Monitoring Systems for Outdoor Hemp Cultivation

With the increasing popularity of hemp cultivation outdoors and in greenhouses, new monitoring systems are entering the market to meet the needs of hemp farmers.

Hemp farming is fast becoming a popular industry due to its wide range of therapeutic and manufacturing uses. Many systems already exist for monitoring indoor hemp cultivation facilities, such as Urban-Gro and Braingrid, bringing novel, Internet of Things solutions into the hemp space.

Now that hemp is a fully legal agricultural commodity, more farmers are choosing to grow hemp outdoors. Within the CBD oil extraction industry, hemp is often found growing in a greenhouse. Both options are rising in popularity for hemp, meaning that monitoring systems for use in these environments are necessary.

Learn the requirements for effective monitoring systems, and take a look at some of the key players within the hemp cultivation industry.

FEATURES TO LOOK FOR IN A MONITORING SYSTEM

A remote monitoring system is designed to safeguard against prolonged environmental conditions that could damage or destroy an entire crop. A remote monitoring system must be able to:

  • Track near real-time changes in ecological conditions.
  • Communicate alerts to the user independent of the Internet or an Ethernet cable (e.g., enabled via a secondary cellular network for redundancy)
  • Continue to operate in the event of a power outage (must have a battery backup system)

Depending upon the size of the operation, a monitoring system able to analyze different zones within the crop may be desired. If hemp is being grown in a greenhouse, choose a monitoring system that can also be connected to any HVAC or lighting equipment to monitor performance, and check for failures.

BENEFITS OF AUTOMATING HEMP CULTIVATION

Monitoring systems are a core component of any automation system, as data must first be collected before an equipment or environmental decision can be made. Moving toward automation of the growing environment can accomplish the following:

Reduce the cost of labor

Automating essential tasks allows for less personnel, or grants staff to devote more of their time to other areas of interest, such as R&D or marketing efforts.

Increases yield and product quality

Measuring environmental conditions within a grow operation allows the farmer to improve their methods based on analyzed data and trends. This optimization often results in improved outcomes as related to quantity. Recipes for specific types of hemp can be created, ensuring repeatability in product quality.

Eliminate guesswork

Through analyzing cultivation data, the grower can make informed operational decisions. Changes in farming practices will only be based on evidence, rather than speculation. Sugarmade AI Cultivation Monitoring System

In May of this year, Sugarmade announced a new initiative to develop a simple, AI-based technology to monitor the cultivation of outdoor hemp. Sensors will be placed at appropriate locations throughout a hemp field and will gather data such as temperature, relative humidity, and soil moisture.

This monitoring system will be based on narrowband IoT technology, which is a type of cellular communications network. Advantages of this technology include a wider coverage area than other mobile networks and long battery life.

Sugarmade has not yet made public a timeline for the development of this technology.

SENSAPHONE REMOTE MONITORING SOLUTIONS

Another cellular-based system, the Sensaphone remote monitoring devices are specifically designed for use in a greenhouse environment. Sensors are placed throughout the greenhouse, and temperature, ventilation, CO2, and relative humidity data is collected. The user can set threshold limits for each parameter and is notified via a call or text if any variable falls outside the threshold limits.

Alerts are also received in the event of a power outage or equipment failure. Data is backed up on the cloud for redundancy, and the device is equipped with an internal rechargeable battery for redundancy in the case of a power outage.

LINK4 CLOUD-BASED GREENHOUSE CONTROLS

In addition to offering an automatic dosing system to ensure consistent fertigation, Link4 has also created a class of crop monitoring systems designed for greenhouse growing. These systems control as well as monitor, and can manage up to 24 HVAC and lighting devices.

AUTOGROW PROTECTED CROPPING

A form of outdoor growing, protected cropping allows plants to grow in a fully outdoor environment but with the added benefit of minimal structures offering protection from the elements. Examples of such enclosures would be hoop houses, tunnel houses, and canopy protection.

Autogrow’s system allows the hemp farmer to monitor and control variables such as irrigation, fertigation, run-off, and root zone. The user receives an alert in the event of a problem and can manage the system remotely from their smart device.

