Anyone Can Automate [opinion]

Advanced Automation

And it seemed like a pretty timely topic. As we were putting together the March issue, there was a lot of buzz in Washington that immigration reform was suddenly a priority. It sounded like we might actually see movement toward changes that would benefit business in general and agriculture and ornamentals growers specifically.

Then came the sequester.

Public discussion of everything else came to a screeching halt, first for the lead up to the budget cuts, and then for the analysis and fallout of what it all means. With Congressional debate over the debt ceiling coming next, you’ll forgive me for being a little skeptical that meaningful immigration reform is coming any time soon.

Find Opportunities For Efficiency

So in the meantime, what are you going to do? Perhaps you’re fortunate enough to have an abundance of great people available to perform the tasks you need to get done every day during a busy spring season. Many growers aren’t so lucky.

But whether you’re fully staffed or not, every grower, regardless of size, should be considering automation of some kind.

I know a lot of you think of “automation” of your production lines or greenhouses as something that’s only an option for bigger growers, but that’s not necessarily the case. We tried to uncover some realistic automation options for everyone in this issue of Greenhouse Grower.

A $200,000 planter isn’t the only way to go about finding labor savings in your operation. Something as simple as a conveyor can add efficiency to a planting line for a small grower who’s still doing most tasks by hand. Areas like heating, cooling, irrigation and lighting — and many others — can also be done more efficiently and cost-effectively with a few very simple adjustments.

Still aren’t convinced? Take a look at the “Automate Simple Greenhouse Tasks” feature for some steps you can take now to improve your operation. And “How To Automate At Any Size” highlights new labor-saving and -enhancing equipment from pot fillers to transplanters.

Maybe by the time you’re reading this, the political tides have turned once again and real progress is being made to help you get the staff you need. But even the most expedient legislation won’t come in time to help you this season, or probably next.

Take a few minutes to walk through your facilities and look for opportunities to make your operation run more efficiently. Whether it’s a new planting line or a timer on a lighting controller, you’ll be making an investment in your business.

Leave a Reply

More From Labor...

October 27, 2017

AmericanHort Issues Statement on the House Judiciary Committee Approval of the Agricultural Guest Worker Act

The Committee’s action is just the first step in what will be a long and important legislative process.

Read More
Capitol Hill_ feature

October 19, 2017

AmericanHort’s Main Priorities After Impact Washington: Tax Reform, Labor Reform, Research Funding

Now that Impact Washington is over, AmericanHort, with industry support, is looking to continue its focus on tax reform, labor reform, and research and innovation.

Read More
Workers

July 25, 2017

H-2B Gets Cap Increase – Here’s How it Impacts Horticulture; Plus Thoughts on H-2A

Greenhouse Grower caught up with AmericanHort’s Craig Regelbrugge to find out how changes to the non-agricultural guestworker program impacts us, and what it could mean for changes to H-2A, the agricultural guestworker program.

Read More
Latest Stories

October 27, 2017

AmericanHort Issues Statement on the House Judiciary Co…

The Committee’s action is just the first step in what will be a long and important legislative process.

Read More
Capitol Hill_ feature

October 19, 2017

AmericanHort’s Main Priorities After Impact Washi…

Now that Impact Washington is over, AmericanHort, with industry support, is looking to continue its focus on tax reform, labor reform, and research and innovation.

Read More
Workers

July 25, 2017

H-2B Gets Cap Increase – Here’s How it Impacts Ho…

Greenhouse Grower caught up with AmericanHort’s Craig Regelbrugge to find out how changes to the non-agricultural guestworker program impacts us, and what it could mean for changes to H-2A, the agricultural guestworker program.

Read More
North Creek Nurseries Head Grower and Owner

July 9, 2017

How to Empower Your Future Managers

If you’re looking to retain employees and develop effective managers, provide them with the skills they need to realize their highest potential.

