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How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next Level grow link TM

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next Level

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How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next Level grow link TM
How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next Level grow link TM
TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction 3 No Longer a Hobby 5 Elements of Expansion 9 The

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

3

No Longer a Hobby

5

Elements of Expansion

9

The New Tools

16

Combined Solutions

23

Data for the Long Term

26

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next Level5 Elements of Expansion 9 The New Tools 16 Combined Solutions 23 Data for the Long

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INTRODUCTION In 2012, when Colorado voters passed Amendment 64, many saw the legalization of cannabis

INTRODUCTION

In 2012, when Colorado voters passed Amendment 64, many saw the legalization of cannabis as a great experiment. Since then, marijuana has practically gone mainstream, with medical use becoming legal in more than half of the states in the union, and a rising tide of states allowing recreational use. As a result, cannabis is now a booming industry. In 2017, the U.S. market saw sales reach $9 billion, and analysts predict that figure will rise to $21 billion by 2021. That would make the cannabis industry bigger than the NFL, America’s most profitable sports organization, which generates about $13 billion in revenue.

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next Levelbigger than the NFL, America’s most profitable sports organization, which generates about $13 billion in revenue.

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Given this rapid rise, many small- to mid-sized growers are looking to raise their game,

Given this rapid rise, many small- to mid-sized growers are looking to raise their game, to shift part-time or small operations toward a more commercial level. In this e-book, we will:

Review some of the reasons for establishing a more commercial, higher-end growing operation;toward a more commercial level. In this e-book, we will: Look at some of the items

Look at some of the items a grower may need to consider when planning for an expansion; anda more commercial, higher-end growing operation; Consider the role of technology, including automation and

Consider the role of technology, including automation and data analytics, as a means to drive higher yields while enabling the grower to oversee larger, more complex operations and multiple sites.may need to consider when planning for an expansion; and How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next Levela means to drive higher yields while enabling the grower to oversee larger, more complex operations

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NO LONGER A HOBBY If cannabis cultivation belonged to hobbyists in the past, that is

NO LONGER A HOBBY

If cannabis cultivation belonged to hobbyists in the past, that is no longer the case. With expanded legalization—most recently in the relaxation of California’s recreational-use markets—the commercialization of cannabis has taken on a new dimension.

As a result, even professional growers who had been operating small- or mid-sized farming programs have recently realized the potential benefits of expansion and modernization. In order to increase yield and secure a loyal following in a fast-growing market, they are expanding to bigger farming facilities or investing in multiple growing locations. As competition increases, many are seeking to establish themselves as viable players in an ever-crowded field. Those who can claim an early seat at the table will be better positioned to meet market demand over the long haul.

better positioned to meet market demand over the long haul. “THOSE WHO CAN CLAIM AN EARLY

“THOSE WHO CAN CLAIM AN EARLY SEAT AT THE TABLE WILL BE BETTER POSITIONED TO MEET MARKET DEMAND OVER THE LONG HAUL.”

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next Level“THOSE WHO CAN CLAIM AN EARLY SEAT AT THE TABLE WILL BE BETTER POSITIONED TO MEET

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“IN ORDER TO INCREASE YIELD AND SECURE A LOYAL FOLLOWING IN A FAST- GROWING MARKET,

“IN ORDER TO INCREASE YIELD AND SECURE A LOYAL FOLLOWING IN A FAST- GROWING MARKET, GROWERS ARE EXPANDING TO BIGGER FARMING FACILITIES OR INVESTING IN MULTIPLE GROWING LOCATIONS.”

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next LevelFAST- GROWING MARKET, GROWERS ARE EXPANDING TO BIGGER FARMING FACILITIES OR INVESTING IN MULTIPLE GROWING LOCATIONS.”

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However, the move to expand a growing operation can include a number of challenges:  

However, the move to expand a growing operation can include a number of challenges:

  Time.
 

Time.

Growers who tend to larger crops or multiple facilities may find themselves pressed for time, especially if they take

 

manual approach to watering, feeding, and other basic responsibilities.

a

Consistency.

Consistency.

A

small grower who expands may find it hard to maintain a

 

consistent approach to growing. As moisture, soil content, lighting, and other factors vary among different sites (or even across a single large grow), it can be difficult to apply a rigorous methodology using manual methods. Intuition and

experience count for a lot in farming, but it’s hard to scale up

if

these are your only tools.