This articles was originally written and published by Amanda Luketa of Cannabis Tech https://www.cannabistech.com/articles/monitoring-systems-for-outdoor-hemp-cultivation/

How Much Electricity Does It Take To Grow Marijuana? Colorado Cities Are Finding Out

Colorado’s appetite for lighting up requires a lot of lights, it turns out.Licensed marijuana growers traditionally cultivate their products indoors under very bright lights that suck a lot of electricity. With the release of the federal government’s Clean Power Plan looming, cities across the state are working to reduce their carbon footprint. Part of those efforts include persuading grows to reduce their power consumption.

Between 2012 and 2013, the latest data available, electricity use increased by 1.2 percent across the city and county of Denver. Commercial marijuana grows were responsible for nearly half of that uptick.

“We’re very keen to see what is increasing energy use, and to have half of that coming from the grow industry is definitely something we pay attention to,” said Sonrisa Lucero, a strategist for the Denver’s Office of Sustainability.

Denver marijuana grows used just 1.85 percent of the city’s overall electricity in 2013. But any uptick matters because the city set a voluntary goal to prevent total energy consumed from rising past its 2012 use levels. Lucero’s job is to make sure that energy efficiency is top of mind for new residents and businesses.

The city is working with marijuana grow operations to lower their electricity use. Or the industry may sort itself out: A growing number of outdoor and greenhouse grow operations in Colorado are emerging that could make indoor grows obsolete — or at least, less cost effective.

A $12,000 electricity bill

Colorado Harvest Company’s Flower Room No. 1 holds dozens of green plants thriving underneath 22 1,000-watt lamps.

(Nathaniel Minor/CPR News)

To understand just how much energy it takes to grow marijuana indoors, look no further than Colorado Harvest Company’s Flower Room No. 1.The room has dozens of green plants thriving underneath 22 1,000-watt lamps hanging from the ceiling. Each is the size of a small card table. An air-conditioning system prevents the lights from overheating.

“Running a cannabis company with indoor production means that you’re going to use more than your fair share of electricity,” said Tim Cullen, the company’s owner.

Cullen’s monthly electricity bill for the 10,000-square-foot warehouse runs a cool $12,000. Another marijuana grow reports spending nearly twice that amount. Cullen said he’s tried to reduce electricity use by using LED lights currently on the market, but they haven’t produced the results he needs.

“We just can’t suffer the losses of having a lower energy bill, but then not producing flowers,” he said.

Tim Cullen, the owner of the Colorado Harvest Company, stands in his grow facility in Denver on Wednesday, July 8, 2015.

(Nathaniel Minor/CPR News)

New LED technology under production could change this picture. But Cullen isn’t waiting for that to happen. Instead he’s building a greenhouse in Denver to commercially grow marijuana. From start to finish, the planning and construction is expected to take about six months.

Greenhouses blooming in Pueblo

Denver has about four commercial marijuana grow greenhouses. But Pueblo is leading the charge in the state, with 16 and counting. Some are small, but others cover as many as 50 acres.

Chris Markuson, director of economic development and GIS for Pueblo County, said shifting priorities are changing how and where marijuana is grown.

“At first the assumption was that the grow operations had to be tightly secured and hidden from public view,” he said. “Because the temperament of the community–and the society as a whole–has come around a little bit, the grow operations are not really seen with negative light. At least they’re not in Pueblo.”

It helps that Pueblo has marketed itself as a business-friendly lower-cost location to cultivate marijuana.

With about 30 marijuana grow businesses overall, Markuson said the majority are using “Pueblo sunshine” to grow product.

Energy use in the area is evolving with the industry. According to Black Hills Energy, which provides power to the city of Pueblo and parts of Pueblo County, 10 grow facilities used 2.1 million kWh in 2014. That’s 0.1 percent of the energy that Black Hills delivered to its Pueblo coverage area.

Laying the groundwork

As the marijuana industry evolves, Colorado cities are deciding how–or if–they want to manage the growing energy demands from the industry.

Denver isn’t considering regulations for the marijuana industry, but pushing LED lights to grows. In Boulder, the city and county are setting measures to require businesses offset their electricity use via subscription of renewable energy credits — things like community solar garden memberships.

