How to Automate the Grow Room | A Starter Guide - Happy Hydro

In today's hemp-obsessed world, all your favorite commercial brands all rely, at least in some part, on technology to control the grow room.  

Transforming your grow room from a manual operation to a completely automated one brings your harvest into the 21st century. From automated hemp cultivation methods to automated hemp curing, how can you incorporate technology into your grow room?

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3 Reasons to Automate

Need convincing about the benefits of how technology can improve your harvests? Growing a great product requires three essential items to guarantee success — and no, it's not water, nutrients, and light. 

You need an in-depth knowledge about the plant, consistent routines day-in and day-out, and enough time (every day) to manage the growing environment. Not everyone has the knowledge, patience, and time required to constantly pump our quality buds. It's why automation and new-technologies come in handy.

1. Built-in Experience

New to growing hemp indoors? There are a lot of moving parts and environmental conditions where experience can make or break the final product. Why not rely on the knowledge of those that have come before you?

Many hemp-specific products these days have experience built right into the design. From totally automated grow-boxes to a total environmental monitor like the cloud-based Pulse system, these technologies were developed by people with hemp-growing experience.

2. Set it and Forget It

Unless you've built your life around the hemp growth cycle, it is impossible to get the lighting and watering schedules down, every single day. 

But, plants thrive with consistent schedules, which mirror ideal growing conditions outside. The solution? Add timers to every single system, meaning lights, water, and CO2. 

Improve basic timers through environmental monitoring for humidity and temperature. Should the condition fluctuate above or below pre-set parameters, your automated system kicks into action - all without you standing by to flip the switch.

3. Bigger, Better and Predictable Harvests

There is no better way to develop bigger buds with a juicier cannabinoid profile than with automated consistency. Although you remain in the driver's seat, you've set the grow room on autopilot. It will continue to flourish even if your attention drifts elsewhere. Remember, plants love consistency and consistency increases the harvest potential.

A Basic Guide to DIY Grow Room Automation

Depending on preference and budget, you can add as much or as little automation as desired. On one end of the spectrum are commercial spaces with high-tech, space-age growing controlled by AI and monitored via cloud-based platforms. On the other end are small-scale growers adding a timer and a thermostat. The beauty of growing hemp is the ability to personalize the process.

The easiest way to begin the automation process is to add in a series of individual timers to the watering system, grow lights, CO2, and air circulation. Again, as you'll see throughout this guide on grow room automation, there are high-tech and low tech options.

Throw in a few environmental monitors to regulate the humidity, fans, CO2 release, and more, and you'll see improved results. Environmental monitors are often now wifi-linked and cloud-based as well, which means, they notify you should any environmental controls fail.

Can you automate post-harvest processes? Of course you can! While you can dry, cure, and trim your harvest manually, today, there is a device, app, or digital monitor for that. These days, automation is helping out along every step of the process. 

Automated Hemp Irrigation and Hydroponics

One of the most common methods of automating the grow room is to implement an automated watering system. If you are working with a hydroponics system, you are likely already using a timer system to schedule set watering times, as you may need in an ebb and flow system or the nutrient film technique. 

Most of the standard hydroponics systems automate watering and feeding schedules. But what are the options open to the soil-based farmer?

The Tropf Blumat self-watering system functions automatically, using a series of ceramic "carrots" networked with hoses and watering each pot. The carrots automatically sense the level of moisture content within the soil, and water as needed. Importantly, it's an automated watering system with overly complicated controls, or high-tech parts prone to failure. It's a low-tech solution to reduce the burden of daily watering in the grow room.

With that installed, try pairing the Blumat watering system with the Blumat Digital Moisture Meter. With the same ceramic carrot technology, the meter helps give accurate moisture readings from deep within the plant's roots system. It's a simple way to control the level of moisture in the environment and removes the risk of mistakes.

