July 12 2021 07:48 AM

Seminars will also discuss automation opportunities in the nursery industry.

The 2021 Farwest Show, set for Aug. 18-20 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon, has scheduled three seminars focused on labor and automation in the nursery industry.

These sessions will help business owners and executive-level mangers make informed decisions about corporate investments in labor and technology. Attendees of Farwest can use the information to determine the right balance between physical labor and automation for their unique operations.

All three sessions will take place August 19. Anthony LeBude, associate professor of nursery crops and extension research at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, will present “LEAP into Sustainable Automation” from 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. From 9:45 – 10:45 a.m., Canby, Oregon-based Terra Nova Nurseries grower consultant Dan Heims will present “Hortitechnology: New Tools for Horticulture.” Later in the day, Lacey, Washington-based wafla Visa Division Director Ryan Ogburn will present “H-2A for Oregon: Overcoming the Hurdles” from 2:30–3:30 p.m.

LeBude’s presentation will explain the national research project LEAP, which stands for Labor, Efficiency, Automation and Production. Led by Amy Fulcher at the University of Tennessee, the project is a partnership between several researchers across multiple states to address challenges and opportunities for automation in the green industry. The main objective is to help uncover inefficient practices in nursery production and help uncover potential solutions through existing, nascent, and yet-to-be identified automation and related technologies.

Heims will deliver an overview of the advancement of technology in horticulture based on his near 50-year career in the green industry. From the advent of irrigation pipe to LED grow lights, nursery technology is evolving quickly and growers who adapt are the most likely to thrive going forward. Heims will give his opinions on technological advancements such as tissue culture, mechanization and the movement of horticulture into the 21st century.

Ogburn’s session is all about navigating the H-2A temporary agricultural employment program to address labor shortages in the nursery industry. Specifically honing in on Oregon nurseries, this session will help business owners find solutions to their biggest challenges with the labor program, such as securing affordable housing and maintaining a positive working relationship with the Oregon Employment Department. Although this session is focused specifically on H-2A for Oregon growers, Ryan has experience in assisting nurseries across Oregon, Washington and Idaho utilize H-2A and H-2B visas to meet the demand for skilled labor in the nursery industry.

Registration for the sessions is required. Registration is available at the Farwest Show website. Complete details on events, daily schedules, speakers, and education for Farwest can be found online.