Xcel is reportedly working with marijuana growers to update lighting so they’re as energy efficient as possible.

The attempts by utilities and cities fit into a larger movement under way right now, said Howard Geller with Boulder-based Southwest Energy Efficiency Project.

“We can have that economic growth without electricity use increasing,” he said. “That’s going to be beneficial economically and that will help us achieve our environmental goals.”

Denver and Boulder’s work with marijuana and other businesses could be a good warm-up lap for what’s to come. The Clean Power Plan rule, expected to be finalized later this summer, will put even more pressure on states to reduce carbon emissions. Some of that reduction will come from changing where our power comes from. But Geller expects another significant portion to come from things like switching out the lightbulbs.

“Energy efficiency is a strategy that can be implemented very quickly in terms of ramping up rebate and financing programs, education efforts,” said Geller. “Whereas building new power plants–or retrofitting old power plants–that kind of initiative will take years to implement.”

This article was originally published on July 10 2015 by BY GRACE HOOD of Colorado Public Radio

Marijuana Growers Now Qualify For Energy Discounts In California

Agricultural Cannabis Growers Now Eligible for PG&E Ag Rate and Programs

Release Date: March 01, 2017
Contact: PG&E External Communications (415) 973-5930

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — While recreational marijuana cannot be sold in California until January 2018, existing medical marijuana growers and future recreational marijuana growers will be eligible as of March 1 for PG&E’s agricultural energy rate.

The passage of Proposition 64 in November 2016 allows the state to license and regulate recreational marijuana cultivation and businesses.

“Cannabis is a legal crop in our state, like almonds and tomatoes. Agricultural growers now will be eligible for the same rate and energy efficiency programs as farmers of other crops,” said Deborah Affonsa, vice president of Customer Service at PG&E.

PG&E customers are eligible for agricultural energy rates if they have received a permit from their local jurisdiction for the cultivation of cannabis and if 70 percent or more of the annual energy use on the meter is for agricultural end-uses such as growing crops, pumping water for agricultural irrigation or other uses that involve agricultural production for sale which do not change the form of the product. The agricultural energy rate applies to both customers who grow cannabis outdoors and those who grow indoors in commercial greenhouses.

The agricultural energy rate does not apply to residential customers who can legally grow up to six marijuana plants inside a private residence per the state Adult Use of Marijuana Act.

Previously, medical marijuana was not considered an agricultural product by PG&E, and growers were not eligible for the agricultural energy rate. Because medical marijuana can be grown and sold in California currently, licensed growers of medical marijuana are immediately eligible for the agriculture energy rate.

Cannabis growing operations can use an extremely large amount of electricity and are considered to be equivalent to other energy-intensive operations such as data centers.

“We’ve met with representatives of the emerging legal cannabis industry and listened to their needs. We are here to help our customers make smart, efficient and affordable energy choices. Now that cannabis is in California’s future, our next step is to work with these new agricultural customers and make this industry as energy efficient as possible,” said Affonsa.

PG&E’s agricultural rates are under the jurisdiction of the California Public Utilities Commission and the state of California.

Agricultural customers with questions about rates, rules and energy efficiency programs can learn more at pge.com/ag or contact PG&E’s dedicated Agricultural Customer Service Center at 1-877-311-3276.

Measuring your energy performance to mitigate the threat of cost pressures and regulations

Sustainability is a broad topic with deep engagement in a variety of industries, though it is a relatively new conversation in cannabis. That said, in today’s rapidly scaling and globalizing market, intelligent cannabis investors and operators are beginning to contemplate how sustainability can add value to their ventures.

Personally, after two decades of sustainability experience in a variety of industries, I prefer the term “resource efficiency” over sustainability because it is more clear and ties directly to the bottom line.

With impeccable timing given the state of today’s competitive market, Arcview hosted the first major cannabis investor discussion on sustainability a few weeks ago in San Francisco. I was honored to speak alongside Emily Paxhia of Poseidon, Frederick Schilling of Klersun and Francis Priznar of Arcview.

