The top three concerns on greenhouse growers’ minds are labor availability, profitability and competition. Labor is the greatest cost for greenhouse businesses, usually followed by energy costs. According to the most recent floriculture and nursery survey by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) in 2015, heating costs are an average of $36,500 per business using natural gas in Michigan. In greenhouses with over 100,000 square feet of production space, the mean heating cost was $177,000. In addition, 72 percent of Michigan greenhouses with over 100,000 square feet of production space use high-intensity supplemental lighting from high-pressure sodium lamps.
There are numerous energy conservation strategies already being utilized by Michigan greenhouse businesses including: 1) reducing air leaks (60 percent); 2) managing temperatures based on crop and finish date (48 percent); and 3) using horizontal air flow fans (40 percent). Generally, the larger the greenhouse operation, the greater the implementation of energy saving techniques.
Read more at Michigan State University (Heidi Lindberg, Erik Runkle and M. Charles Gould)