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The Internet of Things (IoT) and Why it Matters to the Horticulture Industry

Posted on: September 28th, 2021

Internet-of-things

When we talk about the Internet of Things (IoT) idea, many growers and garden centers might be wondering how this applies to wholesale growing containers and the horticulture industry.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a fancy way of saying that “things” are connected through Wi-Fi or the internet to exchange data. 

In fact, many of us are already using items classified as IoT. Kitchen appliances, thermostats, baby monitors, cars, and even virtual assistant technologies.

Oracle, the multinational computer technology corporation, says, “In this hyperconnected world, digital systems can record, monitor, and adjust each interaction between connected things. The physical world meets the digital world—and they cooperate.”

Oracle reports there are some 10 billion connected IoT devices today, and experts predict there will be 22 billion by 2025. 

But how, and more importantly, why would the horticulture industry utilize IoT technologies in its operations?

As with most industries, the horticulture industry has faced many challenges during COVID-19, most noticeably with the continual struggle to secure reliable labor. 

AmericanHort, a leading national association for the green industry, says, “Many industry businesses, especially growing and landscape operations, are struggling to find the labor they need to sustain and expand their businesses. Major demographic and lifestyle changes have shaped this reality. Seasonality and the very nature of the work are challenges. Manual labor positions are especially difficult to fill.”  

The utilization of more automation in growing operations, from autonomous irrigation control to the latest precision farming technologies, is no longer a far-off dream but a reality for many growers.

Data collected by the American Society for Horticulture Science concludes that “Greater than 40% of production costs are labor costs, totaling nearly $40 billion per year in the U.S. alone.” The ASHS study goes on to say this regarding automation in greenhouses and nurseries: “Mechanization of an operation can provide mechanical power, speed, repetition, safety, and a greater potential for consistency and quality control.”

Wholesale growing containers, in which many are automation friendly, are a critical part of the growing process that often involves the most significant labor demands. IoT technologies are now being designed and are readily available to help support growers through more autonomous operations.

The Internet of Things has already infiltrated many areas of our lives, and the horticulture industry is not immune to the benefits such technologies will bring.

For more on wholesale growing container automation, click here.

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