Sustainable and safe greenhouse crop production

Ohio’s production of crops grown under controlled environments (CE), i.e. greenhouses and plant factories, is growing. From 2012 to 2017, floriculture and bedding crop production increased by 12%, based on square footage. During the same period, the area allocated for greenhouse production of vegetables, herbs and tomatoes increased about 4-fold, with total sales of about $75 million in 2017.

By Mary Wicks and Peter Ling

Like any other crop, those grown in CE require careful management to maintain plant health and maximize yields. Unlike field crops, CE production allows for control of growing conditions. Understanding how to manipulate climatic factors, such as temperature, humidity and lighting, as well methods to manage pests, can optimize plant growth while minimizing negative environmental impacts.

For CE production of vegetable crops, eliminating the risk of foodborne pathogens is also critical. The National Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Program provides training and resources to educate growers about methods of growing, storing and transporting food crops that protect consumers. By learning more about the fundamentals of controlling all aspects of crop production, a grower can improve the economic and environmental sustainability of the business.

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