Production Technology Conference Focused on Education

Tom Ferndandez RFIDAmericanHort’s Production Technology Conference is right around the corner. The event, for which Greenhouse Grower TECHNOLOGY is the official media partner, kicks off in Dallas, TX, on Monday, Oct. 9, with a tour of three local hot spots for production and product development. From there, the event includes two days of educational sessions led by industry experts, academic researchers, and growers who have dug deep into the world of automation and technology. Key exhibitors will also be present in an on-site trade show to discuss solutions that can help your business grow.

Here’s a look at just a few of the items on the conference schedule, as well as other details. For the most up-to-date information on educational sessions and exhibitors, go to AmericanHort.org/events.

Technology in Action Tour

On October 9, see technology in action at some of the premier businesses in the industry. Learn how the same technology can be applied in different ways for results that match individual business goals and needs.

Hort Americas Greenhouse
The Hort Americas Greenhouse is engaged in active research and demonstration of what it takes to economically grow leafy greens and herbs. You’ll see five different production systems:
• Capillary mat systems
• Deep water culture floating raft systems
• Nutrient film technique (NFT) systems
• Hydroponic tower systems
• Grow racks
At Hort Americas, you can also learn the story behind how it retrofitted a traditional floriculture crop facility to become a leafy green production outfit. See the modifications, equipment, labor, and financial inputs required to pull this off.

Seville Farms
Seville Farms is consistently listed as a Greenhouse Grower Top 100 Grower. This large-scale production facility specializes in annuals, perennials, and ground covers, and supplies both box stores and independent retailers. Seville Farms prides itself on implementation of lean flow practices. Here, you’ll get an in-depth look at:
• Implementation of lean flow principles that can help any company work with greater efficiency and effectiveness
• Innovative irrigation solutions
• Real-life lighting applications that make sense
• Control systems and how to use them to their maximum advantage.

Southwest Nursery
Southwest Nursery has evolved over its 77-year history. It first began as a retail facility and transitioned into being wholesale-only as its expertise and renown in growing grew. Self-sufficiency and innovation have been mainstays in this business that employs about 100 people and services within a 300-mile radius. You’ll get excited learning about:
• Its mobile app, which is used to connect with customers on availability, orders, shipments, and pick-ups
• Its color-rotation program, which allows for year-round production
• The use of technology to limit plant handling and improve overall plant health
• Irrigation innovations that allow Seville to control its water supply
• Shipping techniques that involve a cutting-edge racking system for quicker turnarounds and on-time deliveries.

20 Tech Trends in 20 Minutes

Greenhouse Grower TECHNOLOGY Editor Brian Sparks highlights the major technology trends shaping the greenhouse industry, including data from Greenhouse Grower’s State of the Industry and Top 100 Growers surveys, as well as input from growers and industry suppliers from across the country.

Forecast and Replenishment Systems at Calloway’s Nursery

Calloway’s has the ability to order for each of its stores based off the store’s specific sales history, analyze data for the last several years to plan the next six months, and track every dollar and potted plant in its inventory. Rebecca Weller, the Corporate Bedding Plant Buyer for Calloway’s, will show how they do it.

Fine-Tuning Your Heating and Cooling System

There are many moving parts in any greenhouse, and learning the ins and outs of cooling systems or how you can ventilate your greenhouse naturally will help you keep those systems in good working order. Tom Manning of the Department of Plant Biology and Pathology at Rutgers University suggests several things to keep in mind when setting up your cooling and ventilation systems.

Sensing the Future of Spray Technology

Technological advancements led by the USDA Agricultural Research Service have made it possible to re-envision sprayers and create much more precise, safe, and efficient spraying systems. Amy Fulcher will discuss how laser-guided sprayers have the potential to revolutionize pest management by dramatically reducing pesticide costs and worker exposure, and limiting drift. Trials of prototype intelligent sprayers and traditional sprayers retrofitted with laser-sensing systems will be featured. Learn how laser-guided sprayers can accurately apply pesticides only to the intended plants.

Advice and Examples From a Top 100 Grower

Mark Yelanich of Metrolina Greenhouses will offer two presentations on how his company is effectively incorporating new technology.
• From sticking machines to spacing robots, learn how technology has helped Metrolina reduce labor. See what Metrolina has implemented over the last 10 years and see what the future holds for innovation
and automation.
• Learn how Metrolina employs water retention. From water runoff collection to aeration, to pumping ozone in to its water, learn how Metrolina relies on 99% reclaimed and reused water.

New Panel Discussion: “Navigating Software Solutions — Finding the Right Software for Your Business”

Are you looking to purchase software for your company, but don’t know where to start? Do you have a unique problem and need a software solution? There are many software providers, applications, and tools to choose from. Where do you start? If you are feeling overwhelmed, attend this session to gain a better understanding of today’s software solutions for growers. Speakers from SBI Software and Practical Software Solutions will discuss software applications that are customized to work with small, medium, and large growers. They will be covering tools that help growers decrease costs, simplify the process, and enable them to produce more with the same size team. Learn about mobile tools, and software solutions that support rack kitting, production management, order fulfillment, inventory control, live availability, and much more. Have your questions ready, as the panel of software experts will be ready to answer any questions specific to your software needs.

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