Original Research by SGS – Green Energy Horticulture: Efficiency & Sustainability for Indoor Cannabis Cultivation
The cannabis industry is booming and isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon. Indoor cultivation is becoming common practice as the industry continues to evolve. With this, comes massive energy consumption and environmental implications. When compared to outdoor or greenhouse cultivation, indoor cannabis production requires an enormous amount of energy. A majority of this energy consumption comes from lighting and HVAC systems (38% and 51%, respectively).
Growers can reduce their carbon footprint and save on operating costs by transitioning to more environmentally friendly growing methods. Smart Grow Systems (SGS) has designed one of the most energy efficient systems in the world of cannabis cultivation today: growing sea of green in mobile, vertical racks with direct current powered LEDs. This system focuses on saving energy, space, time and money. Ultimately, the Smart Grow System is paving the way for a more sustainable future in cannabis production.
Many growers have converted from traditional lighting methods to the use of light emitting diodes (LEDs). Growers have traditionally used high pressure sodium (HPS) and metal halide (MH) lights. LEDs have many benefits when it comes to growing cannabis. They have the ability to create customized spectrums tailored to various phases in the grow cycle. This allows active photonic energy (PAR light) to be delivered to plants, stimulating growth and photosynthesis. LEDs have a smaller thermal output when compared to their HPS or MH counterpart, and are 50% more energy efficient on average. For example, a 500 watt LED light can replace a 1,000 watt HPS in a flower room. However, savings go beyond just transitioning to LEDs. The way in which lights are powered will make a considerable difference in energy savings and heat production.
Most grow lights are powered with alternating current (AC) drivers. Smart Grow Systems uses direct current (DC) drivers which can extend up to 300 feet away from the light source. On the other hand, AC drivers can extend only about 12-15 feet away. Ultimately, this means that AC drivers will have to be placed adjacent to lights. This creates an excessive amount of heat in the grow room, as well as around the plants. Using DC drivers that extend hundreds of feet away allows growers to redirect heat out of the room. Not only does this reduce the need for HVAC systems, but it makes vertical farming a more feasible option. DC power also has significant advantages when it comes to amperage. Take a look at the table below outlining the differences between HPS, standard LEDs and Smart Grow System’s LEDs.
Vertical farming maximizes canopy area and yield per square foot. Vertical racks can be used for both the propagation and flower phases. Furthermore, using mobile, vertical racking systems can increase canopy area by up to three to four times (depending on the number of levels are used). Mobile racks also create one giant PAR map when they are pushed together. This will ensure even light distribution, leading to more consistent and high quality yields. Though many factors contribute the the overall efficiency of a grow, DC power is arguably the biggest technological shift in vertical farming.
Sea of green is the last component to the Smart Grow System, in addition to DC powered LED lights in mobile, vertical racks. Growing a large quantity of small plants will utilize vertical rack space most efficiently. Smaller sized plants require less water, space and time to grow. Thus, making sea of green a more environmentally friendly alternative. The sea of green application partners best with the living soil package: a light NPK soil with The Original CHO feeding regimen (zero drain to waste). Many growers have seen overall increases in yield and THC percentage when using a sea of green, living soil growing method. The Smart Grow System offers simplicity, savings and sustainability. The future of growing cannabis is green!