Read More
Heat Safety App

June 18, 2017

Protect Your Employees from Heat-Related Illnesses with…

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have released an updated app for smart phones that can help workers stay safe when working outdoors in hot weather.

Read More
labor-supply-and-quality

March 27, 2017

Your Help is Needed to Save H-2B Returning Worker Exemp…

AmericanHort is leading the charge on this effort, but you can also help by contacting your elected officials via phone calls and social media, or by sending AmericanHort your personal story.

Read More
epa-wps-guide-feature-image

January 2, 2017

How Do You Comply With the New Worker Protection Standa…

EPA, in conjunction with the Pesticide Educational Resources Collaborative, has provided a guide to help users of agricultural pesticides comply with the requirements of the 2015 revised federal Worker Protection Standard.

Read More
Workers are required to wear uniforms and use tools restricted to the section of the facility where they work, and street clothes are prohibited

December 16, 2016

House Failure To Address H-2B Exemption Could Affect Sp…

Despite efforts by AmericanHort and others in the industry, the House of Representatives failed to renew the Returning Worker Exemption, a policy that helps ensure that small and seasonal businesses have an adequate workforce for the peak spring season.

Read More
bailey-nurseries-veterans-workforce

December 13, 2016

How Bailey Nurseries Navigates The H-2A Program

Joe Bailey, Human Resources Director at Bailey Nurseries says each operation has to analyze their situation and decide for themselves if the H-2A program is right for them.

Read More
bailey-nurseries-team-feature

December 5, 2016

How Bailey Nurseries Has Found Solutions To The Labor S…

A changing seasonal workforce led this Minnesota-based company to explore new labor sources through the H-2A program and refugee organizations, and it’s working out for the better.

Read More
american-floral-endowment-horticulture-careers-video

October 26, 2016

New American Floral Endowment Video Creates Awareness A…

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) has created a video to promote careers in floriculture and horticulture and to inform students about AFE scholarship and internship programs.

Read More
worker-protection-standard

October 25, 2016

EPA’s Worker Protection Changes To Take Effect In Janua…

The EPA has made a significant number of changes to the Worker Protection Standard, and growers must be compliant by January 2017. Experts from Michigan State University Extension outline how some of these changes could affect you.

Read More
young-professionals

October 25, 2016

AFE Develops Employer Resource Guide For Floral Interns…

The guide was created to help greenhouse and floral companies build a successful internship program, with easy-to-use guidelines and steps to create meaningful learning experiences for the next generation of business leaders.

Read More
EuroAmerican Propagators Greenhouses

October 4, 2016

The New Realities Of Labor Broached At AmericanHort’s 2…

During a labor presentation given at AmericanHort’s 2016 Plug & Cutting Conference, three industry players give their take on the current labor crisis and offer solutions to address the growing challenges.

Read More
Employees separate the plants by stem count, bud development and height. “This process allows us to respond more quickly to specific requests from customers,” Van Wingerden says

September 22, 2016

AmericanHort Hosting Webinar On Overtime Rule Complianc…

The webinar takes place on Thursday, Sept. 29. AmericanHort is also throwing its support behind the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act.

Read More
Workers

September 20, 2016

How California’s New Overtime Law Will Affect Greenhous…

Some growers say they will have to make hard decisions about worker benefits or the crops they grow. One thing is certain: the need to automate is now more critical than ever.

Read More
Workers at Golden State Bulb Growers clean Calla tubers and select the best quality bulbs, placing them on conveyors to be graded, counted and sorted in the new system

September 13, 2016

Newly Signed California Law Expands Overtime To Farmwor…

The new law, which will be phased in beginning in 2019, is the first of its kind in the nation to end the 80-year-old practice of applying separate labor rules to agricultural laborers.

Read More
Workers at The Farm at Green Village

September 10, 2016

Now Is The Best Time To Demand Federal H-2B Program Sup…

Congress is expected to pass a continuing resolution spending bill in the near future, and whether or not that measure includes an H-2B returning worker exemption could impact your labor supply for 2017.

Read More