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Sustainable Greenhouse Management

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Principal Investigator/Project Leader: 
Sponsoring Unit(s): 
Project Description: 

According to the USDA New England Agricultural Statistics, nursery and greenhouse production was ranked first among the state's agricultural commodities in 2009 with sales estimated at $168 million. According to a 2007 survey, conducted by the New England Nursery Association there are more than 5,130 firms that are involved in production (nurseries, greenhouses, herbs, cut flowers, turfgrass) retail (garden centers, florists) and landscape services. Forty-six percent of these operations combined these different business elements. The industry consists of wholesale growers and grower retailers, including a rising number of diversified farms that are adding greenhouse crops to their businesses strategies. Plant production is also the basis for many associated horticultural industries such as plant and seed propagators, product suppliers and service industries. These companies together have significant economic and environmental impacts for Massachusetts. Sustainable greenhouse management requires solutions to problems of energy, pest management, trained labor, water quality, production practices and plant nutrition for a diverse range of crops and complex agricultural and environmental issues.

As Massachusetts undergoes cultural, economic and climatic changes, both new and established growers will need to learn to use practices that are economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. The Sustainable Greenhouse Management project will undertake applied research and educational opportunities to address key problems and opportunities facing the industry and the public. Programs on greenhouse crop production, integrated pest management, water and nutrient management, waste management and energy will be delivered through a variety of newsletters, websites and message board, publications, workshops, conferences, training programs, diagnostic services and applied research. Applied research considers organic growing media and fertilizers for ornamental greenhouse crops.

Project or Initiative Report: 
Commercial Horticulture topics: 
Greenhouse Management
Energy topics: 
Renewable Heating and Cooling