How Technology Is Reducing Greenhouse Labor Challenges

Labor is one of the biggest issues facing the horticulture industry today. Every market has labor challenges, but for the greenhouse industry, recruiting and retaining employees has long been a challenge.

Many roles include repetitive tasks, such as filling pots with soil, moving trays, or sticking cuttings, and these positions can be hard to fill. During the busy season, greenhouse operations need many more employees than the rest of the year, so finding enough seasonal labor is also a challenge.

Most growers have turned to technology and automation to address these issues. Technology comes in many forms, from labor-tracking apps to climate control software to equipment like transplanters and irrigation booms. Growers are selecting what works best for them to fill their labor needs.

Everyone is looking for labor savings, says Dave Taylor, Enterprise Solutions Manager for AdeptAg, an amalgamation of AgriNomix Automation Solutions, Zwart Irrigation Solutions, Bellpark Automation Solutions, and Plantech Control Solutions. Many of AdeptAg’s clients are in Canada, where the minimum wage is going up. There are also rising prices in energy and gas, so growers are looking to cut costs wherever they can. By automating repetitive tasks and tracking labor efficiency from their employees, operations have seen improvements in their bottom line. Such equipment is costly — and always has been — but now the cost of labor is becoming comparable to the cost of automation, Taylor says.

Learn more about how growers in the horticulture industry and across the world of specialty agriculture are navigating labor issues in the new “Labor and Technology” report presented by Meister Media Worldwide, publisher of Greenhouse Grower. You can find the report here. To access past Global Insights Series covering topics such as biological crop protection, water, and climate-smart farming, click here.

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