Nestled among the hills of Oregon lies Panacea Valley Gardens, a minority-founded, -owned, and -operated cannabusiness.
Panacea Valley Gardens, based in Portland, is run by Jesce Horton, the chairman of the Minority Cannabis Business Association. The business specializes in medicinal cultivation techniques and makes use of 20,000 square feet of growing area. Panacea Valley Gardens also incorporates an adult-use dispensary. Even though the executive board is comprised of minorities, Panacea Valley Gardens makes news for an additional reason.
PVG bases its sustainability on three attributes: plant efficiency, energy efficiency, and resource efficiency. Cannefficiency takes into account energy expenditure, noting that, on average, as much as 200 pounds of coal would produce enough electricity for only 1 pound of indoor cannabis. Panacea Valley Gardens implements “strictly organic cultivation under the Oregon Sun,” as well as cocoa and pure hydroponic methods. The carbon footprint of cannabis weighs heavily on Horton’s mind, and efficiency throughout the entire process results in using every bit of the cannabis plant post-harvest. Stems, roots, leaves, and leftover soil are all reutilized as either food, such as the fan leaves and stems, or fertilizer, as in the roots and soil. Additionally, recycling seemingly “toss-able” parts of the cannabis plant help spend less on resources like nutrients.
In an industry where high-functioning technology is crucial, and electric bills soar, cannefficiency is created through energy-efficient cultivation practices. As critical as energy-efficient machinery is, though, monitoring the energy output with components like programmable logic controllers and smart meters help keep a gauge on energy expenditure. There are some simple ways to implement sustainable initiatives to grow operations across the country.
For indoor and greenhouse growers specifically, energy expenditure accounts for a massive chunk of the budget each month. An estimated 75 percent lower cost of power is expected during the change from strictly indoor growth techniques to a greenhouse-only approach. Additionally, installing LED lights could potentially save 40-50 percent on monthly power allotments. A greenhouse set-up is a great way to find an energy-efficient middle ground between indoor and outdoor growing styles but comes with its own set of pros and cons.
Greenhouse growth year-round requires third-party supplemented lighting, and vice versa, light deprivation controls. Regardless of how the greenhouse is utilized, whether it be year-round or temporarily during times of warmer weather, growth operations must be adequately equipped with light options that conserve energy and save costs in the long run.
Automatic dimmers are a way to control the output of lighting throughout and indoor or greenhouse environment, and allowing as much fresh air and direct, or manufactured, sunlight in as possible is crucial. So far, the industry doesn’t have a standard lightbulb, but as legalization improves, specific brands and trends may begin to make themselves evident.
To monitor overheating and humidity levels, greenhouses are ventilated, and indoor facilities might use HVAC systems. Although this process allows for airflow from the outside world, akin to an outdoor operation, it also heightens the chance of pests entering and damaging the crops. An influx of outdoor air also throws off the amount of CO2 in the greenhouse or indoor operation’s airflow, which alters the rate at which the plants grow. Another airborne potential is cross-pollination, meaning that pollen meant for outside flowers permeates the greenhouse air ducts and improperly pollinates the cannabis plants.
For growers relying on stereotypical power, the state of California is your friend. Pacific Gas and Electric announced that the company is offering agricultural power rates to licensed cannabis producers to help cut heating and cooling costs state-wide. For those interested in solar power, energy storage systems charged by solar-powered batteries are the new wave of tech. Lithium batteries provide electricity on-demand and can be recharged through solar collection processes. Cannabis requires a constant 77 degrees F temperature and room humidity no lower than 56 percent, and greenhouses use the sun’s rays to produce that equilibrium naturally.
When perusing the options for temperature control devices, those made for indoor pools are readily applicable to indoor grow scenarios. Designed to incorporate heating, cooling, dehumidifying action, and efficient water recovery, these systems are perfect for small to medium facilities. Anything more significant would need specific heating machinery versus cooling machinery and so on.
In an industry where high-functioning technology is crucial, and electric bills soar, cannefficiency is created through energy-efficient cultivation practices. There are some simple ways to implement sustainable initiatives to grow operations across the country.
Greenhouse set-ups typically require 7.5 L of soil per 30 cm of plant height. Sufficiently watering that sheer area takes an enormous amount of water. Luckily, hydroponic systems have taken root in the cannabis industry and are faring quite well. Of note, though, most hydroponics nutrients contain GMOs, harsh salts, and fillers that harm the plants; this invasion interferes with pH levels and nutrient levels in the soil.
Reverse osmosis systems and reclamation also return expended water to the plants. When used alongside whole house water filtration processes, the water cycle can be naturally reproduced in a monitored environment. Collecting rainwater in barrels, pools, and containment structures allow for less human effort being put forth to supply adequate water, but that obviously wouldn’t work in drought-ridden areas.
Marijuana plants can quickly be oversaturated, so finding a line between wilting and drowning the plants will help conserve water dramatically.
In Washington state alone since 2014, more than 1.7 million pounds of cannabis waste has compiled. Since there are no federal standards for waste removal set forth by legislators, each grow operation deals with byproducts, i.e., soil, excess vegetation, stems, differently. Check state protocol, because most states have specific requirements based on the product’s status as either usable or unusable waste. In Colorado, the soil is allowed to be reused, but only by the original grower.
Wastewater produced during marijuana grow operation and processing is considered hazardous waste; some jurisdictions consider buds, trims, roots, stalks, leaves, and residue as dangerous as well, so it’s essential to consult on proper disposal requirements. Considering marijuana byproducts garbage also gives police forces the right to search and seize any byproducts, without a warrant, due to the plant itself still being considered a Schedule I drug.