Erik Runkle, right, interviewing
experts at Wageningen University.
Growers who think investments in sustainability techniques and technologies are a drain on the bottom line should make time to view a new series of videos. The series, live on TheSustainabilityInitiative.org, features Michigan State University’s Erik Runkle interviewing greenhouse growers in the United States and Holland about their sustainable practices.
The project involved more than 20 greenhouse growers and industry experts who share their experiences and insights in a series of more than 40 videos. The interviews explore major issues in sustainability today, including energy, lighting, water, automation, pest control, logistics and profitability.
In dozens of candid conversations shot on location in greenhouses, labs and garden centers, Runkle delves into the ways the trade is investing in sustainable solutions to increase productivity and profitability, with a sharp eye on return on investment.
“We talked to a lot of people and asked tough questions,” Runkle says. “We discussed cutting-edge approaches like geothermal heating systems and solar panels for electricity, which in some cases are only economical with government subsidies. We also looked at smart, common-sense solutions like the grower who borrowed technology from the tropical fish industry to keep orchid shipments at optimal temperatures. In many situations, the return on investment for even very expensive conversions was surprisingly reasonable.”