomatoes for local restaurants. (with all that electrical power, his well-
sealed metal building only needs an r-value of about 4 to keep the plants
warm in the winter.)

he says it takes about 900 w-h to grow a head of lettuce from seed to
maturity in 26 days, if you fool the lettuce early on with appropriate
light angles and intensities and day lengths to believe that it's june 30
on the arctic circle. (how could we do this with natural sun?) he says this
early plant training, just as the first two leaves appear from seed, programs
the whole growth cycle, and he can produce 1200 heads a day, selling for
$1 each. sales may be the weak link here, but rudy's launching an ad campaign.

he doesn't grow low-light plants like those sold by de reuters, et al, but
traditional garden varieties, like big boy tomatoes. rudy says low-light
plants look good, but to make plants taste good you have to spend energy
to make the higher complex tasty molecules. all of his electricity comes
from a propane generator.

he sells a smaller $5k system for use in cities and suburbs, with a 1 kw lamp,
ideally set up in a garage with, say, a 5 kw intelligen oil-fired cogenerator
to run the lamp and provide heat and electricity for the attached house, while
selling the excess electricity back to the power company and producing 100
heads of lettuce per day on a continuous basis, with no seasons. rudy says the
city dweller can pay off the system in 9 months, laboring one hour a day.

he has 4 other working small vegetable factories now, in lansdale, trooper and
philadelphia, pa. he calls the group a co-op, and he finds the food customers. 

nick


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