A model was developed that will calculate the maximum number of containers that can be placed in a specified area. There are basically three patterns of container placement. First, “square” placement involves placing pots in parallel rows in both directions so that any four pots form a square. The other two methods involve staggered patterns in which any three containers form a triangle. In the “long staggered” pattern, the long rows are parallel to the long dimension of the bench or floor space, while in the “short staggered” pattern, long rows are parallel to the short dimension of the bench. Comparisons of spacing patterns were made using a range of greenhouse/bench dimensions and container sizes. In most cases, a staggered arrangement allowed a significant increase in the number of containers fitting on a bench as compared to square placement. For example, when 6-inch pots are placed pot-to-pot in an 8 × 50-foot greenhouse section or bench, “short staggered” or “long staggered” arrangement of containers permitted 10.4% to 11.9% more containers over that allowed by a square pattern. In general, the larger the bench or greenhouse section, the greater the benefit of staggered spacing. The difference between short and long staggered was usually less than 3%, and depended on the specific space dimensions. This model can be easily entered into a spreadsheet for growers to perform their own calculations.
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