Technology Is Changing the Game for Growers

Laura Drotleff
Laura Drotleff, Editor, Greenhouse Grower

Technology is sexy. There’s a fervor associated with buying the latest go-go-gadget — and a fear of missing out if we don’t. We all want that latest, most advanced smartphone, home assistant, or wearable tech, no matter the cost. And jobs associated with technology? Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter — offer some of the most competitive and coveted positions on the planet. Just look at the stir Amazon made when it announced it would build a $50 billion second headquarters, with cities from all over North America clamoring to be the one chosen, considering the significant economic potential. Technology and tech jobs are it — and it’s no wonder growers don’t feel jobs in horticulture can compete.

But what if they can? If tech jobs are the future and the future of horticulture depends on technology, then we have a real opportunity to seize. Millennials who have grown up digital, not to mention the Gen Z kids we’re raising now who pore over YouTube and have never known a day without a screen, live and breathe technology. Add to that the Millennials’ desire to make a difference in the careers they seek, and horticulture is the ideal venue as we adopt more automation to combat our biggest struggle — labor.

A good example of young technology entrepreneurs who have been moved to make a difference in horticulture can be found in Adam Greenberg, 27, the CEO of iUNU, and Huxley Founder Ryan Hooks, 32 (who you’ll meet in a future article). Their respective teams have been working to develop game-changing solutions in artificial intelligence and augmented reality technology to help address real issues in horticulture, like our current labor crisis, the shortage of four-year educated growers in the market, and the ability for greenhouses to help solve the global food crisis as our population grows.

This technology, as well as some other market conditions we’ve noticed over the past year, have shown us that the game of horticulture is changing rapidly, and we feel as though we are truly on the brink of massive, unstoppable revolution. That’s why in this issue, we are launching our Gamechangers Initiative — an ongoing series of articles, media, and events that will examine epic trends in the market that have changed the course of our industry over time, and monitor new innovations being developed now, of which we all need to be aware.

That’s where we need your help. When you think back over the past decade or more, what have been some of the biggest advancements in the horticulture industry that have changed the game decidedly? With so many facets of our industry and such a number of internal and external influences, from production techniques to growing equipment to the way plants are marketed at retail to the end consumer, I’m sure you can think of several examples of people, plants, and products that have made a difference in the way we do business. We want to know what you think are the ones that have been the most powerful, mind-bending, epic gamechangers that have disrupted the market so thoroughly that they have practically set your hair on fire and made you rethink everything.

Please send me a note at [email protected], to tell me what have been the biggest change agents of horticulture from your point of view, and nominate them as Greenhouse Grower Gamechangers.

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