At the fall conference of the Resource Innovation Institute*, growers and suppliers familiar with the European Ag market offered their CEA lessons learned and advice that could benefit North American growers. Since European growers have been ahead of their North American colleagues for many years, their experience is especially helpful. As the U.S. market accelerates, their advice included:
- Growers’ biggest problem is where to get natural resources (coal, iron ore, natural gas/oil) since Ukraine is one of the largest producers and resource providers in the world. Alternatives for any resource should always be in the back of your mind.
- Increasing fuel prices and inflation make it difficult to compete. Do not wait for a crisis to think about how to do business in an energy crisis.
- Initiatives are underway to determine how growers will acquire enough water to grow in the next five years. You can’t take for granted that water will always be readily available. Start reclamation and recycling programs to realize gains now.Watch carefully for water solutions.
- Supply chain shortages, post pandemic, are still being felt severely creating major disruptions in the availability of products and parts (widgets to parts to fuel). Sourcing parts especially has been difficult and forced looking at suppliers that they’ve not done business with before. Look for workarounds immediately, do not wait until it gets worse. Be at the front of the line when prices may be lowest. Order and hold if necessary.
- Finally, share information and collaborate with competitors, suppliers, government officials, and industry groups at all levels. Forego managing and operating your business autonomously. Collaboration is a key to a grower’s success as well as the industry.
*RII is the leading not-for-profit energy & water benchmarking organization providing resource efficiency best practices for CEA producers and their project partners.