Automation and Efficiency
With global sales expected to reach $33.6 billion by 20251, the cannabis market is a growth opportunity for cultivators. But it’s also a challenge. Unpredictable growing conditions and rising operating costs are preventing cultivators from producing high-potency cannabis with an equally high value in the market.
The way ahead is a greenhouse facility with automation solutions that tie all the various cultivation systems, such as irrigation, cooling, heating, and ventilation, together.
Why you should invest in an automated greenhouse
The range of greenhouse automation systems available to growers is wide. There are climate control equipment and systems that manage temperature, lighting, water, and ventilation, and nutrition delivery automation as well. Automated solutions also store data you can leverage to monitor growth patterns and make better cultivation decisions.
While upfront costs on these can be daunting for some cultivators, especially if you are a larger grower with more acreage, industry experts say the return on investment is quick and long-term.
Automation leads to savings on labor costs, energy, and fertilizer bills, enables consistent quality, and helps growers improve their cultivation techniques. It also reduces the risk of human error and natural events such as sudden temperature changes. Let’s look at some of these benefits in detail:
Automation allows growers to see the big picture. Your decisions on seed selection, cultivation techniques—indoor vs. outdoor, hydroponics, crop steering and inert growing mediums—and more can be informed by this. For example, if your strategy is to produce marijuana for medical use, you can tie federal testing information to your crop data. You’ll be able to tweak your greenhouse conditions and processes, so your crop meets medical-use requirements, such as higher oil production and terpene content or reduced pathogens.
Enhance Growth and Production Process
Automated environmental controls help you reduce energy costs by controlling the lighting, temperature, and humidity in a greenhouse. You’ll be able to optimize plant growth, reduce the risk of mold breakouts, and produce healthy buds. You will also avoid the risk of burning away delicate terpenes and cannabinoids if the temperature is too high at the flowering stage. Ensuring that your humidity and temperature are controlled will increase the potency as well as the effect and flavor profile of your plants. Growers can also utilize LED bulbs and smartphone-controlled technology to control the lighting in a greenhouse.
Industry experts agree that automation solutions in cannabis growing don’t necessarily replace the human factor but complement it. Growers can, however, save on labor costs by automating simple but time-consuming tasks and assigning skilled staff to more complicated functions. For example, automated trimming machines will eliminate repetitive work so employees can be more productive on strategic tasks like plant care and improving growth strategies.
Enabling the automation of selected critical functions also means growers won’t have to rely too heavily on a small group of people with in-depth knowledge of the grow process. This avoids the risk to operations of staff shortages due, for example, to employee resignations or sick days. Apart from these, automation will enable your business to remain sustainable because it allows you to scale more easily.
Reduce Consumption of Water and Fertilizers
You’ll never have to guess how much moisture your plants are getting. Soil moisture sensors evaluate water content and let you know, in real-time through software connected to your phone, whether your plants are optimally hydrated. You’ll also be able to control irrigation this way, enabling optimal water usage and cutting the bill on this.
Automation optimizes nutrient delivery to your plants. When you supply the right nutrients at the right time of plant development, you’ll ensure that your plants will thrive. Taking the risk to deliver nutrients without careful monitoring is likely to destroy your entire crop.
Initial clues that you’re delivering too many nutrients include visible signs like leaf burn. Too little nutrients and you’ll slow growth. When you automate this process, you can focus on supplying just the right amount of nutrients to ensure more yield. If the leaves on your plant are clear of any spotting, bronzing, or yellow burn marks, then nutrient delivery is at an optimum.
Reduce Chemical and Pesticide Usage
Cannabis cultivation often involves the use of chemicals to improve crop quality and produce large buds. They include everything from pH balancing products and cleaning agents to pesticides. Growers wanting to improve their operation’s impact on the environment can use automation to eliminate, or at least reduce, the use of some of them.
For example, one pest-control technology uses organic compounds to control viruses, bacteria, and fungi in the crop, reducing chemical usage in the greenhouse. Another method is machine vision technology, which studies historical crop growth patterns to identify weeds from among the cannabis plants and remove them.
Enhance Quality and Homogeneity
One key benefit of greenhouse automation is its ability to gather data that growers can leverage to make decisions. For example, cultivators can extract data on a successful harvest from the past, such as indoor climate conditions, lighting cycles, and nutrient dosages, and then replicate them to produce a similar yield. Everything is controlled in an automated indoor greenhouse. Cultivators produce standard results, and improve on them, again and again.
Partner With an Industry Leader
To gain a competitive edge in the cannabis industry, you need to be able to maximize your yield quantity and quality quickly. Prospiant is your cannabis and hemp growth expert. Partner with Prospiant to work directly with industry specialists who can keep you informed of novel processes and the latest equipment and industry intelligence.