Automated Environmental Controls

Stepping the automation up a notch, why not select a few additional environmental controls, beyond the Blumat Digital Moisture Meter? Hemp, in particular, requires careful regulation of the indoor environment to produce the big, beautiful buds you are looking for. Automation creates a consistent environment and one which allows for precision experimentation.

The Pulse ONE Environmental Monitor is the one-stop-shop, measuring light, temperature, humidity, and VPD from a single device. Furthermore, it collects the data for easy historical reflection. 

From a mobile platform, the Pulse ONE gives you a 24/7 look at the conditions within your grow room. Plus, if systems fail, get instant notifications. Want to improve the total grams per plant? Review historical grow data to reassess the conditions.

A fully automated Hemp grow room will incorporate other technologies as well. A helpful improvement to your ventilation and HVAC system is the addition of a Cloudline Inline Duct System with Temperature and Humidity Control. A quiet workhorse which ventilates grow, heat-transfers, and more. It has an intelligent control system built into the device, which allows you the ability to program temperature, humidity, fan speed, and set a timer. 

Lighting is the final key to automated hemp cultivation. The best way to deliver a strict lighting schedule is with Grower's Choice ROI-E680 grow light and the associated Grower's Choice Controller. Easily mimic sunrise and sunset, while following either vegetative or bloom scheduling to improve the natural experience of your plants — no more finicky timers connected to extension cords. Grower's Choice makes lighting efficient and effective.

Automatic Hemp Trimmers

Even if nothing can truly replace the style and finesse of a carefully hand-trimmed bud, machine hemp trimmers have come a long way in the last few years. Instead of churning out mashed up a low-quality flower, certain brands are delivering a pretty impressive final product. 

If hand trimming has become too costly, tedious, or even painful, you can now switch to automated trimming machines that will trim pounds quickly. There are dozens of brands to choose from depending on the size of your harvest, and the depth of your pockets. 

Start with a Speedee Trim Electric Trimmer to get the manicured handcrafted results you're familiar with, but in a fraction of the time. Or, try one of the many salad-spinner style trimmers like the Melon Farm Bud Bowl Trimmer. If these aren't large enough to cope with the pounds of flower you are producing, upsize to the commercial-grade automated trimmers, like the Centurion Pro.

Automated Hemp Curing

Industrial-scale growers have long moved away from burping jars to high-tech curing boxes, which completely automate curing. These machines, with price tags in the tens of thousands of dollars, are still out of the budgets for most at home or small-scale operations. 

So, what's the budget-friendly alternative to automated curing?

Boveda Humidity Packs are a low-tech solution but still delivering highly impressive results. Working with leading horticulture experiences, the company also created specialized CVault Curing Containers. These metal tins, with interlocking lid, have 2-way humidity control. It cures hemp perfectly to capture the full-spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes. 

A Fully Automated Hemp Grow | The Grow Box

Of course, for the at-home or small scale grower, the easiest way to completely automate the grow room is to invest in a grow tent or grow box. These mini-greenhouses, designed by experienced growers, create the ideal environment for growing cannabis indoors. With little room for user-error, they facilitate the growing process from start to finish.

Grow tents and boxes are more of an investment piece but tend to improve the harvest. Typically they come with a host of essentials, including suitable grow lights, ventilation, CO2, and possibly even hydroponics set up. Again, there is an impressive selection of options in whatever combination you are looking for.

To get started, check out the space-age technology behind the Grobo Grow Boxes or the tried and true solutions from Gorilla Grow Tents. 

DIY Grow Room | Automation is Your Friend

Whether you settled on modernizing your DIY grow room with a touch of automation or are going all-in with a Grobo Grow Box, you'll quickly see improvements. You'll have more time on your hands, more consistency and control, and at the end, a better bud. 

A few timers and a selection of environmental controls are really all you need to save time and energy, while at the same time improving the crop. 

Author | Chris McDonald

With two decades of expertise, Chris leads Happy Hydro in redefining sustainable gardening and delights in backpacking adventures, mind-expanding journeys, and creating memories with his loved ones.

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