Data. In this data-driven era, small-scale farmers (who expand without modernizing their facilities) miss an

Data. In this data-driven era, small-scale farmers (who expand without modernizing their facilities) miss an opportunity to capture long-term information on effective methods. They fail to capture data that they might use to produce higher yields and more consistent crops over time.

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next Levelmethods. They fail to capture data that they might use to produce higher yields and more

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Small growers who expand may quickly discover that the rigors of agriculture—the time, effort, and

Small growers who expand may quickly discover that the rigors of agriculture—the time, effort, and energy needed to manage large or multiple sites—can outstrip their personal resources. Rather than just making their operations bigger, many are looking to get smarter: to farm more efficiently and cost-effectively.

In California, analysts note, “big agricultural producers are looking to grow cannabis at scale.” That puts pressure on smaller growers to operate at a higher level. It’s not just about growing more crops in bigger operations. Legalization also includes the need for a new level of sophistication among growers. As a result, many are actively pursuing a modern approach for their operations.

Before considering the role of sensors and smart management tools in an expanded grow operation, it’s helpful to first examine the fundamentals. Just which considerations come into play for a small- or mid-sized grower looking to take their game to the next level?

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next LevelJust which considerations come into play for a small- or mid-sized grower looking to take their

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ELEMENTS OF EXPANSION For those seeking to expand a growing operation, it’s helpful to look

ELEMENTS OF EXPANSION

For those seeking to expand a growing operation, it’s helpful to look at a number of key variables.

Type of Operation

Once the decision has been made to start a cultivation center, the next big question is: What growing method will be used—outdoor, greenhouse, or indoor? Each of these methods has upsides and downsides that need to be fully understood before making a decision.

Growing indoors will provide the maximum number of harvests per year—an enclosed environment creates the ability to control the climate and enable year-round growing. However, it comes at a price:

high energy consumption. Lights and cooling use a lot of electricity, leading to indoor cultivation having the highest monthly energy bill.

indoor cultivation having the highest monthly energy bill. “GROWING INDOORS WILL PROVIDE THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF

“GROWING INDOORS WILL PROVIDE THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF HARVESTS PER YEAR.”

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next Levelhaving the highest monthly energy bill. “GROWING INDOORS WILL PROVIDE THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF HARVESTS PER

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Greenhouse cultivation uses the sun as the primary light source— free light. You have the

Greenhouse cultivation uses the sun as the primary light source— free light. You have the ability to grow year-round and semi-control the climate. Unlike indoor enclosures, greenhouses are not sealed environments, exchanging air with the outside. This can lead to problems inside the facility, especially on humid days. Introducing outside air can also lead to the introduction of pests and pathogens.

Growing outdoors uses the sun as the only light source—again, free light. There are also no costs associated with climate control or lighting. Because the harvest season is controlled by the climate of your region, you get a limited number of harvests per year.

Which method to use is ultimately your choice. You should base your decision on the resources available to you and the climate of the region you intend to grow in.

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next LevelYou should base your decision on the resources available to you and the climate of the

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“GROWING OUTDOORS USES THE SUN AS THE ONLY LIGHT SOURCE—WHICH MEANS, FREE LIGHT. THERE ARE

“GROWING OUTDOORS USES THE SUN AS THE ONLY LIGHT SOURCE—WHICH MEANS, FREE LIGHT. THERE ARE ALSO NO COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH CLIMATE CONTROL OR LIGHTING.”

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next LevelONLY LIGHT SOURCE—WHICH MEANS, FREE LIGHT. THERE ARE ALSO NO COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH CLIMATE CONTROL OR

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Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning are major factors impacting the

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning are major factors impacting the success of any indoor growing operation. Experts note that “cannabis plants require a lot of light, which typically emit a tremendous amount of heat. Without proper ventilation and air exchange, producers risk cooking their crop or limiting yields due to excess humidity, heat, or oxygen.” That makes the thoughtful selection of a system a key consideration.

the thoughtful selection of a system a key consideration. “HVAC SYSTEMS DESIGNED FOR CULTIVATION CAN HELP

“HVAC SYSTEMS DESIGNED FOR CULTIVATION CAN HELP THE GROWER TO EFFECTIVELY MANAGE CLIMATE CONSIDERATIONS.”

In planning an expanded growing operation, it makes sense to look for contractors who have specific expertise regarding indoor growing and greenhouse operations. HVAC systems designed for cultivation can help the grower to effectively manage climate considerations. Likewise, lighting and electrical experts can plan and deploy systems that maximize growing potential while limiting or controlling energy costs.

