The Use of Carbon Dioxide in Cultivation Facilities
There is more to a cannabis cultivation facility than just a greenhouse. While trends in the cannabis space have continued to rapidly expand the production of indoor, controlled cultivation facilities is currently at an all-time high.
When it comes to these facilities, overall cultivation licenses are currently among the most competitive to source in the United States. The lack of national oversight has necessitated that individual states take on the all-encompassing oversight role. From permitting through to tax collection, each state must create its own set of rules and regulations for the industry to follow. And while some have begun to replicate models created in previous states this loose network of rulemaking can also lead to a variety of disparate restrictions like limiting the number of grow licenses or the square footage of facilities. For example, Marijuana Network stated, "The state of Florida only issued seven cultivation licenses while New York just extended its limit from five to ten!"
Of course, building a cultivation facility may not be advised for just anyone. It's expensive, it's complicated, and requires proper maintenance. Yet, with the right construction, personnel, and process, the end results could not be more lucrative.
What to consider when constructing a cultivation facility?
Troy Dayton states, "Aside from cryptocurrency, there is simply no other industry changing as rapidly or as unevenly as the cannabis sector". Like most large commercial investments, construction is key, and it's all about the location. When it comes to building a cultivation facility, in order to grow, climate plays a major role. Cultivators need to recognize even the smallest of influences, such as sunlight, wind, and previous natural disasters, could all play a disastrous role.
Another location consideration is the proximity to the intended target audience. How closely can you build a facility to your distribution points and eventually the intended consumer? Does local zoning allow for your facility within city limits? Will you have any transportation concerns or risk violation of DOT regulations as well?
Finding the correct location is just as important for a grow facility as any other local business.
While licensing applications are critical, zoning laws can vary depending upon the state and local jurisdiction. It is always recommended to gain the expertise of a general contractor to manage the construction process of any facility. Zoning laws can differentiate by different state and locality. What is required in two neighboring towns might be completely different? Building your facility to code can become excessively difficult given the crop you are producing. Local code officials will require additional information and education throughout the process. Some local zoning requirements to note are set-backs from schools, air purification prior to discharge, power consumption in a certain grid, and even security protocols.
Carbon Dioxide Safety
With so many variables at play when it comes to operating a large cultivation facility, it is no surprise that a vital component of any operation is ensuring the proper amount of CO2 is supplemented, and proper safety precautions are in place.
Growers can increase yields by using carbon dioxide enrichment specifically between 800-1,500 ppm. With the addition of quality lighting, soil, irrigation, and supplements can create a 20-30% increased crop yield. The overall result of any CO2 enriched facility is a high-quality grow space that can produce a product more quickly and efficiently, cutting energy costs, and increasing overall revenue.
Tips for Properly Enriching Plants with CO2
Have the right light - the rule of thumb: 7500-1000 lumens per sq foot will allow for the full benefits of CO2 enrichment at 800-1,500ppm
- Seal the space - prevents CO2 from leaking out and will maintain your CO2 levels
- Temperature - many growers recommend between 85F and 95F for CO2 to be the most beneficial
- AirFlow - For the best results, have your HVAC system pull from the floor level to pull CO2 up off the floor. Or, direct a fan upwards from floor level to keep CO2 circulating and evenly dispersed and efficiently over the crop
- Rest - Your plants don't take in CO2 when the lights are off, so don't waste valuable Carbon Dioxide when the plants are "sleeping". Use a controller with a light sensor embedded.
When we look at the effects of carbon dioxide specifically on crops, the impact can be extraordinary, yet there are also clear safety precautions that need to be in place to protect individuals in the grow space. Contractors or growers specializing in cannabis development, often know the importance and benefits of CO2 in the grow cycle, however, they seldom understand the negative personal effects that CO2 can have on an individual's health. Plants use carbon dioxide in order to gain more energy and with more energy, comes strength and an increase in overall yield.
