Skip to main content

Tag: IPM

What’s Important in Your Growing Operation

Take one step into any indoor agriculture convention or expo and you will immediately see how the industry has transformed over the past several decades. With new products and devices that claim to solve each and every problem you may have, from drones running your IPM to AI software managing climate controls, the options and solutions can seem to be endless. As a new grower or even a seasoned grower, how can you make the best decision on what to invest in, or what to avoid? What trends should you buy into and what trends are just that, trends? Who can you trust when it comes to the advice you get from sellers, vendors and manufacturers? While there may be no straight forward answer to those questions there are some key concepts to help you navigate through making those decisions.

Know Your Partners

First and foremost, know your partners! Create lasting partnerships with service providers and brands that you trust, as they will be pivotal to prolonged success. CropKing has been in the controlled environment agriculture industry for 40+ years, developing hydroponic systems, manufacturing greenhouses and advising our customers as they build their operations. Be diligent when creating relationships with the companies you work with. Ask questions, look for reviews or references and examine their history. You want to know they have your best interests in mind, are reliable, have a good reputation in the industry, and aren’t going to sell you something and then disappear. While every good salesperson’s job is to sell you something, a great salesperson will only sell you what you need.

Know What You Don’t Know

It’s easy to be sold a product or technology that you don’t need if you don’t have enough knowledge about the topic. If you’re looking into a new fertilizer program, brush up on your water chemistry skills. It may be beneficial to attend plant nutrition courses which can often be found online from reputable sources. Reach out to your product suppliers or manufactures and ask if they offer onsite training or troubleshooting. If you’re looking into a new technology, ask for references. Visit the facility if possible and get firsthand feedback from other growers.

Keep in mind if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. In the digital age there are countless companies out there with flashy advertising, well put together websites and promotional marketing, and while that can often be a sign of a reputable company it isn’t necessarily always the case. Experience, proven track record and integrity are the cornerstones of a fruitful working relationship. There is no magic elixir or elite piece of equipment that will guarantee your plants success. Don’t be afraid to ask hard hitting questions of your sales representatives. If they cite studies or provide performance numbers, ask to see the data. Check if the information has been verified by third party testing. Ask about the mainstream view on the product or service and finally ask yourself if the product is the best option for your situation. For example, running supplemental CO2 can have dramatic positive effects on the health and growth rates of your plants, so fitting your environment with CO2 can be a great idea. However not every case is the same, for a sealed indoor grow facility CO2 can be a great option, for a greenhouse that exchanges fresh air every few minutes CO2 is not very effective at all.

When talking to experts, look for someone with a track record of success in controlled environment agriculture. Not every project is the same, not every need is the same, and not every solution is the same. At the end of the day the number one driving factor in what you invest in will lie in the specifics of your operation. Does a 5,000 sqft greenhouse need an IPM drone? No. For a greenhouse of that size, IPM is best done with a skilled worker that is well-trained and efficient with the task at hand. A much larger operation with acres of field crops to monitor may find the use of a drone more practical. Keep in mind what you may gain in speed and convenience, you may lack in quality or precision. All these factors must be weighed out. Should a five-acre greenhouse be watering by hand? Again, the answer is most likely no. In some cases, your improvements may lead to both financial savings and better quality and precision. Hand watering 20,000 plants every day is not only a large labor draw, but it also leaves room for inconsistencies and errors. Switching to an automated fertigation system is almost always a better option. Your labor can be decreased by as much as 90%, along with water savings and overall better control of your fertigation and plant health.

Consider Efficiency

Lowering the cost of production is one of the goals of efficiency. This can be a result of lowering labor costs, decreasing energy bills, or increasing yields and lowering water usage. If you’re looking for efficiency, carefully consider each scenario with thought and foresight. If a $20k climate control unit can save you 30% on your annual heating costs, is it worth it? The short answer is that It depends on your heating costs. Is a $400/gallon nutrient additive that gains you 3% increase in yield worth it? Again, it depends on what that 3% of extra yield is worth minus any additional labor or inputs to apply the product. While this seems intuitive, you only need to look at the recent rash of closures and bankruptcies to see that it maybe isn’t as intuitive as it seems. Efficient and profitable growing operations get by with as little as they need to accomplish what they want. This is done to save money, but also to remain simple in operation. A simple process is one way to decrease labor costs, and it is also easy to replicate and train on.

One of the biggest mistakes a grower can make is to implement too many changes at once. A reputable industry partner will assist you in developing that plan, bringing their experience to help you avoid costly mistakes or over-investment. For example, you may not want to implement a new fertilizer program at the same time as a new lighting schedule goes into effect. You may see a positive move from your crop, but you also lose the ability to know which had more impact, the fertilizer or lighting schedule. Same goes for plant nutrition. If you apply four different foliar sprays, how will you know which one was more effective? Proper data should always be collected when any new changes take place.

By building relationships with experienced industry companies and service providers, you can avoid the pitfalls of business that result in closures, bankruptcies and even lawsuits. A reputable partner like CropKing will help you identify the technologies, growing systems, and structures that will fit your needs and goals, while also helping you weed through the trendy companies with no staying potential.


Paul Brentlinger is a second generation owner of CropKing Inc and has 20+ years of experience working with controlled environment agriculture growers all over the world.He has studied best-of-breed controlled environment and hydroponic practices across the globe to apply the most efficient and cost-effective practices into optimal systems for CropKing customers.Paul leads the CropKing teams in consulting, sales and management, providing solutions for growers in the produce & cannabis spaces.

Koppert New Branding : Inspired By Nature

Indoor Ag-Con 2022 Exhibitor Koppert is pleased  to present its  new logo and branding! Koppert has grown and evolved tremendously since it was  founded. Therefore, after 30 years it was time for an update, a branding that matches its ambition and reflects our connection to nature.

‘Our mission to contribute to the health of people and the planet by partnering with nature has led us to where we are today: a solid purpose-driven organization with strong core values. Our new branding reflects that mission and values. This will ensure that what we stand for is reflected consistently in how we communicate,’ says Chief Strategy Officer (CSO), Peter Maes.

With offices in thirty countries, our solutions are being used in 100 countries all over the world. Over the years, othe  family company has evolved from a pioneering concern with four employees into a global market leader. According to Martin Koppert, Chief Business Officer (CBO), it was time the branding evolves as well: ‘To make our world more sustainable, we need ways of growing that are both safe and healthy. Our goal is 100% sustainable agriculture. We work together with growers and farmers towards this goal. Our new branding will ensure a powerful image across all global markets and confirms Koppert’s unique dedication and commitment in providing a comprehensive range of biological solutions in a wide range of crops.’

‘We aim to collaborate and co-create with partners in pursuit of our mission. We believe this branding will open a world of opportunities, connecting customers and partners who are willing to contribute to a better world,’ adds Maes. ‘We are convinced that we can be part of the solution, in which we offer our knowledge, expertise, and products to produce healthy food in the most sustainable manner.’

The new branding shows our connection with nature. ‘Nature is where we draw all of our inspiration from, where our solutions find their origin. Obviously, our new identity is rooted in nature,’ says Maes. The Koppert ‘K’ is designed to aim forward: always looking ahead for new sustainable solutions. In addition, the symmetry symbolises the equal importance of plant protection above and underground. The natural shapes and colours of the new Koppert brand express the connectivity with nature, and the unlimited solutions which can be found in it.