The first evidence of farming culture has been said to have dated back more than 23,000 years ago. The marijuana plant, on the other hand, was originally farmed as a medicinal plant for the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung in 2727 B.C., but was more commonly used by 500 B.C. in Asia.
Marijuana was likely brought to North America by Spaniards in the late 1500s, and early colonies in the United States also grew marijuana and used hemp fibers of the hemp plant to make paper, rope and other products. It has only been since the 1930s when marijuana was made illegal in the U.S. that farming of the plant halted. But, more than 80 years later, we have many states that legalized the cultivation and sale of marijuana for medicinal and recreational usage. But due to the massive increase in population which has limited the available fertile farmland, cannabis cultivators are having to look for innovative solutions for keeping their output high and their energy usage low.
Indoor Cannabis Farming is Taking the Industry by Storm
Did you ever notice that when you see pictures of cannabis farms now, they’re all indoors? Well, that’s because the yields are much more consistent under the controlled environment of an indoor greenhouse than out in the fields. Indoor farming also produces higher yields compared to traditional farming and allows farmers to grow a crop from the seed to its harvesting stages in substantially less time.
It is for these reasons that the indoor farming technology market was valued at $23.75 Billion in 2016 and is projected to reach $40.25 billion by 2022 according to a report by MarketsandMarkets. This massive projected growth is based on the use of vertical farming methodologies that are being championed by much of the cannabis industry. Vertical farming uses a series of vertical racks to optimize space within a carefully controlled environment. This allows more plants to be farmed per square foot and herald the future of cannabis production.
The LED Cannabis Farming Revolution
Between 2010 and 2014 alone, according to data from the Department of Energy, the price of LEDs dropped by a staggering 90%, while their efficiencies and lifespans nearly doubled. Presently, typical LED bulbs have roughly 50,000 hours of usable life in them, which is equivalent to nearly six years of continuous use. This technology is helping to reduce the electric demands of cannabis cultivators and alleviate the strain of absorbent water consumption and the need to use deadly pesticides. Cannabis cultivators love to use LEDs for one big reason: yields! With a quality LED grow light and an average-to-good grow, cultivators can expect yields of anywhere between 0.5 to 1g/watt. To put this in perspective, a 200W LED would yield anywhere between 100-200 grams on average, or 3.5 to 7 ounces.
For more than 30 years HPS grow lights have been the gold standard of cannabis grow lights due to their small sizes and relatively consistent and sustainable yields which are more preferred for smaller growers. But in the end, HPS grow lights are not as scalable or easy to use as LEDs. Most LED lamps also feature heatsinks and small built-in fans to help disperse heat up and away from the lamp, which lets them run cooler. Although LEDs seem to be the innovative future grow light of choice for cannabis farmers, some may not consider it to be the best option available.