Resource management in commercial greenhouse production

Horticulture, including the greenhouse industry, is vibrant and economically important. For example, in 2009, specialty crops were valued at $11.7 billion dollars according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Greenhouses allow specialty crop growers to grow in adverse climates and extend the growing season, which is particularly important in northern areas of the United States. One challenge, though, for greenhouse growers, is managing the resources needed to manage intensive production in these structures. More energy is needed is needed in the greenhouse compared with growing in the field, and it can be challenging to manage water and nutrient resources. The goal of this research is to find techniques to assist growers in managing resources in greenhouses sustainably. Specifically, in Maine, our goal is to assist growers in managing water in greenhouses sustainably. We will do this in two separate ways. First, we will help growers determine crop specific water guidelines which will help them to manage water in greenhouses which are typically filled with diverse species that have very different water needs. Second, we will help plant propagators in greenhouses reduce water consumption by developing a new propagation system that uses leaf wetness sensors to turn propagation systems on and off. This will not only save water, but should also improve the quality of cuttings by allowing growers to better control water in propagation.

Investigator: Burnett, S.

Unit: School of Food and Agriculture

Termination Date: 30-Sep-18