Automated cannabis growing facility to save water, energy and labour

State-of-the-art facility and automated growing system to produce safer, higher quality, environmentally friendly product.
September 23, 2019
Written by Canivate Growing Systems (edited)
A Vancouver-based start-up has developed a new and proprietary way to grow hemp and cannabis.

Launched earlier this month, the technologically advanced facility design and automated growing system is known as The Canivate Way. Developed by intellectual property/technology company Canivate Growing Systems Ltd., the system is designed to dramatically reduce the energy and water requirements of traditional cultivation methods and eliminate the need for harmful agricultural toxins, while increasing crop yields and quality.
The patent-pending system creates the perfect ecosystem and microclimate for USDA organic-equivalent, naturally cultivated cannabis and hemp, says the company.

A new type of growing environment
Cannabis and hemp are traditionally cultivated outdoors, in greenhouses or in indoor facilities, all of which can carry significant environmental management, contamination and pest risks, says the company. The Canivate Way creates a new type of growing environment through systems and procedures that deploy a combination of innovations in cannabis cultivation, optimizing results through automation and robotics, micro-environments, nanotechnologies and controls – all managed through the Internet of Things (IoT).

As a result, Canivate facilities use up to 90 per cent less energy, 90 per cent less water collection, 40 per cent less fertilizer, and 50 per cent less labour costs compared to traditional indoor grow operations. They also utilize uniquely formulated nutrients and minerals to create a fertigation system that optimizes growth and produces USDA-equivalent organic plants.

A key element of the company's proprietary elements is the building envelope. The first facility in Southern California is expected to be the cannabis industry's first fully sealed growing environment, developed to prevent the infiltration of pathogens, pests and other contaminants, while providing extreme odour control – along with the building's energy efficiency gains.

The Canivate facility is also designed to improve and optimize the ideal cannabis grow light spectrum by providing natural sunlight complemented by supplemental lighting. The cultivation room walls and ceiling are made of a proprietary light-transmitting membrane, admitting the highest levels of beneficial full spectrum light, approximately 95%+ (between 500-1800 nanometers) – significantly greater than any other material, including clear glass. This membrane has very high tensile strength, is resistant to dirt and other elements, and is just one per cent of the weight of glass. When supplemental light is needed to achieve optimal lighting conditions, proprietary advanced LED lighting – specially designed for Canivate by a team that includes former NASA scientists responsible for growing plants on the International Space Station – delivers an optimal light spectrum and intensity for amplified growth to complement the sun's spectrum. This provides a complementary light spectrum far exceeding any agricultural lighting fixture currently available in the market, says the company.

Temperature, humidity, air velocity and other environmental factors are managed using IoT sensors and control systems. Micropropagation of plants using cell cultures eliminates pathogens and produces more hearty plants than those that come from clones. Virtually all steps in the production cycle – from vegetative to harvest to composting – are automated for efficiency, cleanliness and reduced human intervention. These innovations minimize crop loss, reduce operating expenses, and enable increased crop yields of consistently high quality, which results in a substantially lower price per gram.

"Canivate's proprietary facility design, automated growing system, combined with our decreased carbon footprint, is a disruptive innovation in the sector," said Ingo Mueller, Canivate's CEO. "Our focus is to deliver world-class facilities built by a world-leading design/engineering firm to some of the best brands in the business – starting in the U.S., then in Canada and, ultimately, globally. Retailers will finally have reliable access to consistently high-quality products that establish a new standard for clean, green and pure products."

While Canivate does not cultivate the cannabis themselves, it identifies customers before locating and building a facility, and then leases the facility and growing system to an exclusive independent operator (EIO) for each state. The EIO will be licensed in its local jurisdiction to engage in cultivation activities and will manage the facility and growing system using the Canivate IP. The EIO will work with commercial cultivators, while retaining control and management of the growing system process; allowing them to optimize yields and provide retailers with consistent, high-quality and environmentally friendly products. In addition, an offtake contract for each facility is put in place before it is built. This is done to provide high-profile brands – that have established distribution channels and retail outlets – with a consistent quantity and quality of product, which secures profitability for both the EIO and Canivate.

There are currently signed offtake agreements in place with known cannabis companies such as EarthShaker, a cultivator for popular luxury brands like Beboe; and Commercial Grow Supply, the grower for popular brands including Big Mike and Cookies.

"I have seen the future of cannabis cultivation and it is Canivate," said Sevan Derohanian, CEO of Commercial Grow Supply. "Retailers desperately lack access to consistently high quality and ecofriendly product from their suppliers. Canivate has reimagined how growing systems should work, creating an optimal environment for amplified plant growth, higher crop yields, cultivated in a sustainable way."

Set for completion in late fall 2020, the complex tensile membrane component of their first structure in Southern California will be built by PFEIFER FabriTec, an award-winning firm specializing in this type of construction. The company has built some of the most iconic structures around the world, including the "Bird's Nest" National Stadium in Beijing, the Olympic Stadium in London, and the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Plans for the Southern California Campus are for multiple facilities, an R&D building, and a retail dispensary. Additional facilities are being planned for throughout the U.S. and Canada, with a more global strategy to follow.

Questions or comments? Email greenhouse@annexweb.com

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