GROWING EXPOSED EPISODE 10: Water Grows Weed
Growing Exposed is a new video series produced by Jeremy Deichen. Coined “the MTV Cribs of the marijuana industry” the show is led by host Amanda Mackay. Growing Exposed has found a unique way to open up the once underground world, revealing the secrets of industry leaders. In addition to garden tours, David Robinson, author of The Grower’s Handbook lends his expertise in a segment entitled Teachings of The Garden Sage. David has dedicated his life to dispelling the myths behind cannabis while educating people on how plants grow.
A desert off the Las Vegas strip with summer heat that gets well over 100 degree does not sound like the prime location to grow first class cannabis cannabis, but there is a 42,000 square-foot facility that has ingenious solutions to grow the best weed around. In a short group tour, we took a look at Cannabiotix. Cannabiotix grows 27 unique strains and is devoted to sanitation and water conservation in order to adequately quench the thirst of their plants, even in the case of a drought.
Before entering the veg room, Cannabiotix requires you to suit up in quarantine and take an air shower to prevent the spread of outside contaminants, pests, and fungus. All plants are top-fed and kept in coco/perlite mix and are hand-watered. Every strain requires different things, so automating feeding schedules is not an option. Veg is the most delicate stage in the growth cycle, so it is also the most labour-intensive requiring around 4-5 workers watering and tending plants every day.
Being in the desert requires some serious cooling and water systems, but thankfully Cannabiotix is well on top of that issue. They have built a large system involving an air separator that delivers air through a dehumidifier that reclaims excess water out of the air and sends it to water chillers outside the facility. The water is filtered using Hydrologic ARCS systems and is de-chlorinated, sanitary, and ready for re-use.
Every 4-5 weeks, Cannabiotix are pulling 400-500 lbs of cannabis. In the flower room, which contains 460 lights for flowering, Cannabiotix harvests full plants and hang-dry traditionally for about 5-7 days, and trim the buds by hand. This method is unprecedented in the commercial market as people want faster results, less labour cost. However, David Lloyd of Cannabiotix believes the quality they get from hand-trim and hang-dry greatly outweighs any of the monetary benefits of quick, speedy low cost trimmers.
Cannabiotix reclaims all their water from a system made by a company called Hydrologic from Santa Cruz, California. What is so important about water purification and filtration in cannabis cultivation? Let’s find out.
Richard Gellert is the owner of Hydrologic purification systems, where they create the best water systems in the world. Hydrologic manufactures all their systems themselves in their Santa Cruz 20,000 square foot facility, such as the ARCS system used by Cannabiotix. ARCS stands for “Automated Reclaimed Condensate System”, which takes all your air conditioning and dehumidification water and reclaims it as very pure, 0 PPM, pH neutral and sterile water.
How did Hydrologic come to be? Richard was a grower and wanted a Reverse Osmosis filtration system. He bought one he found on the shelves, brought it home and realised it was poor quality. So he returned it back to the store and found out it was all the distributors carried. So he went and built his own system, brought it to the store that he bought the original one, and showed it to them. They wanted to buy some and his business took off from there on out.
People that grow with RO water could never go back to tap water as there are so many unknown contaminants. Water quality around the world varies greatly, especially when you’re on city water. By removing chlorine and chloramines and other biocides. By removing those contaminants with dechlorinators, such as the BigBoy, the Tall Boy, or the SmallBoy, you can get low PPM clean water for your plants and even for drinking water. RO systems will be the Evolution, Stealth and Micro systems that filter water to 0 PPMs for the best possible uptake of nutrients and healthy plants.
The Garden Sage David Robinson gives his insight on water conservation in the grow room:
“We have come to rightfully view fresh water as our most precious planetary resource. We all want to live on a green planet, and to live on a green planet we have a wet planet. To maintain our wet planet we have to conserve our precious fresh water.
Cannabis producers are often very environmentally-minded people. So, we see a trend towards building grow facilities with an eye for water conservation and an eye for water reclamation. Plants actually transpire 99% of the water they take up; they pull an unbroken chain of water from the rootzone and transpire it out into the atmosphere. Therefore, when gardening in contained environments like indoor gardens or greenhouses, through the use of dehumidification technology we can reclaim this water.
Previously, we could not reuse this water as it was contaminated with aluminium. Now with the advent of Quest dehumidification systems, this water is now clean enough to be used to irrigate the plants. So if plants are transpiring 99% of the water they take up and we’re reclaiming it, the water input to the grow facility is actually very minimal. We’re also using cooling equipment that no longer requires the use of water, therefore these indoor gardens are becoming the most efficient for water use they can possibly be.
Now, we are looking at a grow facility that reclaims their water with dehumidifiers called Utopia Farms. Utopia Farms is a small facility growing their staple C Banana strain, plus some high . Full-spectrum T5 lights and lots of air circulation, plus Quest Dehumidification systems, are their tools of the trade.
All floors are elevated in this facility to allow for drainage so there is no need for tables. Their drainage systems, air conditioners and dehumidifiers are all used to reclaim water back into their reservoirs for water conservation and reuse around 60% of their own water.
Quest Dehumidifiers are the best in the world, and for good reason. They are the only air conditioner that tests to ensure the runoff is at 0 parts per billion of copper and aluminium. The water is pH 7, just like distilled water, and is completely sanitary. Lesser brands require massive filtration systems to do the same function to remove these heavy metals. Respect to Quest!
Although they are a small facility, Utopia Farms is not a small name at the Emerald Cup. They have won awards for their flowers, edibles and extracts. If you have watched the show you know most of our content revolves around the grow room, usually inside the garden or profiling some sort of equipment used in the hydroponic industry. The Emerald Cup in Los Angeles, Nicknamed ‘The Grower’s Cup’ for its popularity amongst cannabis farmers, it really is a place where people come to not only compete, but to socialize and enjoy the cannabis culture.
In this episode of Growing Exposed, we packed a lot of variety: a class A facility in San Francisco called Cannabiotix, Hydrologic Purification Systems, and a smaller facility called Utopia farms, as well as an insider’s look at the famous Emerald Cup in Los Angeles. We learned why conserving water is extremely cost-effective and why it’s so important for the environment. For more Growing Exposed, and for behind-the-scenes, tune in at GrowingExposed.com and make sure to follow Growing Exposed on Facebook and Instagram.