The Economy of Efficiency. It occurred to me how obvious this statement was after Scott Zeramby of Mendocino Agriculture, www.mendoag.com, mentioned it to me. The easiest way to maximize profits is by lowering overhead. The easiest way to lower overhead is to make your equipment and systems as efficient as possible. Historically, this process has been skipped by many in the industry due to the large margins that people used to make. Back then the only real reason for people to become extremely efficient was because they were concerned about their impact on their surroundings and their carbon footprint. In today’s market efficiency is extremely important in determining a farmer, or company’s, bottom line and in most cases these days can mean the difference between a profit, breaking even or bankruptcy.
I was prompted to write this after reading the headlines the other day explaining how shops in Washington were facing a glut in their inventory and people were dropping their prices to move their products causing a big scare due to the high costs of production, taxes, and a small profit margin. Regardless of all the variables that go into this including current regulatory policies, implemented taxes and other available avenues that are not regulated nor taxed I saw one simple solution. Lower your overhead!
Environmentalists like this idea because it also reduces carbon footprints and investors like this idea because it means higher profits and the ability to stay in business and expand. The most obvious way to become more efficient in this industry is to grow under the Sun. Sun grown plants are more vigorous than plants grown under lights and they also are more resistant to disease. There is no other industry in the world that exists in a fully indoor grown environment. Now that laws are in place and public sentiment has relaxed there is no reason to hide your plants indoors.
Any farmer with a business plan based on an emphasis of indoor growth is coming from an era that did not allow for efficient cultivation. Within a greenhouse it is possible to supplement light and heat and grow year round just like you would inside of a warehouse. There are many styles and brands of lighting these days that focus on efficiency. Though I am not here to suggest which light is the most effective and efficient I can tell you that there are a lot on the market with this concern in mind.
Forever Flowering’s structures come with built in light meters to turn your lights on and off when natural lighting is not meeting the required light levels. Other systems are available and being developed to take this approach one step further. Built in light meters on each individual light inside a greenhouse allows each unit to adjust it’s light levels to meet preset lighting requirements. This means that different lights within the greenhouse may be illuminated with different light levels.
Radiant heating systems can be purchased that are closed loop systems that heat the parts of the plants that need to be heated most while not using it’s energy to heat unused zones of the structure. Passive cooling and heating system techniques are widespread today and any good consultant can guide you in the direction of how to reduce your inputs. Many a company are sprouting up teaching people how to optimize on-site soils, amend their soils, buy in bulk and
get away from high cost liquid fertilizers and bagged designer soil blends. The answers are out there and the ones that have been ‘in the trenches’ over the past several decades are now being looked at as the experts in the field.
If you don’t know these methodologies yourself be sure to hire a qualified consultant and/or knowledgeable company in the beginning of designing your project. Money spent in the beginning on this guidance with the proper equipment investments and time spent carefully designing your system will equate to business longevity, profits and the ability to stay ahead of the curve and expand as others in the industry struggle to keep their heads above water.