Unity within our industry is a huge catalyst for growth so we are committed to expanding our value through strategic partnerships and integrations. Our most recent partnership and integration is with Ball Seed. It will allow growers to receive purchase orders (PO) from Ball Seed, confirm plantings of POs, verify weekly availability and receive shipments all electronically over the Internet.
In the future, more growers will demand from technology the ability to produce better products more efficiently. This is why we believe handhelds and production management software are the future. In a nutshell, handhelds increase inventory visibility while reducing labor and increasing accuracy. Production management software gives growers the ability to manage production based on historical data, not just intuition, which will ultimately help grow better product with less resources.
Another piece of technology on the horizon for us is the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID). With RFID, truckloads of plants can be read all at once to total what the customer is buying. It’s fully functioning in other industries, so once it’s proven as a success we plan to adopt it and make it more practical for our industry in terms of inventory control.
Ultimately, the U.S. should be moving toward some of the innovations that are more common in Europe like RFID. Even the large European infrastructure of high-speed trains allows product and people to transfer faster and cheaper. Greenhouse growers and other types of growers in Europe are on the cutting edge of technology and the U.S. should not only follow their example, but take the lead.
Right now the forward-thinking growers in the industry don’t see technology as an expense, but as an investment that will pay for itself in increased sales, reduced labor and better overall business practices.
Lisa Hattery is marketing manager at SBI Nursery Software.