Marijuana is the next gold rush in the US and technology in the industry is advancing at breakneck speed. While the primary driver of this advancement is commercial cannabis farming, the technology is trickling down to the consumer market and changing the way home growers raise cannabis.
Although the needs of home growers aren’t as demanding as their commercial counterparts, their top concerns are practically the same: automate routine tasks to save time, lower lighting costs, and increase watering efficiency. However, the cost of the solutions for these concerns have been a great hindrance for home growers who rarely grow for profit.
Nevertheless, companies are recognizing that personal scale cannabis growing is a burgeoning market, especially now that marijuana laws are relaxing, which is why we are now seeing more high-tech home growing solutions get even cheaper every year. In the discussion below, we’ll look at some of these newer products in the consumer market and how you can use them to improve your home growing.
If you are using soil or a similar solid growing medium, a water or moisture sensor is one of best yet cheapest investments you can make.
Home growers usually aren’t as measured with water as commercial growers since a few plants won’t use up an amount that will make a significant impact on the cost of operation. But you should be mindful of the amount of water you use since it can make a huge impact on your plant’s health. We all know what underwatering does but overwatering is just as dangerous since it can restrict oxygen flow to the roots, drowning your plant. An overly moist soil or growing medium can also become a breeding ground for harmful pests, bacteria, and fungi.
Watering mistakes is a common pitfall for new growers. Instead on relying on cues above ground, you can use a water sensor to know exactly how much water is in your growing medium, in the spot nearest to the roots. You can use something as simple as the XLUX soil moisture meter or go with the Northfifteen smart plant monitor that can connect to your smartphone.
Automated hydroponic systems
Hydroponics and its variations are considered the pinnacle of home growing since it gives you greater control over your plant’s water and nutrient intake. This maximizes your effort and resources, giving you yields that are otherwise impossible to achieve in soil. However, these setups need a lot of experience to put together and maintain and while the rewards are great, the risks are just as big, so much that a simple mistake can total all of your plants.
If you want to try hydroponics but are unsure of how to properly maintain it, you may want to get a hydroponic controller like EZ Gro Garden’s Hydroponic Irrigation Controller to automate maintenance tasks. Not only will a controller save you time, it will also reduces the risks that may be caused by human intervention. Although controllers like these are common in commercial setups, they typically cost a thousand dollars or more as opposed to EZ Gro Garden’s unit which costs only $166.
Smart grow boxes
Now if you really want to fully automate your grow, there are products for that. But expect that they won’t be cheap.
Smart grow boxes are essentially mini greenhouses where you can control and automate all aspects of growing. These are for people who would rather “leave the machine to do its thing” for fear of messing things up. These grow boxes require very little effort from the grower but this is what makes them expensive. Some examples would be the Grobo Grow Box and Seedo which provide your plant with light, nutrients, water, air, all in a sealed environment. Although this all sounds very easy and ideal, the convenience does come at a hefty $1999 price tag.
Smart LED lights
Home growers have been shifting from HPS to LEDs for a while now with the latter’s price continually dropping year after year. Newer LED grow lights are also more versatile and allow you to change color temperatures better suited to the growing phase your plant is in. While most home growers would already find this sufficient, those who want to push the quality of their buds will be delighted to know that a Korean company has come up with LED lights that vows to provide the “right kind” of light that your cannabis plant needs.
The Sherpa Light is a smart LED growing light that can mimic the kind of sunlight in different parts of the world and change it accordingly depending on the requirements of your plant at a particular stage of its growth. This means that if you are growing a cultivar not native to your region, it can still get the right kind of light that will bring out the characteristics it is sought after.
Even if you only grow marijuana as a hobby, it is still a good idea to explore new growing products and solutions since these can pay off in the long run and tremendously improve your growing experience which is, after all, what most hobbyists are after. Having a good set of LEDs that can cut down your lighting costs overtime, in conjunction with a reliable automated hydroponic setup will likely minimize your mistakes and increase your chances of repeating successful grows that you can try and improve even further.