Climate screens are typically used inside glass greenhouses to improve control of humidity and temperature, and thus reduce energy expenditure. Shade nets are more appropriate to use, either with or without polyethylene cladding, at locations less-reliant on climate control, but where protection against hail, wind and excessive solar radiation might be needed. In addition, insect screens and nets can be employed to hinder insect pests and other invertebrates entering either type of production environment, and to keep invertebrates used in pest management contained inside. Screens and nets both transmit sunlight in a wavelength-specific manner, giving them the potential to affect plant morphology and physiology. Screens and nets of various colours and nominal shading factors have been described and studied; however, detailed measurements of their spectral characteristics are scarce. We measured solar spectral photon-irradiance and its attenuation by climate screens, shade nets, insect nets, greenhouse glass, and polyethylene covers. Our aim was to elucidate the effects of different patterns, colours, and shading factors, on light quality in production environments. Our measurements reveal that there are large differences both in the fraction of global irradiance attenuated and spectral ratios received under materials that are otherwise superficially similar in terms of their appearance and texture. We suggest that the type of spectral characterization that we performed is required to fully interpret the results of research examining plant responses to different types of screen and net. These data on spectral irradiance would benefit material manufacturers, researchers, growers, and horticultural consultants, enabling material selection to better match the solutions sought by growers and their desired outcomes regarding plant performance.
Kotilainen, T., Matthew Robson, T., & Hernández, R. (2018). Light quality characterization under climate screens and shade nets for controlled-environment agriculture. PLoS ONE, 13(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0199628