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  • Author or Editor: David Specca x
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A qualitative systems approach to controlled environment agriculture (CEA) is presented by means of several multi-institutional projects integrated into a demonstration greenhouse at the Burlington County Resource Recovery Complex (BCRRC), N.J. The greenhouse has about 0.4 ha of production space, and is located about 800 m from the about 40-ha BCRRC landfill site. A portion of the landfill gas produced from the BCRRC site is used for microturbine electricity generation and for heating the greenhouse. The waste heat from the turbines, which are roughly 15 m from the greenhouse, is used as the main heat source for the greenhouse in the winter months, and to desalinate water when heating is not required. Recovery of this waste heat increases the energy efficiency of the four 30-kW turbines from about 25% to 75%. Within the greenhouse, aquaculture and hydroponic crop production are coupled by recycling the aquaculture effluent as a nutrient source for the plants. Both the sludge resulting from the filtered effluent and the inedible biomass from harvested plants are vermicomposted (i.e., rather than being sent to the landfill), resulting in marketable products such as soil amendments and liquid plant fertilizer. If suitably cleaned of contaminants, the CO2 from the landfill gas may be used to enrich the plant growing area within the greenhouse to increase the yield of the edible products. Landfill gas from the BCRRC site has successfully been processed to recover liquid commercial grade CO2 and contaminant-free methane-CO2, with the potential for this gas mixture to be applied as a feedstock for fuel cells or for methanol production. Carbon dioxide from the turbine exhaust may also be recovered for greenhouse enrichment. Alternatively, algal culture may be used to assimilate CO2 from the turbine exhaust into biomass, which may then be used as a biofuel, or possibly as fish feed, thus making the system more self-contained. By recycling energy and materials, the system described would displace fossil fuel use, mitigating negative environmental impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions, and generate less waste in need of disposal. Successful implementation of the coupled landfill (gas-to-energy · aquaponic · desalination) system would particularly benefit developing regions, such as those of the Greater Caribbean Basin.

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Limited-cluster production systems may be a useful strategy to increase crop production and profitability for the greenhouse tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill). In this study, using an ebb-and-flood hydroponics system, we modified plant architecture and spacing and determined the effects on fruit yield and harvest index at two light levels. Single-cluster plants pruned to allow two leaves above the cluster had 25% higher fruit yields than did plants pruned directly above the cluster; this was due to an increase in fruit weight, not fruit number. Both fruit yield and harvest index were greater for all single-cluster plants at the higher light level because of increases in both fruit weight and fruit number. Fruit yield for two-cluster plants was 30% to 40% higher than for singlecluster plants, and there was little difference in the dates or length of the harvest period. Fruit yield for three-cluster plants was not significantly different from that of two-cluster plants; moreover, the harvest period was delayed by 5 days. Plant density (5.5, 7.4, 9.2 plants/m2) affected fruit yield/plant, but not fruit yield/unit area. Given the higher costs for materials and labor associated with higher plant densities, a two-cluster crop at 5.5 plants/m2 with two leaves above the cluster was the best of the production system strategies tested.

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