New growing tech responds to changing weather
A new structure stretching 23 yards is one response to a changing climate at the Glynwood Center in Philipstown, where crop fields have faced threats from both flooding and drought just within the last 2½ years.
In July, the regional food and farming center’s staff began digging 8 feet down, the first phase of creating an innovative greenhouse heated by underground tubes.
Completed last fall and measuring 70 feet long, 30 feet wide and 16 feet high, the structure uses the soil as a “battery.” Even in the winter, temperatures can reach 90 degrees inside a greenhouse. That heat, instead of being vented, is pulled underground, where it is stored and used for reheating the greenhouse when temperatures drop overnight.
It’s just the second climate-battery greenhouse in the Hudson Valley, said Jarret Nelson, who manages vegetable operations. He expects it to boost the yields of winter crops like arugula and lettuce and summer crops such as peppers and tomatoes.
“We’re getting much less predictable weather with climate change in general, with more extremes,” he said. “Having a climate battery helps us mitigate the impact of those extremes in either direction.”
When plants are threatened during hotter, drier summers, such as the drought-ridden one in 2022 that triggered water-conservation warnings in the Highlands, the greenhouse fans can draw coolness from the soil, whose temperature usually measures about 50 degrees, even in the summer.
Because fans power the heating and cooling, Glynwood does not need to use propane to keep indoor plants warm, reducing its carbon footprint. “Eventually we might be able to have a solar setup, so then it would be a really renewable system,” said Nelson.