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next Levelexperts can plan and deploy systems that maximize growing potential while limiting or controlling energy costs.

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The Right Soil and Plants As growers move to make their operations more professional, many

The Right Soil and Plants

As growers move to make their operations more professional, many will want to pause and consider key elements such as grow mediums and plant genetics. Decisions made at the early stages could have long-term impact on the success of the operation.

Choosing the right grow medium is an essential part of gardening. With so many varieties of grow media available, it can be difficult to know which will work best for you.

You must choose one that suits both the needs of the plant and the needs of your system. Water retention, aeration, and pH balance are all aspects that vary depending on the medium and must be considered when making the final choice. Soil used for germinating may not be the same as the long-term growth medium.

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next Levelconsidered when making the final choice. Soil used for germinating may not be the same as

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Different soils may contain different concentrations of nutrients. Other grow mediums include rockwool, made from

Different soils may contain different concentrations of nutrients. Other grow mediums include rockwool, made from metal oxide or mineral fiber combined with heat and pressure, and perlite, which resembles tiny fish-tank rocks. Clay pellets are another option. Each has its pros and cons, depending on the grower’s specific situation. For any serious grower, this issue demands some scrutiny.

Do you start with seeds or clones? Like soil, this is a key consideration. With seeds, especially from a seed bank, a grower may have a good idea of exactly which type of plant will eventually emerge. On the flip side, not all seeds will germinate. Clones may give you a head start on growing, but may also include some inherited defects.

These are a few of the key elements growers will want to consider as they move to expand and modernize their operations.

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next Levelare a few of the key elements growers will want to consider as they move to

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Once these early decisions are made, many will view technology as the linchpin for their

Once these early decisions are made, many will view technology as the linchpin for their expansions. As noted above, the logistics of managing an expanded growing operation, combined with the pressures of an increasingly professional industry, challenge the small- and mid-sized grower to find more effective management techniques.

In this regard, sensors, remote monitoring, and off-site management tools can be key elements on the road to larger-scale, more professional growing operations. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the available technologies and consider how they may be implemented to drive higher yields while simultaneously liberating growers to operate more efficiently.

liberating growers to operate more efficiently. “SENSORS, REMOTE MONITORING, AND OFF-SITE MANAGEMENT TOOLS

“SENSORS, REMOTE MONITORING, AND OFF-SITE MANAGEMENT TOOLS CAN BE KEY ELEMENTS ON THE ROAD TO LARGER- SCALE, MORE PROFESSIONAL GROWING OPERATIONS.”

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next LevelOFF-SITE MANAGEMENT TOOLS CAN BE KEY ELEMENTS ON THE ROAD TO LARGER- SCALE, MORE PROFESSIONAL GROWING

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THE NEW TOOLS When a rapid expanse of operations threatens to overwhelm a grower’s time

THE NEW TOOLS

When a rapid expanse of operations threatens to overwhelm a grower’s time and resources, technology can be a powerful ally.

In recent years, large-scale commercial farmers have turned to a range of technological fixes to enhance their operations, from robotic agricultural equipment to GPS-guided precision planting. For the smaller grower, the rise of app-based technology promises to deliver similar results.

Wirelessly connected sensors, monitors, and delivery mechanisms all offer the farmer greater freedom and flexibility, higher consistency in operations, and access to data that can improve growing practices over time.

Let’s consider several areas where automation, wireless connectivity, and remote management can dovetail to help an operation move up to a higher level. These include irrigation, dosing, and environmental controls.

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next Leveldovetail to help an operation move up to a higher level. These include irrigation, dosing, and

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Irrigation Cannabis plants use a lot of water, so regardless of your setup, you’re going

Irrigation

Cannabis plants use a lot of water, so regardless of your setup, you’re going to want to make sure you have plenty of H2O. Manual watering methods are both imprecise and labor-intensive. Water ends up costing more than it should, and plants don’t always get what they need. A more refined technique is required for those seeking to scale up their operations.

Smart irrigation systems can improve crop quality and yield by optimizing water use to reduce over-watering, under-watering, and run-off. This helps growers to reduce the cost of water and also helps them to comply with environmental regulations that may dictate the location and amount that one may irrigate.

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next Levelhelps them to comply with environmental regulations that may dictate the location and amount that one

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““[WITH MANUAL WATERING,] WATER ENDS UP COSTING MORE THAN IT SHOULD, AND PLANTS DON’T ALWAYS

““[WITH MANUAL WATERING,] WATER ENDS UP COSTING MORE THAN IT SHOULD, AND PLANTS DON’T ALWAYS GET WHAT THEY NEED. A MORE REFINED TECHNIQUE IS REQUIRED FOR THOSE SEEKING TO SCALE UP THEIR OPERATIONS.”

