CROP DOMINATED DECISION-MAKING FOR GREENHOUSE DESIGN
The potting operation, the growing system, the environmental control system, the structure and the management procedures are inter-related with a sole combined purpose to promote the crop growth. The design or alteration of such a complex series of components must be performed with the crop and the interdependencies among systems in mind. Most greenhouse design does not have the freedom and luxury of beginning anew. In fact most can be categorized as retrofits which are limited by existing physical constraints. However even in such cases, the need for an overall solution plan which considers future alterations is valuable.
Planning for the future is always beneficial since the greenhouse business is always undergoing change. Expansion or alteration of the production area, introduction of new crop varieties and the constant consideration of the relative mix of crop species are several of the grower responses to the market demands.
Labor costs will continue to dominate the operating expense sheet of the grower. At present labor rivals energy costs and will always remain within the same order of magnitude. Growing space is typically at a premium and new construction ranges from 50 to 100 $ m-2. Effective utilization of both the labor and the production space can realise significant savings in operating expenses. While it is clear that the unit production energy cost will diminish as productivity per unit area increases.
Investment into devices and systems can be justified by an expected improvement of labor effectiveness. The productivity of any employee is a function of many factors (primarily their internal fortitude), but effectiveness, attitude, interest, and job satisfaction can all be positively reinforced by the working environment. The particular management approach, the equipment and work aids available and especially the ability of these systems to perform the required tasks without failure or difficulty are all factors which can directly influence the overall productivity. Greenhouse production systems constructed with every good intention but that could not expand with future plans or that were ill-designed for the situation can indirectly limit the efforts of even the best grower.
Planning prior to construction or upgrade of a facility is critical to its success. Planning with crop dominated decision-making