By Aaron Mullins, Systems Coordinator, Next Big Crop
The coronavirus crisis is, among many things, a stark reminder that you always need a plan B. It is also proof that you can have a perfectly solid cultivation business upended by factors completely out of your control, such as public health crises, global supply-chain disruptions and widespread economic volatility. As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, many commercial cannabis cultivators are struggling to stay operational while complying with strict social distancing guidelines currently in place. Automated cannabis cultivation is becoming a necessity.
In such circumstances—when you absolutely need the ability to run your grow remotely, or with just a skeleton crew—the value of automated irrigation systems, environmental controls and harvest techniques has never been more striking.
You reap what you sow (and how you sow)
Grow operations across the globe are facing this dilemma right now. If you hand water your plants, and you can’t ensure that someone physically shows up—regularly and reliably—to water those plants, your plants will die. Simple as that.
The same goes for environmental controls. You need automated systems that allow you to monitor and modify your grow remotely, or you need people onsite to keep an eye on things.
As for harvesting, do you need twenty temp workers to handle everything? Or do you have automated systems that can be operated by just a couple staff members? Only one of these is likely to be possible while social distancing.
Automated Tools for Remote Cultivation
Next Big Crop has been a proponent of automated cannabis cultivation systems for a while now. When we work with clients on designing, building and retrofitting commercial cultivation facilities, we always recommend investing in automation technologies on the front end. The up-front costs are higher, sure, but large-scale growers recoup those costs very quickly.
Automated control system providers like Argus Controls integrate the control of cultivation environments and irrigation systems and offer specialty monitoring and control applications to support basically any cultivation requirement or need. Highly automated systems like Argus Live give you the power to monitor and adjust a wide array of environmental variables through an app on your tablet or phone.
The ability to operate your facility remotely, with just a few essential workers on site, helps to ensure your employees’ health and safety by providing them with ample space to maintain their distance from one another while working. The ability to operate with a skeleton crew also insures your business against labor disruptions and temp shortages in times like these.
“Our software lets you see the full picture of your grow, with specific metrics that go as granular as you want to get and real-time alerts for any active or pending alarms you have set,” explains Alex Fermon, Marketing Coordinator at Argus. “And you can do all of that on your phone or laptop.”
After all, you never know what tomorrow will bring. You can’t control the weather, the stock market or whether or not there is a global pandemic, but you can prepare for the unexpected. For those of us in the cultivation sector, automation technology is the best way to prepare for whatever life throws your way.