A Cultivator’s Secret Sauce: Controls and Automation

As branding and strain consistency grows increasingly important in the cannabis industry, cultivators are looking for solutions to give them more controllability and more repeatability. The key may lie in utilizing controls and automation to monitor data and adjust environmental variables accordingly.
May 14, 2019

Know Your Grow

As the cannabis industry continues to explode across North America, cultivators are beginning to feel the effects of free enterprise, and the importance of branding has never been more apparent. While there is currently a rush to build and be the first to get products to market, the businesses that will come out on top are those who can produce the highest quality and, more importantly, consistency, at the lowest cost.

What Is Your Recipe?

Just as consumers expect the same fizzy taste every time they crack open a Coca Cola®, cannabis consumers increasingly are searching for suppliers who can provide them with the same experience every time they make a purchase. The key to growing a consistent crop is by collecting and tracking data to optimize, and standardize, the cultivation process. In the same way that Coca Cola® uses the same recipe when creating its iconic soda, cultivators should strive to maintain their cultivation environment consistently to repeat their results every harvest. This is where monitoring and controlling the cultivation space becomes so important.

Monitoring data outputs throughout the grow space is central to a cultivator’s ability to understand what is happening within their garden. With so many variables contributing to the health of the plants – temperature, relative humidity, vapor pressure deficit (VPD), CO2 concentration, light levels, air movement and soil moisture levels being some of the most commonly monitored – being able to read this data is a vital part of keeping the “recipe” in check.

The Recipe For Success

Of course, this information is next to useless without tracking its changes over time and analyzing that information against the results of the harvest. Data logging is crucial to understanding a facility’s environment. Cultivators can use their data logs to find a baseline and make adjustments until they acquire the exact environment they. Like a recipe, any variation in climate can attribute to a varying product. This is why grow facilities need to monitor their environments to recognize what ingredients they are working with.

Logging data manually can be tedious and time consuming. Most facilities that log data by hand rely on their employees to make several rounds a day to each piece of equipment, thermometer or sensor and record their readings. Not only does this consume precious man hours, but it also leaves enormous room for human error and creates difficulty when analyzing the information against the specific results of the associated harvest.

To avoid this archaic method of gathering data, many cultivators have begun implementing modern technologies that track and log these outputs automatically. This can often go one of three ways; 1) the system is designed to simply monitor data throughout the day and record these trends for further analysis, 2) the data is not only collected and recorded, but the cultivator can use the data to make adjustments to output levels accordingly or 3) the data is collected and through a series of “recipes” input into the system by the cultivator, the controller will automatically make changes to the system as required to stay within the prescribed environmental parameters.

Two and three require the use of a controller. The purpose of a controller is exactly as the name implies. With the proper controls and sensors in place, the cultivator can track changes in their environment and will have the ability to make any necessary adjustments to their equipment from the controller.

Control Your Grow

These goals in mind, Surna has worked tirelessly to bring its cultivators a secure and smart controls Dry Cooling solution. With the introduction of SentryIQ®, growers can depend on their environmental system for reliable controllability while also maintaining consistent desired trend lines.

Why SentryIQ®?

With over a decade of experience in commercial and retail indoor cultivation climate systems, Surna’s engineering team aims to make each of its cultivators’ jobs even easier by offering this new addition to their all-in-one approach to mechanical system design. SentryIQ® can be incorporated in HVAC systems from the beginning or can be introduced in established grow environments to increase productivity and repeatability.

When using SentryIQ®, growers will have much less to worry about. They will be able to control their climates from one single dashboard via web-browser, avoiding spending hours tediously logging data. Surna’s controls include many other benefits for its clients and their grows:

  • Controls sequences developed with predictive algorithms essential to optimum climate control.
  • Security protocols to ensure privacy and protection of important facility data.
  • 24-hour data measurement for a highly accurate reading of temperature, humidity and CO2 within the cultivation spaces.
  • The Surna SentryIQ® Central Plant Controller (and its accompanied four precision digital indoor sensors) controls multiple pieces of industrial heating and cooling equipment, allowing all the equipment to act as one large system.
  • Each room will have its own Surna SentryIQ® Room Controller, ensuring the whole facility remains operational if one room is taken out of service.
  • The Surna SentryIQ® Facility Supervisor is accessible by web-browser (compatible with PC and mobile devices), delivering intelligent management of data with schedules, trends, monitoring and system alarms as well as visual insight to every room within the facility.


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