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Gutter Connected Greenhouse Lean-to 101

A greenhouse Lean-to is one of the most versatile additions to a gutter connect greenhouse range that any greenhouse manufacturer can offer you. Consider the different ways a Lean-to structure can add production space, improve productivity, and provide connectivity to your greenhouse range.

Lean-tos are used for a number of applications – storage, extra bench spacing, propagation, extra growing space, connecting halls.  If you retail, it can be a good place for extra stock during the busy spring months, or used as a window display area if covered in glass.

There are 3 major different types of Lean-tos:

  • The Connecting Lean-to:


This style of Lean-to connects your warehouse, or store front to the greenhouse range or greenhouse garden center.  Most often the connecting lean-to slopes away from a warehouse wall in a straight slope.  However they can also be manufactured into a curved arch design similar to your greenhouse arch.  The optimal style for a connecting lean-to will depend on the width of the area you wish to cover and the difference in height between your building façade and the greenhouse gutter.

Connecting Lean-tos are engineered to account for additional snow load created by the main warehouse building.  The direction and the length of the slope of your warehouse building are considered when we design and manufacture these.


  • The Sidewall Lean-to:

This style of Lean-to is most often chosen for adding additional square footage within a comfortable budget. Ideal for greenhouse growers who plan to expand onto a sidewall in the future, the sidewall lean-to provides an arch from the gutter to the grade.

The second most common reason greenhouse growers choose this style of lean-to is to maximize coverage of your property.  Sidewall lean-tos can be designed for various widths making it a valuable option if you have a little extra room on your property but cannot fit a full sized greenhouse bay. 



  • The Gutter height adjusting Lean-to:


This style of Lean-to is most often required over time as greenhouse expansions take advantage of the improved growing environment that taller gutter heights give you.

Covering growing area between gutters of different heights can be designed with a straight slope similar to the Connecting Lean-to, but is more often accomplished with a specially rolled arch in order to maintain the same footprint as the gutter connected range.  Custom rolled arches are an economical way to manufacture a greenhouse roof, and maintaining the same footprint is much easier for your ongoing production planning.

Recently the NGMA (National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association) published their annual Structures Report.  Many growers responded to this survey saying they are planning to expand their greenhouse operation this year, however most felt their expansion plans would be less than 10,000 square feet. If you are a grower like those surveyed by the Greenhouse Manufacturers Association, a lean-to may be exactly what you are looking for.

Interested in a Lean-to? Contact GGS now



10 Commercial Greenhouse Improvements for Best Value Returns


Side View of Garden Centre

There are many reasons to make improvements in a commercial greenhouse, modernizing your greenhouse can reduce maintenance costs, or make productivity improvements, or improve the greenhouse environment for better growing, or maybe you want to add some extra growing space.  Whatever the reason it is important to understand what the goal is before you talk to your greenhouse manufacturer.

  1. Replacing stationary benches with rolling benches can add 25% more production space compared to conventional stationary bench layouts. By eliminating the extra aisles needed for stationary benches, rolling benches are a much more efficient use of your greenhouse.
  2. Bringing in material handling systems like double rail carts or Rotating Basket Systems can greatly increase productivity. Remember if your material handling system is supported by the greenhouse you need to make sure the greenhouse design will handle these loads. Greenhouse manufacturers and equipment suppliers work together to design systems that integrate well.
  3. Install energy curtains. Energy curtains will result in significant heat savings in the winter – between 20 to 40 percent for northern greenhouses. They also provide shade and help keep your greenhouse cool in the summer months. Shade systems and energy curtains can be added to most gutter connect and freestanding greenhouses.  Greenhouse manufacturers like GGS are able to retrofit most existing greenhouses.
  4. Upgrade your boiler to a high efficiency boiler, or if you are using unit heaters, change to high efficiency heaters.  Not only will the increased efficiency leave more money in your pocket each winter, it’s also good for the environment.
  5. Consider ebb and flood benches, or trough benches. The savings potential in irrigation water and fertilizer can justify the cost of the benches with a favourable ROI.
  6. Increasing ventilation on your greenhouse provides better flexibility for your growing environment to reduce humidity, increase air flow, or help to harden plants. Rollup curtains can be added on to any hoop house or gutter connected poly sidewalls or poly end walls, and can be manually operated or hooked up with a simple motor. Hard glazed sides and ends can be fitted with swinging vents, and in most cases we can reuse the existing sidewall glazing. And if you don’t already have roof ventilation: GGS manufactures gutter vents, and ridge vents that can be added to most greenhouse arches.
  7. Adding a Lean-to to the side of your existing gutter connected greenhouse is the most economical production space a greenhouse manufacturer can provide you.  If you are looking to expand your greenhouse operation but don’t have the budget or the demand for a large scale construction project a lean-to may just be the answer you are looking for.
  8. Put in an environmental control system, or update your current environmental control system. The capabilities of the computerized environmental controls today are amazing.  If you don’t know where to begin talk to your greenhouse manufacturer.  At GGS we work with all the major control companies, and we are happy to assist growers in selecting the controls that best suit your needs.
  9. A simple little thing like adding HAF fans inside your greenhouse can have a beneficial effect on both your crop and your workforce. At GGS we provide you with HAF fan layouts to maximize consistent airflow in your greenhouse and eliminate dead areas. If your greenhouse has hot spots in the summer it’s not just your plants that may be lagging, creating a good working environment will lead to more productive workers too.
  10. Reglazing the roof. If you are growing in a poly greenhouse the reglazing is part of your regular maintenance schedule. But, 8mm PCSS roofs, Acrylic, and even glass can get dull, or damaged. When looking at how to get more out of your greenhouse consider the light levels you need and review your roof glazing.

