As more and more people are turning to their electronic devices for information, the easier it’s becoming to share it. In this ever-evolving industry, there are several apps and websites that can help you be in the know with many aspects of your operation. Here are a few resources to add to your device’s home screen:
Area of expertise: Disease and pest management/IPM
Resource: Greenhouse Scout
This app for iPhone and Android includes a summary of information on biocontrol of common greenhouse insect pests as well as an interactive interface for collecting, organizing and presenting the scouting data and product application for insect management.
Find it: Search “Greenhouse Scout” on Google Play or iTunes
Area of expertise: Mixing
Resource: Mix Tank
Precision Laboratories has designed an app for iPhone and Android to assist agricultural chemical applicators with the proper tank mixing order, provide mixing precautions and maintain accurate spray log records. Users can receive recommendations on mixing in order based on the product selected. GPS logs and spray logs are also part of the record-keeping functions.
Area of expertise: Growing information and crop culture
Resource: gro getter
Ball Seed has made an app available to growers that provides photos of thousands of different plant varieties, as well as the latest introductions from top breeders. It also includes culture information in easily digestible summaries, and allows you to save your favorites for future reference.
The University of California Cooperative Extension has developed an app for Agricultural Water Quality Research and Education, which covers best management practices (BMPs) that can be utilized to minimize the impact of agriculture on water quality. A self-assessment will help you see where you stand on your operation’s impact on water quality, and you can also peruse through suggestions for BMPs that can help solve your water quality problems.
Find it: (iPad only) Search iTunes for Agricultural Water Quality Self-Assessment
A portion of this research was conducted by Juang-Horng “JC” Chong, Ph.D.
A new initiative aimed at boosting horticulture production, quality and exports has been launched by the National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB) and sector stakeholders in Rwanda.
The Rwanda Horticulture Working Group also seeks to attract more private investments into horticulture industry, as well as stimulate dialogue among stakeholders, said George William Kayonga, NAEB chief executive officer.
According to Kayonga, the group will provide a platform to promote more public-private sector partnerships in the sector to help expand the country's horticultural sector.
When crops get thirsty, they get hot. Scientists can use canopy temperatures to determine if crops are water stressed. An Agricultural Research Service engineer in Colorado has found a way to simplify this process for farmers. The goal is to manage irrigation water more effectively in an area where saving water has become a top priority.
A key to Kendall DeJonge’s research in Fort Collins is the use of infrared radiometric thermometers (IRT), affordable sensors that can determine the crop canopy temperature, and subsequently whether a crop is water-stressed. IRTs can be placed on field posts or center pivot irrigation systems to gather hourly or daily temperature readings on crops. Scientists interpret the IRT data by using one of several indices, including the commonly used Crop Water Stress Index (CWSI). Developed by ARS scientists in the early 1980s, the CWSI requires knowing air temperatures and humidity levels to calculate a “vapor pressure deficit,” in addition to knowing the canopy temperature. The process is fairly technical and requires additional measurements, so many farmers in Colorado instead just “guesstimate” when irrigation is needed. In some cases, farmers will either overirrigate and waste water or underirrigate and reduce yields. Providing farmers with a simple yet effective method of monitoring crop water needs is key.
Envision a 15,000-square-foot greenhouse with an automated robot that spans its 52-foot width, sliding back and forth on tracks to water vegetables and till soil to prevent weeds.
That vision will soon be a reality for Agbotic Inc. of Potsdam, a startup business that has been testing a prototype of such a robot for about a year at a farm on County Route 75 in the town of Hounsfield.
Workers began building the large robotic greenhouse earlier this month and plan to have it operational by September, said John P. Gaus of Potsdam, who launched Agbotic last year.
Mr. Gaus said he believes the robotic greenhouses — about $350,000 to build — will be especially popular among farmers in the north country. They have an economic model that will “help farmers make cash” by growing organic vegetables Agbotic would find markets in the north country and Northeast metropolitan markets. He said the technology is expected to be popular across the country and globe.
Hundreds of independent garden center retailers attended the IGC Show’s second day keynote address on Wednesday, Aug. 19 to learn how to better their businesses, but many got more than they expected when the speech began to include the audience.
Marcus Lemonis, business consultant and host of NBC's 'The Profit,' delivered a keynote address to attendees of the second day of the IGC Show at Navy Pier in Chicago.
Leveraging years of experience investing in and transforming failing businesses, corporate consultant and television personality Marcus Lemonis, host of NBC’s “The Profit,” brought his expertise to the horticulture field with a keynote presentation during the second day of the IGC Show in Chicago.
Lemonis shared details of his background in retail, entrepreneurship and administration and urged attendees to forge personal connections with customers, suppliers and other important business contacts.
To drive his point home, Lemonis had several members of the audience, most of them IGC owners, stand before the crowd and share their own stories, including personal fears and regrets. One woman, a second-generation owner of a garden center, said she was afraid of the coming years that would make or break her family business.
Lemonis said that when allowing themselves to be vulnerable, business owners foster trust and create lasting, valuable connections.
“It’s important for people to be vulnerable,” Lemonis said. “Vulnerability will create a level of connection that no education can create. The point I wanted to make with that is your level of connection to those people changed in a second. In business, all things being equal … that’s how you win the game.”
During his remarks, Lemonis also encouraged attendees to reinvent both their own lives and their businesses as needed, while staying true to themselves.
“It’s hard to open a business,” Lemonis said. “It’s hard to take the risk. It’s hard to accept the fact that you, possibly, are going to fail. In that process, between the time that you started and today, you’ve reinvented your business philosophy, your story, your store layout, your employees, the way your deal with your customers. You’ve constantly reinvented yourself trying to find that sweet spot. At the end of the day, it really comes down to being comfortable with yourself.”
As central points of his presentation, Lemonis focused on three core components of any successful business: people, product and process. He told the crowd that people, or employees, should come first, even before customers. Lemonis said that staff should know that their employer is always in their corner.
“My business philosophy in life, not just in business, is really centered around people,” Lemonis said. “You can move people in a way that is shocking because they’re willing to follow someone that feels just like them, not someone who feels like they’re up in their office, looking through the glass down at them.”
When it comes to an IGC’s product, Lemonis recommends comprehensive knowledge of what is being marketed and sold.
“Your competition is fierce and they will beat you on data, so you have to know your product,” Lemonis said.
Process, or the way a product is designed, procured and handled, is also a crucial step in Lemonis’ business approach. During the presentation, he encouraged attendees to get familiar with their company’s balance sheet and monitor their daily activity to know what products and processes are or are not working for them.
As he closed his time in front of the keynote audience, Lemonis stressed the importance of investing in beneficial systems, such as inventory management software, that drive gross income. Smart distribution of revenues, maintenance of cash reserves and constant preparation for worst-case scenarios were regular themes throughout the address.
To emphasize the importance of inventory tracking, Lemonis asked for audience members to raise their hands if they did not have one for their business. He asked one man who managed a garden stand to call his father, the garden stand’s owner, when the man said he didn’t know his inventory count.
While on the phone with the man’s father, Lemonis asked for an inventory count and offered to install an inventory management system when the owner also said he didn’t know.
“More often than not, we have businesses that don’t have systems in place because they don’t want to spend the $4,237 dollars to know that they that they have $432,670 of inventory,” Lemonis said.