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JSC Georgian Greenhouse Corporation

Since attending Plant Empowerment’s Summer School in June 2022, Paata Abuladze, chief grower at the JSC Georgian Greenhouse Corporation, has enthusiastically been practicing and teaching the Plant Empowerment philosophy on both sides of the equator. And ever since, they have been able to create a steadier and more stable growing environment, use the screens more precisely, and save energy. Curious about his story? Read everything about it below.

Abuladze was one of a 10-strong group of dynamic growers of high wire crops who united at the GreenTech trade fair in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, last June (2022) for Plant Empowerment’s Summer School. Throughout this intensive five-day masterclass, Abuladze and his fellow delegates attended lectures by the Plant Empowerment implementation partners, drew inspiration from the displays and stands at the GreenTech and Floriade trade shows, and visited several pioneering growers.

Recalling how he first heard about the Summer School, Abuladze says: “We are using high-pressure sodium lights from Plant Empowerment implementation partner, Hortilux. They informed me that Plant Empowerment was organizing a Summer School. Our CEO and I decided that it would be an interesting event to attend – an opportunity to gain some good knowledge and new information that we could use. And this proved to be true.”

New insights into using climate screens

Abuladze reveals that one of the insights he gained during the action-packed masterclass was how best to utilize climate screens in the glasshouse. He reveals that the JSC Greenhouse Corporation, which is based in Eastern Europe in the city of Gardabani in the south of Georgia, boasts some ten hectares of modern greenhouses in which 18 hybrids of different-colored mini-plum, plum, cocktail, and beef tomatoes are produced. Cucumbers, and a small number of peppers, are also grown on the site.

Six of these ten hectares are plastic greenhouses, while the remaining four hectares (five including the nursery) are glasshouses in which climate screens are used “very actively,” explains Abuladze ­– who admits that “after those Summer School lectures, we are using them even more.”

Energy saving

“I was already involved with Plant Empowerment because we had a very knowledgeable Plant Empowerment consultant, Mark van der Werf, visiting our greenhouse several times a year. He would teach us Plant Empowerment techniques, and we would apply them. But prior to attending the Summer School, we would have screen gaps during the night which we have now eliminated.”


“We now ventilate above the screens and that helps us to get rid of extra humidity. And thanks to the screens being fully closed, we are not losing as much heat. So actually, we are saving energy.”


“We used to deploy more heating through the pipes to get rid of the humidity. But now, because we have fully-closed screens, we don’t use the pipes as much.”

Knowledge sharing

Learning helpful growing techniques and sharing knowledge with other growers was a really good part of the Summer School, notes Abuladze. “I met growers from all over the world – from the US, Canada, Greece, and The Netherlands, for example. We talked about growing all the time and shared many ideas with one another. We found that we had a lot of similar problems, and lots of different problems as well. We agreed that, at this point in Europe, energy is the biggest problem – which is why it has been advantageous to reduce our reliance on pipes.”

The grower adds that visiting some of The Netherlands’ historical sites with the other delegates was really interesting.


“I really enjoyed the Summer School. I think it was helpful and productive and I would definitely go again.”


Read another story of one of the Summer School participants >>

Plant Empowerment across the globe

Abuladze notes that, following the Summer School masterclass, he has also been imparting his newfound knowledge to colleagues on the other side of the world. His passion for, and experience of, growing means that he is in high demand within the global fresh produce sector. Abuladze, therefore, flies to Southern Australia three times a year where he advises and works with, the team at Comfresh – a cucumber producer based in Salisbury North, near Adelaide, that is currently building a new multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art glasshouse facility.

“One of the best ways to boost business development is to share ideas. In Australia, I’m increasing my knowledge and sharing ideas with the team there.”

Growing up in agriculture

Abuladze has worked for the JSC Greenhouse Corporation (his primary employer) for eight years. Before that, he completed two internships – one in Australia and one in the United States – after gaining a master’s degree in agriculture.

“My parents had a small holding, and I grew up helping them with it. The time I spent on this farm inspired me to become a grower and study agriculture at university. That was my goal – to become a grower.” Abuladze has undoubtedly achieved this goal – helping to grow fresh produce sustainably in both Georgia and Australia. “At Comfresh in Southern Australia, they are growing without any heating. The Australian winter is a little bit milder than in Georgia, but it still gets quite cold during the night. So, we can close the climate screens fully during the night, and open the windows, and that keeps the heat inside but lets the humidity out, so it maintains a better climate for the plant.”

Steady and stable

In addition to using the screens more precisely, Abuladze is applying his enhanced knowledge of the Plant Empowerment principles – which encourage an integrated approach to sustainable growth by supporting the plant’s balances – to other aspects of high-wire crop production. For instance, the JSC Greenhouse Corporation is now using RTR – the ratio between temperature and radiation – to better determine the required light levels and temperatures.

According to the Plant Empowerment philosophy, a steady ratio between the two should be achieved. “This helps us to create a steadier and more stable growing environment that’s maintained according to the numbers. Before that, we were growing more on a feeling – known as ‘green fingers.’ Now, we are more focussed on data collection.”

Growing according to the crop’s needs

Inspired by what he learned during the Masterclass, Abuladze and his team are also now carrying out leaf tissue analyses – taking samples from both the top and the bottom of the high-wire crops to find out how the plants are doing. As a result of this, they are using fewer nitrates as the analyses have been indicating that the leaves have had more than enough nitrogen. “We’ve cut down on nitrates – which are an energy-intensive fertilizer to produce and so they’re getting more expensive with this energy crisis. And instead of nitrate-based fertilizer, we are now using more sulfates and chlorides in our crops.”

And so, as this busy grower continues to produce high-wire salad crops on both sides of the equator, he emphasizes the importance of Plant Empowerment principles – which are particularly valuable during these challenging economic times. “It’s more about using physics and modern growing knowledge to improve your climate, according to your crop’s needs. And this approach can help every kind of crop.


Do you want to get in contact?

Plant Health Consultant Plant Empowerment

Mark van der Werf

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