Why Agriculture Technology is the Next Big Thing

In the numerous pitches that I have sat through, I have often heard VC’s draw a distinction between “Must Have” solutions and “Nice to Have” solutions. “Must Have” solutions address real world problems; Nice-To-Have solutions might make life easier, but nobody will miss them.

AgTech addresses “Must Have” problems. The Earth’s population is expected to hit 9 billion by 2050. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, food production must increase by 60% to feed that growing population and, since they aren’t making any more land, ninety percent of the growth in crop production is expected to come from higher yields on existing farm land. Farmers must become more efficient and they will only do so through new technology.

The agriculture industry is already highly dependent on technology and is not slow to adapt to improve yields. “Precision agriculture,” for example, currently helps farmers determine where and what to plant on their land with a level of accuracy that was not possible ten years ago. The next step is to move from precision agriculture to predictive agriculture and “Big Data” will be the main driver of this change.

Precision agriculture

Precision agriculture allows monitoring and mapping of yields, and accesses live soil information through built-in sensors in vehicles. GPS equipped vehicles now track land and auto-guidance technology can steer a vehicle enhancing accuracy and reducing operator fatigue. Crops planted with this technology can later be harvested with optimal precision.

Yield mapping is capable of monitoring crop yield and soil moisture content. When combined with GPS technology, seed planting can take advantage of the most appropriate soil conditions and minimize waste. Most of the data generated can be viewed on mobile phone applications, allowing farmers to make quick decisions on the go.

With the precison tools that are currently available and being developed, farmers can reduce waste and squeeze more production out of the same acreage.

Predictive Agriculture

The technologies used in precision agriculture not only increase efficiencies, they also allow the producer to plan on a larger scale. For example, a seed, fertilizer, or planting technique that works on one patch of land may not work on another. Historically, farmers have learned what works through experience and personal knowledge. Precision agriculture technology reduces the need for this personal knowledge by providing satellite guidance, monitoring and mapping yields, and giving access to live soil information through vehicle sensors.

Big Data

Because precision agriculture necessarily involves collecting vast amounts of data, companies will combine this data and use it to predict trends. For example, Monsanto Company captured the headlines in 2013 with its $930 million acquisition of Climate Corp, a company founded by early Google employees who created a service whereby people can state what type of weather they want to insure against and receive a quote within seconds. Climate Corp initially offered services to all business that depended on the weather, but soon realized that agriculture was by far the biggest and focused its activities on that sector.

Big Data has the potential to predict farming needs on a mass scale. However, farmers must overcome a number of legal and regulatory challenges. While many farmers will benefit from access to shared information, those that currently have a competitive edge over the competition may want to keep that information in-house for as long as possible.


Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drone technology (when it becomes legal) will also complement the drive towards Big Data by allowing farmers to collect data on their farms without needing to drive a vehicle over the land. Drones allow for mass data collection, planting seeds, and even delivering spare parts to a tractor broken down in the field. Drones could be used to survey land and cut down on time spent travelling to the far corners of a farm only to find that the conditions are not suitable for work. Drones could revolutionize farming by allowing surgical use of pesticides, fertilizer, and water, while improving environmental efficiency in the process.


In California alone, agriculture is a $46 billion per year industry. In California, the average customer of Agetch products (i.e. the farmer) is a $6 million a year business. And most of the farms in this state are “wired” with internet and mobile access. Despite those metrics, in 2012, agriculture technology companies raised just over $100 million of venture capital funding from around 40 deals. That’s tiny in the scheme of things. The area is growing, however, as AgFunder News estimates there’s been about $401 million invested in 35 companies so far this year. That’s a big increase, but it is a small fraction of the venture capital dollars available for investment. The agriculture technology market is still immature and most deals are early stage. As companies mature, the size of the deals and the dollars invested can only grow.

There are challenges ahead to feed the Earth’s ever increasing population, however rapid advances in precision and predictive farming, big data and drone technology will provide farmers with the resources they need to increase supply to the required levels and attract more and more attention from the investment community. AgTech promises to be the next big thing.

Additional resources:

AgTech – The Intersection of Technology, Venture Capital and Agriculture

Article Source: Why Agriculture Technology Is The Next Big Thing

GGS Bought A Helicopter Part 2

GGS Bought A Helicopter Part 2

Just over a month ago GGS Structures Inc invested in a drone. We were interested in what the tiny yet powerful device could mean to the greenhouse industry.

Every day a handful of new articles pop up on news feeds with a new way that drone technology is being used. It's been interesting following this hot new trend. Just this week an amateur pilot of a drone helped locate and rescue an 82-year-old missing man helping end a three day search.

GGS decided to use the drone to make a video of some of our structures and put together a totally new perspective for looking at greenhouses from above. If you missed us at Cultivate 14 now is your chance to see some incredible footage.

With all the news and uses coming up since the release of these devices it's clear the technology has a future in the greenhouse industry.

We felt so strongly about it that for GGS Structures Inc's 35th anniversary we are celebrating by giving away a drone complete with a GoPro camera! Have a look at our video and enter to win!


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