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next LevelALWAYS GET WHAT THEY NEED. A MORE REFINED TECHNIQUE IS REQUIRED FOR THOSE SEEKING TO SCALE

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A comprehensive control system has the ability to regulate any type of pump, irrigation valve,

A comprehensive control system has the ability to regulate any type of pump, irrigation valve, flood floor, or flood table, and will manage irrigation based on the volumetric water content of your grow medium. A smart irrigation system will supply plants with the correct amount of water and provide growers with an increase in the consistency and profitability of their yields.

in the consistency and profitability of their yields. “SMART IRRIGATION SYSTEMS CAN IMPROVE CROP QUALITY AND

“SMART IRRIGATION SYSTEMS CAN IMPROVE CROP QUALITY AND YIELD BY OPTIMIZING WATER USE TO REDUCE OVER-WATERING, UNDER-WATERING, AND RUN-OFF.”

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next LevelCAN IMPROVE CROP QUALITY AND YIELD BY OPTIMIZING WATER USE TO REDUCE OVER-WATERING, UNDER-WATERING, AND RUN-OFF.”

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Fertigation Nutrient management is a critical cost control in the modern growing operation. While an

Fertigation

Nutrient management is a critical cost control in the modern growing operation. While an ample supply of nutrients is key to boosting yields, the expense associated with feeding requires that the grower take a thoughtful approach to the process.

A smart nutrient control system will monitor water reservoir and control nutrient dosing by measuring pH, conductivity temperature, and water level to enable the grower to maintain the balance of the system. Built into the design for both pressurized in-line and dilute tank applications, such systems can dose dozens of different recipes to multiple rooms and zones, taking much of the guesswork out of the process and ensuring a consistent application.

Automated dosing systems use differentiating ratios of A, B, and C nutrients to maintain proper nutrient and pH levels. They can be scheduled to work in coordination with smart irrigation systems for optimal balance and control. Here again, app-based remote management frees up the grower’s time while enabling constant control over these key variables.

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next Levelapp-based remote management frees up the grower’s time while enabling constant control over these key variables.

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Environment A smart environmental controller enables the grower to exercise constant control over a range

Environment

A smart environmental controller enables the grower to exercise constant control over a range of climate variables. Built-in controllers include I/O modules for data acquisition from connected sensors and precision equipment control. It may come equipped with sensors to measure aspects such as temperature, humidity, VPD, CO2, and light. Systems with native iOS and Android apps allow the grower to adjust any one of these variables without having to be physically present.

Settings make it possible to control the diverse variables independently or in synchronized fashion. Presets allow for day or night adjustments of temperature, humidity, and CO2 to keep these key metrics at desired set points.

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next Levelallow for day or night adjustments of temperature, humidity, and CO2 to keep these key metrics

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A single system can control multiple rooms or can be synchronized to manage the grow

A single system can control multiple rooms or can be synchronized to manage the grow across multiple facilities.

Automated dosing systems use differentiating ratios of A, B, and C nutrients to maintain proper nutrient and pH levels. They can be scheduled to work in coordination with smart irrigation systems for optimal balance and control. Here again, app-based remote management frees the grower’s time while enabling constant control over these key variables.

while enabling constant control over these key variables. “SYSTEMS WITH NATIVE IOS AND ANDROID APPS ALLOW

“SYSTEMS WITH NATIVE IOS AND ANDROID APPS ALLOW THE GROWER TO ADJUST [TEMPERATURE, HUMIDITY, ETC.] WITHOUT HAVING TO BE PHYSICALLY PRESENT.”

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next LevelAND ANDROID APPS ALLOW THE GROWER TO ADJUST [TEMPERATURE, HUMIDITY, ETC.] WITHOUT HAVING TO BE PHYSICALLY

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COMBINED SOLUTIONS For some time, growers have had access to various elements of the technology

COMBINED SOLUTIONS

For some time, growers have had access to various elements of the technology described here; sensors aren’t new, nor is remote monitoring. What excites many growers as they explore the latest technological advances is the emerging ability to bring together multiple dimensions of grow management in a single, unified platform.

