Assessing factors influencing energy use and profitability of greenhouse operations in Tennessee

Krisden Ingram, Tennessee State University


The greenhouse industry is an important sub-sector of agriculture. On average, greenhouse and nursery farms in the U.S. have 56.70% more cash receipts than all farms (Muhammed, 2000). This number increases to 307% for the state of Tennessee. Over the years some greenhouse operations in Tennessee have declined. The goal of this study is to acquire a better understanding of energy use by greenhouse businesses in Tennessee. It has the following objectives: 1) to characterize current energy use by Greenhouse businesses in Tennessee 2) to examine consideration of alternative sources of energy by Greenhouse businesses, and 3) to assess the effect of energy cost on profitability of Greenhouse businesses in the State. The latest database containing greenhouse businesses was provided by the State Department of Agriculture. Two hundred seventy nine certified businesses were listed. A survey was sent by mail to all. In addition to energy related issues the survey covered other aspects such as marketing and skill needs of the businesses. The respondents were mixed in terms of size of their operations, education and income levels. Out of the 279 sent out, 56 completed surveys were received representing approximately 20% response rate. The data was analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software. Correlation and chi-square tests were done using different variables. Results show profitability of greenhouse operations is influenced by the rising energy cost, economic downturn and size of the operation. The growers were found to be open to consider alternative energy saving methods. It was found that interest in adoption of alternative energy sources is influenced by income level and age of growers. The study shows the need to assist the growers in learning more about alternative energy saving methods and technologies. The study is expected to be beneficial not only for greenhouse businesses but also other stakeholders including policy makers and those working with growers. Other researchers can also undertake similar study using the approach used here with appropriate modification.

Subject Area

Agronomy|Marketing|Food Science

Recommended Citation

Krisden Ingram, "Assessing factors influencing energy use and profitability of greenhouse operations in Tennessee" (2014). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI1557727.