When it comes to commercial greenhouse management, labor and energy consumption are two of your largest overhead costs. While crop crises like a crop failure or poor yield due to pests or disease can also significantly cut into operating costs, they are often prevented with quality greenhouse management, watchful crop monitoring, and the strict maintenance of a healthy environment for crops. With that in mind, here are 5 tips for commercial greenhouse management, specifically focused on how you can manage labor and energy costs:
#1 Invest Wisely in Labor
Labor is, without question, the largest overhead cost for any commercial greenhouse. It’s important to invest wisely in labor by putting workers where you truly need them most for skilled and complex tasks. If there are solutions you can use — like portable conveyors and greenhouse automation tools — to minimize labor tasks that don’t add value to your commercial greenhouse, it’s worth it to make that investment. You need labor to keep your commercial greenhouse running, but it’s important to allocate those resources where you truly need them most to reduce operating costs.
#2 Install Efficient Lighting
Quality commercial greenhouse management is all about finding the areas where you can reduce energy spend while improving your greenhouse environment for crops. It’s good to know that replacing traditional incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps can offer large paybacks in energy savings.
For areas where crops need high-intensity lighting, such as seedlings and young plants, opt for LED options. These provide the intense spectrum that young plants needs, with a significantly smaller energy consumption rate. LED lights also won’t affect the temperature of your greenhouse, since they don’t get hot even when on for long periods of time. This is a key feature for quality greenhouse management, as the addition of LED bulbs won’t disrupt specific temperature management efforts.
#3 Reduce Air Leakage
Well maintained commercial greenhouses follow a strict temperature management schedule to ensure crops grow quickly. Air leakage can disrupt temperature management in a few ways. First, it can affect the temperature in your commercial greenhouse. If you have cold air seeping in when you need a warm environment, or hot, humid air pouring into a space with cold-loving crops, you’ll see a slow-down in production.
Second, air leaks can have a significant impact on your energy consumption costs. When your greenhouse is leaking air, it has to work harder to achieve specific temperature settings. Since the greenhouse isn’t able to maintain a consistent temperature, due to air leaks, your system is constantly working to reach its ideal temperature settings, outputting significantly more energy than it needs.
Proper commercial greenhouse management calls for regular inspection of doors, windows, and ventilation openings. Install weatherstripping where necessary, and make sure you’re constantly looking for small gaps or holes in your commercial greenhouse’s envelope. Address these air leak openings as soon as possible to ensure you’re not wasting money on excessive energy consumption.
#4 Perform Regular Preventative Maintenance on Mechanical Equipment
Any commercial greenhouse is full of mechanical equipment that you need for everyday functionality. To avoid large and unexpected costs, make sure all commercial greenhouse mechanical equipment is on a regular preventative maintenance schedule.
Routine maintenance helps you avoid unexpected costs, but it’s also a key way to ensure key mechanics like air conditioners, ventilation systems, pumps, heaters, and more are functioning in peak condition. When harvest schedules get tight, it’s easy to neglect preventative maintenance as it falls lower on priority level, but doing so can be costly in the long-run. Keeping all mechanical equipment functioning at its peak is key to reducing energy inefficiencies, and preventing exorbitant emergency repair bills.
#5 Take Advantage of Product, Utility, and Government Incentives
Commercial greenhouses are notorious for their energy consumption. As such, some local, state, and even federal authorities have set up loan and grant programs designed to help commercial greenhouses reduce that consumption by incentivizing energy-efficient investments.
Even if your local government hasn’t created a program to encourage energy-saving investments, there are a number of product and utility rebates available for transitioning to products like CFLs, LEDs, more robust insulation options, high-efficiency appliances, and more. It’s in your best interest to see what rebates and credits are offered by your providers, and the product brands you are purchasing from. Again, energy consumption is one of the largest overhead costs for any commercial greenhouse, so looking for savings when you can is a key component of quality commercial greenhouse management.
There’s a lot that goes into commercial greenhouse management. Beyond measuring the profitability of crops and crop yield, you also have to consider how your operations are affecting your bottom line. We hope these quick tips for commercial greenhouse management help you save this year.
If you’re looking for ways to reduce the cost associated with labor in your commercial greenhouse, you might consider looking into the Rapid-Veyor portable modular conveyor. Reduce non-value-added labor with conveyors that transport crops and material from point A to point B efficiently. Contact our team for more information today.
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