If you work with G2, you will realize rather quickly that we are fairly wide open. We have opinions, and we'll let you know them. We mean no offense. You are hiring us to work on your projects with you. We feel that we owe you our best effort, and that includes ... letting you know what we think.
As we attempt to develop a sustainable research greenhouse, we obviously have to make compromises, especially where pest/pathogen control and nutrient requirements are concerned. But the process --- how we make our decisions --- is always with sustainability in mind. Yes, we temper that vision with a farmer's pragmatism. But we all know the vision, and diligently pursue it.
For instance, the air entering G2's 20,000 SF greenhouse passes through a fine screen designed to exclude pests as small as western flower thrips. This design feature minimizes the impact of seasonal insect pests within the greenhouses. However if you have ever worked within an insect-screened greenhouse, even screens are not perfect.
Furthermore, we frequently bring in plants from the outside (either by purchase or selections from our breeding programs). No matter how thoroughly we sanitize these specimens, we invariably bring in small populations of pests, either on the plant material or in the media. Yes, we re-pot. Yes, we attempt to sanitize cuttings. No, this is not a perfect solution, either.
We do not attempt to maintain a sterile facility, only a reasonably clean one. And again, since we are working from a clean slate, visitors to G2's research greenhouses are invariably impressed with the levels of cleanliness.
G2's greenhouses are also heated through the floor. Warm floors generally mean dry floors, and dry floors tend to stay cleaner, longer.
Our greenhouse water (a topic on which there will be multiple posts) is sanitized by the addition of small amounts of a chlorine-containing acid (hypochlorous acid --- brand name H2Oxide). Think of H2Oxide as a type of chlorine bleach, in a low-level formulation which is not phytotoxic to plants. In our experience, it works effectively. We still occasionally have minor algae and biofilm accumulations, but these are controllable. Is H2Oxide an organic-certified treatment? No. We choose to use it because we concluded that it is the solution with the least environmental impact and the best performance. If we can minimize the growth of biofilms and algae on the floors, and in the cooling systems, we can minimize the need to use more aggressive insecticides for pests like shore flies and fungus gnats.
Sustainable is not simple in a research greenhouse. We are proud of our efforts. We will continue to get better. We will continue to share our efforts with you.