The Economy of Efficiency
The economy of efficiency. It seems obvious to me now after Scott Zeramby of Mendocino Agriculture mentioned it to me. The easiest way to maximize profits is by lowering overhead. The easiest way to lower overhead is to make your equipment and systems as efficient as possible. Historically, this process has been skipped by many in the industry due to the large profit margins that cannabis used to bring in. Back then, the only real reason for people to become extremely efficient was because they were concerned about their impact on the environment, their surroundings, and their carbon footprint. In today’s market, efficiency is extremely important in determining a company’s bottom line, and in most cases these days can mean the difference between a profit and bankruptcy.
I was prompted to write this after seeing headlines the other day explaining how shops in Washington were facing an excess of inventory and people were dropping their prices to move their products, in turn causing a big scare due to the high costs of production, taxes, and a small profit margin for producers. Regardless of all the variables that go into it, including current regulatory policies, implemented taxes and more, I saw a simple solution: Lower your overhead!
Environmentalists love this idea because it also reduces the carbon footprint and investors like this idea because it means higher profits and the ability to expand. One of the most obvious means to become more efficient in this industry is to grow under the sun. Sun-grown plants are more vigorous than plants grown under lights and they show more resilience to disease. There is no other agricultural business in the world that exists in a fully-indoor grown environment. Now that laws are in place and public sentiment has relaxed there is no reason to hide your plants indoors.
Any farmer with a business plan based solely on an emphasis of indoor growth is coming from an era that did not allow for efficient cultivation (prohibition). Within a greenhouse it is possible to supplement light and heat and grow year-round just like you would inside of a warehouse. There are many styles and brands of lighting these days that focus on efficiency. Though I am not here to suggest which light is the most effective and efficient I can tell you that there are a lot on the market with this concern in mind.
Forever Flowering’s structures come with built-in light meters to turn your lights on and off when natural lighting is not meeting the required light levels. Other systems are available and being developed to take this approach one step further. Built-in light meters on each individual light inside a greenhouse allows a controller unit to adjust light levels to meet lighting requirements. This means that different lights within the greenhouse may be illuminated with different light levels.
Passive cooling and heating system techniques are widespread today and any good consultant can guide you as to how to reduce your inputs. Many companies are sprouting up in this regard, teaching people how to optimize on-site soils, amend their soils, buy in bulk and get away from high cost liquid fertilizers and bagged designer soil blends. The answers are out there and the ones that have been ‘in the trenches’ over the past several decades are now being looked to as the experts in the field.
If you don’t know these methodologies yourself be sure to hire a qualified consultant and/or knowledgeable company in the beginning of designing your project. Money spent in the beginning on this guidance with the proper equipment investments and time spent carefully designing your system will equate to business longevity, profits and the ability to stay ahead of the curve and expand as others in the industry struggle to keep their heads above water.
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About the Author
FFG began as a vision one day on the farm – growing, doing it, coming up with ways to do it better. With a background of two decades in the field came the ideas of how to create products for others to do it as well. Each growing cycle provided a deeper understanding of the plants and their needs. With each season came lessons from our experience on how to create a better growing environment that needed less daily input and reduced the margins of error. We are farmers that came to know and understand our field and create greenhouses to service it.