With the Met Office anticipating that this summer's fine weather will last throughout June, July and August, it’s becoming ever more important for soft fruit growers in the UK to look at ways in which they can adapt to increased temperatures. Whilst there are a number of methods to choose from, today we're looking at ventilation.

Good ventilation is crucial for soft fruit growers and, for those growing under cover, the benefits of ensuring that there’s adequate air flow in the polytunnel are immense. Ventilation can help to reduce the risk of temperature build-up in sunny conditions, prevent the build-up of humidity and also play a role in preventing disease infections such as botrytis rot.

With regards to ventilation, there are two main options: roof ventilation and side ventilation. Both methods each have their own advantages and disadvantages, and of course the cost of supplying power to fans and control systems, for example, must be taken into account when making a purchasing decision, but both are relatively low-cost solutions for growers. 

Roof ventilation makes rapid temperature control in warm weather possible but can sometimes lead to lower-than-ideal temperatures in the polytunnel if not controlled carefully, which can delay maturity. As there is a wide choice of products on offer, the form which your roof ventilation takes will vary but, in our experience, fans are the most popular option.

Our polytunnel roof extraction fans, for example, which won the ‘Best New Product Award’ at the Four Oaks Trade Show in 2016, are designed to extract excessive heat from polytunnels are an economical solution for soft fruit growers looking to increase air flow. For added control, they can be used with temperature switches and control panels.

Our Polytunnel Extraction Fan In Action

Our award-winning polytunnel extraction fans are designed to exhaust excessive heat from polythene clad greenhouses and can be easily and simply installed. Our extractions fans are usually used with a temperature switch, check out this video to see one of them in action!

Side ventilation is another method that growers can use to help maintain an optimal growing climate in their polytunnels. But it’s important to be aware that the temperature in the section above the vent is reduced at a slower rate than below the vent and that, according to Teagasc, temperatures generally remain slightly above that of a polytunnel with roof ventilation.

The last few years have seen major advances in ventilation design, however, and roll-up side vents now come with the option of thermostatically-controlled motors. Our automated vent control systems have become an increasingly popular option for growers and are easily installed to existing systems but require a swap from your manual gearbox to a 24vDC reversing motor.

Automatic Polytunnel Side Vent

Our 24vDC Gear Systems are usually mounted externally, on either a 45 degree telescopic arm or on to a vertical support tube with a drive carriage. These are wired to a control panel allowing operation at the flick of a switch.

Automatic side ventilation systems allow you to not only control the temperature precisely, based on a number of different factors, but also removes the risk of human error. The benefit of automation is that the temperature in your polytunnel is controlled based on actual temperatures, rather than what you or your workers believe the temperature to be. 

As you can see, there a number of different options available for soft fruit growers looking to increase ventilation in their polytunnel. Should you require more information about our commercial ventilation, feel free to browse our product range online. We’ll also be exhibiting at Fruit Focus later this year should you wish to chat to our experts about your future needs.