It’s nothing new for greenhouse and nursery professionals to embrace new ways to extend the season, improve the bottom line and meet the demands of an ever-changing market – from drip irrigation and fertigation to high-tech structures and hydroponics.

One of the areas that greenhouses and nurseries have always been ahead of the curve is energy management. For decades, alternative energy in some format has been commonplace in the industry. At its most basic, passive solar from opaque greenhouse covers provides heat and diffused light. Over the years, both solar and wind power have been integrated into renewable energy programs in greenhouse operations of all sizes, as well as biomass heating systems, geothermal systems and more.

It rarely hurts to incorporate energy sources like these into your nursery or greenhouse. Any way that you can help your margins by taking advantage of readily available sources is one you should embrace. It’s a business decision, not a philosophical one.

A few years ago, I spent a week visiting a wide variety of alternative energy programs in Germany. One of the locations we visited was a working farm that doubled as an educational center; it included a full dairy operation and a fairly large greenhouse, amongst other things. The greenhouse was set up to take advantage of solar, wind and biomass in a wholly self-sufficient operation requiring no outside energy for year-round production. It’s not a completely unique operation, certainly, but it drove home to me the importance of taking advantage of what’s around and the opportunities we may be missing.

As technology in these alternative areas improves, will you incorporate more alternative sources of energy? If you’re already using solar or wind, will you be expanding their roles in your operation?

Also, on a side note, we’d like to introduce a new section to our magazine website featuring daily news, industry updates, events and announcements. Point your browser over to, and you’ll be greeted by a brand new section right below the current issue. Let us know what you think!

Bob M. Montgomery