From Seed to Sale: How to Automate Your Cannabis Grow
Much has been made about the promise offered by automation technologies. From new jobs and changing roles to increased productivity and efficiency, automation offers companies across industries significant upside — and the cannabis cultivation space is no different.
In the nation’s fastest-growing industry, the adoption of innovative technologies is transforming the way cannabis is grown as cultivators look to cut their labor while increasing efficiency and control throughout their gardens. When it comes to cultivation, management and especially compliance, cannabis operations on the cutting edge are realizing significant advantages through automation.
Helpful in both small home grows and large-scale industrial operations, automation can control many aspects of your grow, including lighting, humidity, temperature, water and the application of nutrients. Whether you are in search of greater control over the process or you just don’t want to pay so much attention to the plants in your garden, there are many reasons to embrace automation. But how can you automate you cannabis grow?
Integration of Automation
Today, automated systems and sophisticated machinery are available to improve performance in cultivation, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, packaging and distribution. These systems are becoming increasingly common as investment in cannabis industry technologies continues to grow.
Many factors need to be monitored and controlled in order to ensure the highest quality and quantity yields possible. From watering schedules and nutrient cycles to lighting, temperature, carbon dioxide (CO2) and fresh air exchange, being in charge of all of these factors every day can be quite time consuming and labor intensive.
Time is Money
A staple within automated indoor grow operations, timers are one of the first systems any grower can implement to automate aspects of their operation. Used to facilitate different aspects of climate control, both analog and digital timers can significantly lower overall labor and the repetition of tasks.
One of the most common applications of timers is lighting. During the vegetative phase of the grow cycle, a daily light cycle of 18–24 hours is employed, but when the plants begin flowering, a 12 hours on, 12 hours off approach is applied. Timers connected to the lighting system can fully automate this task at different points throughout the grow cycle. Much like lighting, fans, pumps, CO2 systems and other climate control elements can all be connected to timers to minimize labor and reduce time spent on basic repetitive tasks. Timers ultimately allow various grow systems to run on intervals over multiple schedules without the need for any manual input.
As mentioned, many aspects of your grow environment’s climate can be controlled using automation technologies. In cannabis grows, the ability to monitor and control CO2, temperature and humidity is vital to the quantity and quality of your crop, and automated climate control devices allow growers to fully optimize their climate to suit the needs of their plants.
Indoor grow environments are all different, and they all see disparate levels of humidity and varying temperatures depending on the season and location of the garden. From misters and humidifiers to simple heating and air conditioning units, the automation of climate control systems keeps plants within optimal conditions.
This level of control saves a lot of time and allows gardeners to know exactly where their climate levels are without even having to do any manual labor. Even better, these monitoring systems can also log and store data on your garden, empowering you with the information you need to optimize your operation.
Watering and Feeding
Slightly tougher to automate than lighting and climate control, the watering and feeding of your plants can be automated as well. Because different plants within the same grow might require different quantities of water and nutrients based on microclimate patterns, genetics and a number of other variables, fully automating feeding and irrigation systems can become quite complicated rather quickly.
From drip irrigation to “fertigation,” a practice which streamlines every aspect of a feeding schedule by calculating and mixing nutrients directly through an irrigation system, automation systems designed to auto-feed and irrigate effectively can offer several advantages, including improved nutrient efficiency and precision, reduced nutrient leaching and water consumption as well as minimized labor.
Keeping track of inventory and weights, growth stages and any movement the plants have done within a garden is a hassle. By automating the data entry of compliance information, costly mistakes are eliminated and a considerable amount of labor is reduced. Streamlining the monitoring and compliance process ensures greater accuracy in reporting, and like other smart-enabled systems, automated compliance technology stores all relevant information to the cloud, saving significant time and money while providing additional transparency for cultivators.
If you’re new to automation, try replacing just one system at a time with an automated technology, and see how it works in your grow environment. The time, money and energy savings create an enormous number of advantages and you may opt to expand the automation.
Adopting automated technologies affords growers more time to investigate and analyze trends, add or upgrade automated systems in the future and develop creative ideas for how existing systems can be updated in new and unique ways. Because most businesses in cannabis cultivation, production and distribution are still growing, learning and experimenting, early adoption of automation can put your company ahead of the curve and set you up for success down the road.
As we move forward, technology will drive the cannabis industry, and automation will be ubiquitous. At GeoShepard, our focus is on helping marijuana cultivators plan, review and measure crops digitally while capturing and delivering compliance data to government regulation agencies. Through unique partnerships with a number of complementary cannabis software firms, we’re able to offer a fully integrated technology solution for marijuana cultivators.
Implementing innovative technologies like the GeoShepard application helps dispensaries, growers and other stakeholders across the industry save time and money when dealing with the highly regulated legal cannabis space. To date, our software has monitored the harvesting of more than 350,000 lbs. of cannabis across 82,000-plus batches, saving users 42% on their harvesting labor costs.
For more information on how GeoShepard can automate your grow, email email@example.com or call us at (303) 898-6131.