Greenhouse Canada

Features Energy Management
Video podcasts focus on sustainability measures

March 16, 2012  By Dave Harrison

Nov. 2, 2011 — Those growers who think that investments in sustainability techniques and technologies are merely a drain on the bottom line should make time to view a new series of video podcasts.

The series, live on, features Michigan State University’s Dr. Erik Runkle interviewing greenhouse growers in the U.S. and the Netherlands on their sustainable practices.

In dozens of candid conversations shot on location in greenhouses, labs and garden centres, Runkle delves into the various ways the trade is investing in sustainable solutions to increase productivity and profitability, with a sharp eye on return on investment.


Among those interviewed was David Arkell, president and CEO of 360 Energy, based in Burlington, Ontario.

“We talked to a lot of people and asked tough questions,” said Runkle. “We discussed cutting-edge approaches like geothermal heating systems and solar panels for electricity, which in some cases are only economical with government subsidies. We also looked at smart, common-sense solutions like the grower who borrowed technology from the tropical fish industry to keep orchid shipments at optimal temperatures. In many situations, the return on investment for even very expensive conversions was surprisingly reasonable.”


The project interviewed more than 20 greenhouse growers and industry experts who share their experiences and insights in a series of more than 40 video podcasts. The interviews explore major issues in sustainability today, including energy, lighting, water, automation, pest control, logistics and profitability.

Additionally, the team sought answers to questions about sustainable practices posed by American trade journalists Ellen Wells of Green Profit, Tim Hodson of Greenhouse Product News, and Kevin Yanik of Greenhouse Grower.

The podcast series has been posted to and also on the project’s YouTube channel,

The production team was led by MSU associate professor Erik Runkle and Dutch advisor agricultural affairs Caroline Feitel of the Royal Netherlands Embassy, Washington, D.C. Interviews were conducted in July and August with U.S. and Dutch greenhouse growers and other professionals on location at OFA Short Course in Columbus and Oberlin, Ohio and throughout the Netherlands.


The video podcast project was conceived by agricultural counsellor Martin Olde Monnikhof of the Royal Netherlands Embassy, Washington, D.C. and produced as a joint project by his office, the Horticulture Department of Michigan State University, and the Dutch Ministry of Economics, Agriculture and Innovation.

The Sustainability Initiative team is comprised of Martin Olde Monnikhof, Erik Runkle, Caroline Feitel, and Sally Ferguson and David Caras of Ferguson Caras LLC, Danby, VT.

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