What indoor growers may not realize is that high levels of CO2 can also be dangerous. Any sealed, closed, indoor space such as an indoor cultivation facility or grow room can not only assist in plant growth but also can trap dangerous levels of carbon dioxide. These elevated CO2 levels around personnel can lead to severe negative health effects such as dizziness, nausea, and even death.
Much like the effects of carbon dioxide in indoor air quality, the same personal health effects need to be monitored in the grow space. For decades, it was noted that higher CO2 levels generally enhanced cannabis growth and that CO2 levels had little to no impact on human cognition or overall well being. Recent research and studies have uncovered the exact opposite such as the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study, "Is CO2 an Indoor Pollutant" to prove otherwise.
Both Harvard, and LBNL have stated, "CO2 levels can directly affect the brain, and if you have a grow room with elevated levels of CO2, the best research says you need to minimize the time you spend in it. You also need to consider purchasing a CO2 monitor for everyday use".
How to ensure CO2 Safety in Grow Facilities?
An average CO2 monitor typically includes the ability to measure carbon dioxide concentrations alone or also includes additional capabilities for measuring temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, or particulate matter. One should take note that when using a fixed carbon dioxide monitor or handheld device, you should never place the instrument near any ventilation that could directly interfere with the device taking and reporting accurate readings.
After you have spent thousands of dollars perfecting the perfect cultivation grow room facility, only a real-time CO2 monitor can guarantee that your plants are getting the right amount of CO2 and that your employees and team members are protected.
These are just a few of the top carbon dioxide safety monitors, handheld detectors, and CO2 sensors for cultivators in the cannabis industry.
CO2 Multi-Sensor System (CM-7000)
The CO2 Multi-Sensor System is designed to detect Carbon Dioxide (CO2) levels in the ambient air to protect employees, workers, and establishments.
The CM-7000 meets all local jurisdictional code requirements for safety monitoring and features audible/visual alarms, user-configurable alarm and sensor configurations, relay outputs for safety control, and a unique lockout function. The device was designed to meet OSHA/NIOSH standards and local fire codes in regards to CO2 safety monitoring. The modern, 8" tablet design offers a clean and effective way to set-up and monitors multiple spaces independently.
With the CM-7000, large-scale cultivation facilities can have peace of mind in ensuring employees are safe, and should an incident occur rely on the CM-7000's ability to trigger an exhaust fan, trip a solenoid shut-off valve, or send an immediate alarm to the fire department or monitoring company.
GrowFlux CO2 Microclimate Sensor and Access Point
The GrowFlux Microclimate CO2 Sensor can remotely monitor microclimates and CO2 levels, making critical measurements available from anywhere on your smartphone or PC. With the wireless and battery-powered design, the sensor can be placed anywhere among the crop, allowing growers to pinpoint enrichment dead zones and stratification.
The GrowFlux Microclimate CO2 sensor features a splash-resistant housing with a hydrophobic gas sensing membrane and is suitable for use in greenhouses, cultivation facilities, and indoor farms. Paired with the GrowFlux Access Point, the device enables the user for cloud-based data logging and helps growers collect the right data every time.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Handheld Data Logger
The GasLab Plus CM-501 is a Carbon Dioxide (CO2) handheld gas detector and data logger designed to measure carbon dioxide gas concentrations in many agriculture facilities and grow spaces. With long-term data logging to a micro SD card, the user can retrieve and analyze the data at a late time.
Which CO2 Monitor is Right for You?
First, you must consider your application. Are you monitoring air quality levels for CO2, trying to control the gas concentration in your grow space, or monitoring for safety purposes?
One of the most common phone conversations we have with customers is to help educate them about the right devices for their application. They are often surprised when we help them find the right device and they begin to understand the overall benefits of their new CO2 monitor.
Are you looking for more information in regards to Agriculture CO2 solutions? Let our COMeter experts help educate you about devices for your application today by calling 877-67804259 or emailing us at Sales@CO2Meter.com.