The commercial floriculture industry in the United States includes bedding and garden plants, potted flowering and foliage plants, propagative material, cut flowers, and cut cultivated greens (USDA, 2008). According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, floriculture crops were grown at 26,236 operations with sales receipts of nearly $6.5 billion (USDA, 2009).
Floriculture crop production is input-intensive and requires the use of nonrenewable and petroleum-based products for pesticides, fertilizers, growth regulators, heating, greenhouse glazing, and packaging to make the crop uniform and of consistent high quality (Krug et al., 2008; Lopez et al., 2008). Most of these crops are produced under 819 million square feet (18,823 acres) of controlled greenhouse environments or protected structures (USDA, 2008, 2009). These crops are commonly grown in nonrecyclable plastic containers that are often disposed of by consumers and landscapers, thus presenting a significant disposal issue for the horticulture industry (Evans and Hensley, 2004). Garthe and Kowal (1993) estimated at least 408 million pounds of plastic are generated for use in the nursery and floriculture industry and this number is expected to grow. Petroleum-based products used to produce floriculture crops can cause a greenhouse operation to negatively affect the environment, thus spurring discussions about sustainability in the floriculture industry (Krug et al., 2008; Stewart, 2007).
The Floriculture Sustainability Research Coalition defines sustainable floriculture production as aiming to reduce environmental degradation, maintaining agricultural productivity, promoting economic viability, conserving resources and energy, and maintaining stable communities and quality of life (Krug et al., 2008). Examples of sustainable practices include recycling irrigation water and plastic, implementing biological controls, and using alternative energy sources (Lopez et al., 2008). According to an informal survey conducted by Greenhouse Grower (2008), the top 100 U.S. growers indicated conflicting opinions about sustainability and its role in the floriculture industry. Some growers felt the industry should progress toward sustainable production practices, whereas other growers felt they already took care of the environment (Tambascio, 2008). Growers were also concerned about the consumer's perception of sustainable floriculture and growers question the benefits they will receive from adopting sustainable practices (Tambascio, 2008). These responses to sustainability indicate that research is needed to better understand what influences growers' decisions to adopt sustainable practices in their operation.
The objective of this research was to identify factors influencing growers' willingness to adopt sustainable floriculture production practices. “Willingness to adopt” refers to a grower's motivation to adopt a new innovation, technology, and/or practice in their business (Anderson, 1993). Research in other agricultural industries was used to identify factors that influence growers' adoption of new practices because to date, there are no peer-reviewed articles on growers' perceptions of sustainable floriculture practices.
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