How Important is Automation for Hobbyist Growers?
As cannabis evolves with widespread legalization efforts, new technologies arise in conjunction with the expanding industry. While advancements in the tech space are doubtlessly exciting, it can be tough to discern what equipment is better suited for commercial production, as opposed to home-based growing.
Whether you are looking at fertigation systems or trim machines, there are automated options for almost every phase of cannabis production. Yet, with so many options on the market, hobbyist cultivators must discern how much automation is really necessary.
Not only are certain automation options only suited for commercial cultivation, but some people feel too much automation can hinder your development as a grower.
To help you find a balance for modern technology in your indoor garden, we put together this brief exploration into practical automation options for hobbyist growers.
Sizing Up Your Garden & Assessing Your Lifestyle
All automated cannabis cultivation technologies are engineered to reduce human labor. This equipment helps alleviate the work required to regulate growroom environments, as well as take care of the plants themselves. To understand how this labor-reducing technology can best be utilized, it’s a good idea to assess your operation and lifestyle.
The scope of your cannabis grow is a great starting point for weighing automation options. To illustrate, a small 4x4 grow tent will always require less tech than a 400 sq. ft growroom. Therefore, understanding where your garden lies in the spectrum of production will help you hone in on the appropriate equipment.
Many people fail to consider their lifestyle when designing an indoor cannabis garden. However, it’s worth noting, people with a more demanding schedule will likely benefit from automation more than those with more availability. For example, if you live alone and work from home, you will likely have more time to spend with your plants than a parent who commutes to a full-time job.
Automation Options for Regulating Grow Room Environments
Controlling growroom environments is the most traditional way automation has been used in cannabis cultivation. There are some key pieces of technology that work well for both commercial and hobbyist growers, while some only favor a single segment.
Nearly all indoor cannabis gardens utilize environmental controllers of some sort. More advanced controllers are integrated with computer software to manage massive gardens according to very detailed, pre-established schedules. Conversely, the most basic environmental controllers operate on simple sensors and electrical relays.
To ensure the best growing environment possible for your cannabis plants, we recommend integrating an environmental controller of some sort. Even the smallest gardens benefit from a simple temperature controller that regulates power through relays to heating and cooling sources. These products start at $50 and are easy to use. Beyond that, some hobbyist growers opt for complex systems that control such things as lights and CO2 — but these systems are overkill for most small producers.
Integrated Inline Fan Systems
For growing cannabis in a tent, there is no better option for regulating temperature and humidity than inline fans. While tent growers shouldn’t “break the bank” on unnecessary automation options, fans that integrate with special controllers should be considered.
Inline Fan companies like AC Infinity have designed exhaust systems specifically for grow tents. Their T Series feature digital controls with well-balanced automation options that are appropriate for small gardens. With these products, you can effortlessly regulate temperature and humidity in your tent without overspending.
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Automated Technology for Irrigation
Equipment manufacturers have also developed a good deal of automation options for watering plants. While there are ample options on the market for irrigation automation, many people regard these technologies as non-essential when compared to environmental controllers.
Drain to Waste & Recirculating Hydro
Perhaps the most longstanding automation method for cannabis irrigation comes with hydroponic systems. Whether you grow with a drain-to-waste or recirculating hydro system, a simple timer and pump integration is all you need to automate your garden.
Depending on your level of expertise, hydroponic setups can be good choices for hobbyist growers. The most basic setups are highly affordable and not overly technologized with unnecessary sensors and monitors.
Nutrient Delivery Systems
One of the most important new automation technologies for commercial growers is nutrient delivery systems. The idea with these systems is to reduce human error in the nutrient “measure and pour” practice traditionally used by cannabis growers. While advanced nutrient delivery systems are a serious boon for commercial businesses, they are beyond the scope of necessity for most hobbyist growers.
Soil Drip Systems
Drip systems are simple automation options that blend soil growing with hydroponic production. By adding a simple reservoir, pump, and timer setup to your soil garden, you can utilize automation when it is convenient. Simply set your timer and keep your watering chores covered when other obligations arise.
Due to their simplicity and affordability, soil drip systems are another good automation option for home-based growers.
Summary: Do You Need Automation in Your Home Grow?
The cannabis industry of today barely resembles that of 10 years ago. Whether it be in the growroom or extraction lab, the new legal market has stimulated a creative exchange between plant-touching companies and technology businesses. While the rise of so many new technologies is extremely exciting, it takes a somewhat discerning eye to know which pieces of equipment are appropriate for a small garden.
In the end, your automation choices should balance your time in the garden with overall life convenience. While using the latest gadgets can be tons of fun, the only way to really learn more about growing cannabis is by spending ample time with your plants. Yet, with so many cool technologies at our fingertips today, it’s okay to lighten your workload with the appropriate tools.
AC Infinity is the foremost name in air delivery systems, designing and developing the latest innovations in cooling and ventilation technology. They offer a suite of quiet inline fans that automate the growing progress and track key metrics. Visit acinfinity.com or contact [email protected] to learn more.
Written by Kent Gruetzmacher | Writer, Owner of KCG Content
Kent Gruetzmacher MFA is a Colorado-based writer and owner of the writing and marketing firm KCG Content. Kent has been working in the cannabis and hydroponics space for over a decade. Beginning in California in 2009, he has held positions in cultivation, operations, marketing, and business development. Looking specifically to writing, Kent has worked with many of the leading publications and marketing agencies in the cannabis space. His writing has been recognized by such icons as Steve D’Angelo and Rick Simpson.