Cannabis Cultivation

Challenges to Cannabis Cultivation

Millions of Americans can now access cannabis legally throughout the U.S. As the industry grows, so too has the scale of cultivation facilities and, along with them, the challenges growers face in managing energy costs and bringing a successful crop to harvest.

Historically, cannabis growers have used the same kinds of cultivation facilities that dominate the current agritech industry: 1,000-watt HID lighting, mixed-light greenhouses and LED facilities. Each of these indoor grow facilities has baked in flaws that are amplified when dealing with the sensitive cannabis and hemp plants. Not to mention, each requires a significant up-front investment to construct, as well as high energy costs for the lifetime of the facility.

Hefty up-front investments

All the leading facility types require a hefty up-front investment. When the cannabis industry was young and confined to the West coast, grow facilities were much smaller and so this expense could be managed. But now that facilities have grown to as large as 1 million square feet, these prices are simply not sustainable.

For lighting alone, 1000-watt HID lights could cost several hundred dollars per unit. They have an effective range of 7 square feet. For a 1 million square foot facility, the cost of HID units alone would be astronomical. Even for smaller facilities, these facilities require a steep capital investment.

So, what about LEDs? These units are often cheaper than HIDs but can still cost $100 or more each. Considering that one 1000-watt HID bulb puts out roughly 100,000 lumens, you'll likely require more individual LED units to cover the same square footage, meaning the upfront investment remains significant if not even higher.

Finally, mixed light greenhouses reduce the need for investment in lighting units when compared to the other two leading options, but these polycarbonate facilities face the industry’s highest rates of failure due to heat retention.

Excessive energy usage

Your upfront investment is, naturally, not the only expense to consider when operating an indoor grow facility. You also must consider ongoing energy costs.

HIDs are expensive to operate. A single 1000-watt HID run for one hour equals a kilowatt hour of energy, the average cost of which is 12 cents in the U.S. If you run your HIDs for 12 hours per day, that's roughly $1.50 per light per day. Considering a single HID unit is suitable for roughly 7 square feet, those costs can add up rather quickly.

LED lights tout their reduced energy usage as a benefit but it's important to keep in mind that you'll be running a higher number of LED units in this type of system. In aggregate, the energy demand of LEDs is still significant and could even become more expensive than an HID facility, depending on your design and facility size.

Mixed light greenhouses again outperform the other two market leaders in this area, but this can vary greatly depending on the size of your greenhouse and the type of lighting you select.

Heat build-up and risk of crop failure

Heat build-up is the biggest enemy of cannabis and hemp plants, which are highly susceptible to molds and mildews, especially in their flowering phase. Any facility that causes heat build-up as a byproduct will be harder and more expensive to control and will increase the likelihood of crop failure due to molds and mildews.

The powerful 1000-watt HID lights are good at what they do, but they also run hot. Generally, the higher the wattage, the higher the heat output. A single 1000-watt bulb will generate 3400+ BTUs of heat per hour. That means a grow facility needs suitable ventilation and a hard-working climate control system; that also means more energy costs.

This is also where mixed light greenhouses don’t hold up. These facilities require the use of polycarbonate plastics to allow adequate light to permeate, but also allows through the UV and IR, which leads to heat build-up that can harm plants and promote the growth of molds and mildews. Cannabis plants are highly sensitive and require an optimal environment for growth, so the ability to carefully control climate and humidity are essential.

How SunGrown Zero solves these design flaws

At SunGrown Zero, we know harnessing the power of the sun, combined with strategic technological investments, provides a better crop at a lower overhead, and ultimately costs you less to maintain in the long run. That's not even to mention a reduced environmental footprint.

The SunGrown Zero indoor grow facility design system delivers:

  • A 60 to 90 percent reduction in energy costs
  • A 50 to 75 percent reduction in crop failure due to mildews and molds
  • Full-spectrum sunlight for healthier, stronger plants
How do we do it? For too long, man has sought to dominate nature rather than live in harmony with it. We've simply taken the lessons that Mother Nature has taught us and incorporated it into our facility design.

Daylight devices

The mainstay of SunGrown Zero designs are tubular daylight devices, which allow natural, full-color spectrum sunlight to enter your indoor grow facility along with all of the photosynthesis-driving PAR radiation plants need. Not only does this result in a healthier, happier crop, but it also cuts down on energy waste, electricity costs and reduced water consumption.

Heat reduction

Our methods result in little to no heat transfer, which reduces the odds of crop failure due to molds and mildews by 50% to 75%. Moreover, it reduces the need for additional climate control systems, further cutting your energy costs and making the indoor environment even easier to manage.

Intelligent lighting system design

SunGrown Zero uses a blend of optimal design, planning, and intelligent lighting software to ensure an indoor grow facility only uses electricity when absolutely necessary.

Strategic SOP development

Finally, SunGrown Zero helps you develop an optimal SOP for rotating your crops through your indoor grow. We are more than a partner for facility construction alone, but strategic advisors who are invested in your success now and into the future.

If you're tired of paying a premium for flawed designs, it's time to see the light with SunGrown Zero. The cannabis industry has a bright future, and SunGrown Zero is at the heart of it.