Consider all the moving parts of a growing operation: HVAC, dehumidifiers, vents, lights, cameras, dosing, and irrigation systems. Some can be tweaked for greater effectiveness; some even offer a degree of automation. With the latest technologies, all of these systems can be tied together at a single point of control. That’s a huge potential win for those with expanding grow operations or those who are growing in multiple sites.

With a combined management application, off-site growers can more effectively manage their operations. Sensors deliver alerts across a range of variables, giving real-time visibility along with the power to adjust systems on the fly.

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next Levelalerts across a range of variables, giving real-time visibility along with the power to adjust systems

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“WHAT EXCITES MANY GROWERS AS THEY EXPLORE THE LATEST TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES IS THE EMERGING ABILITY

“WHAT EXCITES MANY GROWERS AS THEY EXPLORE THE LATEST TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES IS THE EMERGING ABILITY TO BRING TOGETHER MULTIPLE DIMENSIONS OF GROW MANAGEMENT IN A SINGLE, UNIFIED PLATFORM.”

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next LevelIS THE EMERGING ABILITY TO BRING TOGETHER MULTIPLE DIMENSIONS OF GROW MANAGEMENT IN A SINGLE, UNIFIED

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All of this can be done today with existing technologies. Looking ahead, ag tech experts

All of this can be done today with existing technologies. Looking ahead, ag tech experts say that surveillance will be the next big wave in grow technology. They plan to implement cameras, not just as a means of offering growers a visual check-in on their crops, but as a means to drive higher yields. For example, cameras paired with infrared sensors and artificial intelligence may soon deliver effective pest-control tools for growers who are not physically present. Such systems could also help growers to comply with evolving security concerns.

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next Levelgrowers who are not physically present. Such systems could also help growers to comply with evolving

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DATA FOR THE LONG TERM In addition to unified remote control, the latest technologies offer

DATA FOR THE LONG TERM

In addition to unified remote control, the latest technologies offer another, sometimes overlooked benefit to the expanding grow operation: the delivery of data over time.

Consider the manually based grow operation. It’s hard to know exactly how much water or nutrient mixture was delivered to which plants at what time. Realistically, the record-keeping task alone makes this a dubious prospect. But there’s tremendous value in such information. The data-driven grower can replicate successful results, and can make adjustments when crops deliver less-than-optimal yields.

adjustments when crops deliver less-than-optimal yields. “IT’S HARD TO KNOW EXACTLY HOW MUCH WATER OR NUTRIENT

“IT’S HARD TO KNOW EXACTLY HOW MUCH WATER OR NUTRIENT MIXTURE WAS DELIVERED TO WHICH PLANTS AT WHAT TIME.”

Big commercial farms have already discovered the power of data. “Several well-known investors recently dropped a combined $40 million into Farmers Business Network, a data analytics startup. Venture capital has flooded the ag tech space, with investment increasing 80% annually since 2012,” Forbes reports.

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next Levelcapital has flooded the ag tech space, with investment increasing 80% annually since 2012,” Forbes reports

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The report goes on: “Sensors on fields and crops are starting to provide literally granular

The report goes on: “Sensors on fields and crops are starting to provide literally granular data points on soil conditions, as well as detailed info on wind, fertilizer requirements, water availability and pest infestations. GPS units on tractors, combines and trucks can help determine optimal usage of heavy equipment.”

Even small- and mid-size growers can make use of such advances as they look forward and plan to build out their operations. Today’s management systems make this possible by tracking and accumulating data over time. Growers who compile reports can see at a glance which watering regimen drove the best results, which nutrient mix delivered the most promising results, and other critical information.

Sensors and controllers don’t just make growing simpler; they make it significantly smarter. That’s important for growers looking to compete in an increasingly commercialized, professionalized arena. Cannabis is no longer a hobbyist’s game. With widespread legalization, marijuana has entered the realm of legitimate agriculture, and it’s high time for growers to take advantage of the latest technologies to compete in that bigger arena.

How Technology Can Take Your Cannabis Grow to the Next Leveland it’s high time for growers to take advantage of the latest technologies to compete in

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grow link TM

grow link TM About Growlink Growlink is an agriculture technology company that connects growers to their

About Growlink

Growlink is an agriculture technology company that connects growers to their operations. We build well-designed, tightly integrated hardware and software products that enable you to work smarter, providing wireless automation and control, data collection, monitoring, optimization, and visualization. All in one platform.

Growlink 875 Kalamath Denver, CO 80204

info@growlink.com

All in one platform. Request a Consultation Growlink 875 Kalamath Denver, CO 80204 800-432-0160 info@growlink.com