Nursery Management Conference: Leap into the future
Amy Fulcher and Anthony LeBude present their findings to the Nursery Management Conference, Sept. 16, 2021.
Matt McClellan

Nursery Management Conference: Leap into the future

Researchers share the factors that are most likely to convince growers to adopt automation.

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September 29, 2021

Editor’s note: The Nursery Management Conference took place Sept. 14-16 in Arlington, Texas. Over the last week, we’ve been giving you a glimpse of what you missed if you didn’t attend.

On Sept. 16, the Nursery Management Conference wrapped up with a presentation and roundtable discussion on automation, led by Amy Fulcher, extension specialist and associate professor at the University of Tennessee and Anthony LeBude, research and extension associate professor at North Carolina State University. The pair of professors are members of LEAP (Labor, Efficiency, Automation and Production) for Nursery Sustainability, a group of faculty from six universities and the USDA-ARS that is conducting research about nursery labor challenges. They shared some of their research into nurseries consideration of, and transition to, automation.

For instance, they found five “persuasion factors” considered during before adopting automation: relative advantage (is it better than what we already have?), compatibility (does it fit with existing equipment/practices?), complexity (how tough is it to use?), observability (are the results visible?) and trialability (can it be tested?).  The most important factors according to analysis of their survey were relative advantage and observability. Growers have strong perceptions on whether or not they can see it working and if it will save them money or labor compared to the way they are doing it right now.

Learn more about LEAP in our March 2021 feature story.

Visit our website for more from the 2021 Nursery Management Conference.