ControlByWeb

Smart Greenhouses & The Green Rush

Environmental Monitoring & Control

September 1, 2020

As the legal cannabis market expands, so too is the demand for automated commercial cultivation systems which increase yields in secure environments. Smart greenhouses, known as grow houses in the cannabis market, will rise to meet the demand by delivering the efficiencies needed to compete at a global scale.

Automation will be the key for keeping costs down as US growers vie for market share. Legalization of marijuana is growing globally, and countries first-to-market will have important advantages. Colombia and Portugal have been among the first to legalize. Kyle Detwiler, CEO of Clever Leaves, told Forbes that such countries "are poised to continue establishing their global dominance in short order.”

With rapid growth projected across the world, and with domestic labor costs at a premium, US marijuana growers will look to greenhouse automation to optimize yields and reduce the need for manual labor.

commercial cannabis greenhouse facility

Automated commercial greenhouse, or grow house, for growing cannabis.

Market Complexity Demands Efficiency

The legalization of cannabis is creating a "green rush" of investors and growers looking to capitalize on a long-awaited cash crop. But it's rife with complexity. In the US, legalization is moving at a different pace in each state. Regulation is not only high, but inconsistent across state borders. And the DEA has yet to remove cannabis from its Schedule 1 status.

Despite these obstacles, demand is high and growers are jumping in with both feet. In just 33 states with some form of legalized marijuana use, total sales in the US market are projected to reach $30 billion by 2025, while 2019 closed out at just over $12 billion.

However, the growth hasn't come easily, and to compete in the future, growers will need to find efficiencies to stay profitable. This will be increasingly important as legalization moves across the globe and international competitors enter the marketplace.

Forbes reports that multi-state operators are particularly vulnerable. "Running a cannabis business is expensive, and running a multi-state cannabis business when each state has its own rules to abide by make it hard to achieve economies of scale."

Multi-state operators are just another example of the profitability challenge that growers face. One answer is to install greenhouses with automated processes that increase yields, reduce the workforce, and protect investments.

Benefits of Smart Greenhouses

Known as grow houses in the cannabis world, greenhouses are a tested and proven tool for optimizing crops and profits. And with a crop so valuable as cannabis, growing in a grow house makes a lot of sense.

Greenhouse automation solves several critical problems for marijuana growers:

  • Precision climate control
    • Temperature
    • Humidity
    • Lighting
    • Irrigation
  • Reduction of manual labor
  • Security

Smart greenhouse systems can solve each of these challenges when set up properly. They do this by using an array of sensors that send their signals to a control system. In turn, the control system has programmed logic to operate things like fans, vents, heaters, dehumidifiers, pumps, valves, gates, locks, and more. This dramatically reduces the need for manual labor, allowing growers to do much more with way less.

They also sound local alarms, or send text or email notifications directly to operators to take whatever actions are difficult to automate, like applying fertilizer or controlling soil pH. Alarms also alert operators when something isn't working right and needs repairs. This prevents disasters and keeps the grower notified and in control of nearly all aspects of their grow house.

Greenhouse automation and control is a proven method to control the growing environment and increase yields. Large commercial growers like Costa Farms have been building and optimizing smart greenhouses for many years. Their $600 million horticulture business is powered by advanced greenhouses that enhance plant quality and even control plant growth speed.

Scalable Greenhouse Automation

There are a lot of options out there, from basic to advanced controls. However, those two broad categories are very different, and there aren't many solutions that scale easily. Industrial I/O devices and controllers from ControlByWeb fill the gap nicely, and integrate well with larger control systems.

You can deploy a single wireless greenhouse temperature monitoring device which can send email and text alarms, or you can set up sensors and controllers for a fully automated grow house.

ControlByWeb's industrial-grade programmable I/O controllers are remotely accessible and are fully functional, with or without a cloud. And with our intuitive Task Builder, automated control of any greenhouse equipment is simplified.

Speak to our application specialists to understand how ControlByWeb can be a good fit for you.


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