Cannabis facility design trends might not have the hype and turnover of the kitchen design trends you see on HGTV. But cannabis facility design evolves in step with the rest of the fast-moving, ever-evolving cannabis industry—it might not stoke mainstream excitement, but within the industry, the changes underway now are transformative. Adopting some of these technologies can result in a compelling ROI, increased yields and better-utilized space.
So what choices will cultivators make this year as they build new grows in emerging markets like Missouri and New York and retrofit existing facilities in legal states like Colorado, California and Oregon? We have a few insights on where cannabis cultivators can save money, maximize square footage and adopt exciting new technologies before their competitors catch on. Curious what facility design trends will define 2023? Here’s the hot topics we anticipate in the months to come:
Low-hanging cannabis facility design opportunities
1. LED lighting. At this point, there is virtually no good reason not to install quality LED cultivation lighting in your new facility, or to convert from HID to LED at an existing grow. Look at the best flower on the market today from some of the most successful cultivators—that herb was likely grown under LEDs, and for lower overhead costs than the competition. Get with the program and capitalize on available LED rebates and incentives, while they last.
2. Automated fertilizer injection and nutrient delivery. We’re nearly a quarter of the way through the 21st century—it’s time to stop hand-watering plants. It’s simply not necessary to follow complex recipes or tweak your fertigation blend for each crop when the truth is, the most successful commercial cultivators are following the recipe on the back of the box.
These days, there are a variety of low-cost, dependable fertilizers that will top-quality cannabis, especially if they are applied to crops with the consistency only automation can provide. Hand-watering increases the probability of human error and mishap, and it increases labor costs. Instead, invest in fertilizer automation, plug your preferred nutrient brand’s mix into the irrigation controller and monitor the runoff on the other side. This is an upgrade that will pay for itself in more ways than one.
3. Remote monitoring and control. It turns out, you can buy peace of mind. Simple and effective monitoring and control systems provide operators with real-time environmental and irrigation tracking and visibility, from wherever you might be. You can stay abreast of lighting abnormalities, temperature and humidity thresholds, equipment failures and other parameters on your phone, tablet or computer.
You can even program these systems to notify owners, cultivation staff, maintenance crews and other key personnel if alarm bells are going off and some area of the grow needs attention. Remote monitoring and control systems are available at a variety of price points from out-of-the-box setups like Trolmaster to more granular tools like the Dilution Solutions Intelligent Nutrient Delivery Controller to ultra-specialized environmental controls like the Argus Titan.
Worthwhile cannabis commercial facility upgrades
4. Vertical racking. Vertical grows aren’t exactly new, but they are more accessible than ever. Setting up racked cultivation is still more expensive at the outset and presents certain challenges that more traditional facility design structures do not. But this is one of the first moments in cannabis cultivation history that improvements in decking, automation and ventilation make vertical racking a real possibility for almost any grower with adequate ceiling height. We love the MMI Agriculture Solutions Retractable Elevated Decking system, for example, especially when integrated with the Dual Draft Integrated Tray System. It’s tools like these that are making vertical grows feasible with less risk and less labor.
5. Integrated air conditioning and dehumidification. LED lights aren’t the only way to score cost-saving rebates. There are more programs than ever, incentivizing upgrades to cannabis cultivation HVAC systems that run more efficiently. Integrated HVAC systems combine what were once two separate and costly pieces of infrastructure and reduce competition between the two functions. Not only do you take the guesswork out of creating an ideal indoor environment for cannabis plants, you can also save a lot on utilities in the long term.
Next-gen cannabis cultivation tech
6. Dissolved oxygen irrigation systems. If you know, you know—dissolved oxygen is a total game-changer when it comes to maintaining a healthy and clean root system. More oxygen in the root zone can mean more roots, more fruits and overall quality increases for your garden. All while keeping irrigation lines and storage tanks squeaky clean. After checking out the nanobubble tech from brands like Moleaer and Enrichment Systems, we’ll never go back to air stones again.
7. Tissue cultures for storing and restoring genetics. Until now, tissue culture for storing and cleaning cannabis genetics has been too much of a moving target for most operators. We’ve seen more cannabis tissue culture operations fail than succeed over the years, which is why we were skeptical when we first saw the newly released Athena Culture Kit, which is marketed as an all-in-one solution, even for novice geneticists.
The verdict is still out on whether or not a deep strain library can be maintained within the Culture Kit’s small footprint, or whether or not an average-skilled director of propagation can successfully learn the art and science of tissue cultures and implement it on a commercial scale. But this is a promising hint at the future of how genetics can be incorporated into a grow’s facility design and equipment selection choices, and how tissue culture may go from niche to mainstream over the next few years.
While it’s important not to chase hype and to master the gear you have, we feel strongly that if you’re not paying attention to the advancements in equipment, systems and techniques going on around you, you will most likely be left behind. We hope these predictions help you cut through the noise and clearly strategize how your grow can, well, grow in 2023. If you have questions on how to best design and equip your greenhouse or warehouse cultivation facility, you always know whom to ask.
Ready to talk about how to optimize your new or existing cannabis cultivation facility? Give us a shout and we would be happy to discuss your project.