The Evolution of Technology in Horticulture

Posted on March 06, 2018 by Cassandra Smallman
Horticultural technology


Technology is everywhere ! From the shovel you use to plant a seed to the process in which that seed’s genetics have been altering to resist drought, technology has a long, undeniable history in the horticulture industry. Each innovation has been a response to a particular problem and for horticulture, those problems started with a need to cultivate and grow plants on a sustainable scale.

Technology Revolutions in Horticulture

Looking back, there are several distinct advancements in technology that, whether they originated in agriculture or crossed over from another industry, changed the face of how we grow and harvest. If you’ve been in the industry for more than a few years, you’ll surely think of a few changes you’ve witnessed and perhaps adopted. If your company has been through multiple generations, there’s no doubt that the industry has changed since your ancestors began their trade. So, while technology can often be seen as an intruder, here are a few simple ways it has revolutionized horticulture around the world.

The Tractor

For centuries, plowing fields with a horse or an ox was considered the best way to plant cultivate the land. That changed dramatically when technology offered farms a better way with the tractor.

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”- Henry Ford

The farmers and horticulturalists didn’t know what they were missing until they used a tractor for the first time. The shift from horse to a machine was huge, and like all changes, it was met with some apprehension but over time became an integral part of the industry. Nowadays, tractors are one of the most basic symbols of agriculture and it’s hard to imagine farming of any kind without one. Bringing efficiency and increasing productivity, the tractor remains an icon of innovation and transformation to this day.

The Greenhouse

Horticulturists couldn’t grow certain plant varieties in a field largely because of the harsh climate. The greenhouse was a simple, yet innovative response to that challenge, allowing growers to control the climate through temperature and lighting.The desire to protect plants from harsh weather has also presented other benefits as well. Growing in a greenhouse also :

  • Helps protect plants from disease and pests
  • Extends the growing season
  • Allows a greater variety of plants


Since human civilization started planting crops, they have been breeding desirable qualities in plants. These processes use to take decades if not centuries. Modern biotechnology reduces the time almost entirely. From a laboratory, a plant can be engineered to be more pest resistant or produce abundant blooms. Biotechnology has changed the varying success rate of crops to consistently high-quality yields, allowed us to grow vibrant strains of different flowers, crops, or plants that otherwise would be an incredibly slow process to achieve.

The Importance of Evolving in Business

As the world becomes increasingly efficient, the need to keep up becomes even greater, simply for the sake of sustainable business development. Implementing modern systems, processes, and tools allow companies to produce and deliver their goods at speed that distributors, retailers, and consumers expect. Tractors, greenhouses, and biotechnology are just three examples of how science and technology have allowed the horticulture industry to keep up with the high demands of twenty-first century commerce.

Since the 1980s, the Digital Revolution has been influencing the world through how we create and use information and communicate with each other. Computers and the Internet have become embedded in today’s society and we can share information faster than ever with billions of people around the world. Companies who are exploring how this translates into their company are seeing the next wave of innovation support their business development.

When evaluating technology, it is important to think of it as a tool to a problem. When evolving is a constant part of your business, change feels more like the solution rather than the problem.

The Next Tool in the Evolution

The average horticulturist has adapted their business to use the best tools to perfect their production process. As innovations are made, nurseries and greenhouses will continue to evolve and invest in the tools they need to produce the best product possible. Are you evolving the rest of your business process?

The production process is a major part of this industry and has progressed exceptionally in the past century. Now the next revolution is knocking on the door. Digital technology is transforming the supply chain and business processes in all industries including horticulture. Where the tractor was introduced as ‘faster horse’, now mobile technology is taking us out of the era of manual inventory management. From inventory control systems to online ordering processes, digital technology offers businesses a chance to evolve and thrive. It offers all businesses an opportunity to improve accuracy and streamline their internal process much like the tractor did in the production process.


Nursery adopting online ordering into their business process

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