The Arcview speakers borrowed from their experiences in other sectors as they laid out the reasons why sustainability—or resource efficiency—matters in cannabis:

  • Mitigating cost pressures through improving the efficiency of operations
  • Enabling brand differentiation in a crowded marketplace
  • Protecting the industry’s reputation (i.e., ensuring the entire sector is not tarnished by the image of inefficient indoor energy hogs that disrupt electricity grids)
  • Attracting investor interest
  • Enhancing valuation
  • Getting ahead of oncoming regulations on natural resource use (Massachusetts recently mandated use of LED lighting in indoor grows and California will soon be writing its rules setting targets on efficiency and renewables.)

One question from the audience, while seemingly simple, was particularly insightful and generated an inspired response from the panel. “How do you get started on a sustainability journey?”

The responses essentially advised:

  1. Evaluate your business activities
  2. Take an inventory of your natural resource impacts
  3. Dive into the process of determining how to reduce one of your significant line items
  4. Take the savings you mined and plow them into additional profit-maximizing activities

Energy expenses generally range from 25 to 50 percent of an overall cost structure of a cultivation operation that incorporates controlled environments (indoor or greenhouse). I recommend starting there. We at the non-profit Resource Innovation Institute created a free, peer-reviewed energy benchmarking tool called the Cannabis PowerScore to point the way to an efficient industry future.

More than 100 cultivation facility operators have contributed data about their energy consumption, technology use and production output. In return, they receive an instant benchmark that compares their energy performance to their peers, while identifying operational weak points and resources to drive energy savings. All farm-identifiable data is kept confidential.

Resource Innovation Institute then uses the aggregate, anonymous data to inform governments, utilities and manufacturers how to shape policies, incentives and R&D to drive conservation and establish industry standards. In essence, we are playing a role much like the federal government does with the Energy Star label.

It’s critical that industry leaders take an initial step toward sustainability not just for their own benefit, but also to enable the industry to establish baselines and figure out the most efficient pathways forward so that geographies know how to compete in the global marketplace. We need to move away from our history of secrecy and elevate crowdsourced best practices.

We can only do this through objective analysis of data. After all, literally no one knows with a significant level of confidence how to optimize efficient techniques and technologies across a range of cultivation settings and climate zones. For example, running an efficient operation in Arizona is vastly different than doing so in Massachusetts.

Last week, we announced that RII will produce a Cannabis Energy Report in partnership with New Frontier Data and Scale Microgrid Solutions. This groundbreaking report will be the definitive guide to support investors, operators, policymakers and others to make decisions on how best to create a profitable, resource efficient future for cannabis. The analysis will be based on the crowdsourced Cannabis PowerScore data.

Start your sustainability journey and get your instant energy performance benchmark by encouraging one of your team members to invest a few minutes engaging with the Cannabis PowerScore. If you participate by August 31, your data will be incorporated into the analysis for the Cannabis Energy Report and will give you the best understanding of how competitive your facility is.

With your valuable input, we can simultaneously chart the best course for industry efficiency and help boost your bottom line.

 

This article was originally published,

at  http://www.mjbizdaily.com

 

 

Solar Water Pumping Solutions in Agriculture

I’ve been getting asked more and more lately about solar power and pumping water. If you are looking for better, more sustainable cost efficient ways to irrigate your fields this may be your hot ticket. Solar powered water pumps for hemp or cannabis grows.

You can check these guys out, Grundfos who offer products that can help you pump water if you’re far off the grid or in a remote power location.

http://www.grundfos.com

Grundfos keeps lifecycle costs low for solar water supply. We were one of the first to offer an off-grid water pumping system. Today, we are a global player that leads the way developing sustainable solar water solutions.

  • Low operating costs and no energy costs – costs are known in advance
  • Favourable investment climate – solid return on investment
  • A robust system – long product life, low maintenance and manageable   service requirements
  • Advice and support to ensure delivery of the right optimised solar  water solution

Grundfos Solar Water Solutions deliver unmatched flexibility for reliable water  supply with no ongoing energy costs. From low-flow to large-scale solar-powered water supply, Grundfos has a highly optimised solar water solution that matches any application on the farm or ranch, in or around the home, and for communities in developing countries-

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