Nestled between majestic Redwoods and flanked by epic views, a dream has manifested and acts a beacon for the future of cannabis cultivation in California. Integrating leading technology with old school farming knowhow, Humboldt Integrated Cannabis has completed its first project. The fruition of a dream, the facility is the cutting edge of Humboldt’s nascent industry.
It’s truly a revolutionary facility. If you’re lucky enough to visit, you might not notice the hidden complexities. Upon first look, Humboldt Integrated Cannabis looks like most Humboldt County cannabis farms. A large crescent shaped greenhouse perched on a south-facing slope with dark green cannabis barely visible through opaque greenhouse material. Inside, raised beds of vibrant plants with strong stalks jetting out from shadowy Royal Gold soil. Up above, the canopy reaches to the sky aided by multiple trestles.
It’s the same old-school technique that emerald cannabis farmers have been using for decades – and that’s kind of the point. Integrating tried-and-true cannabis techniques with modern technology is what makes this facility remarkable.
Dan, the president of Humboldt Integrated Cannabis, explained how this facility became reality. A year ago, Dan got together with Steve Gieder of Humboldt Green and Ari Seamans of iGrow with the idea of bringing cannabis cultivation to the next level. After a series of meetings the group decided to collaborate on a “showroom” in order to exhibit an improved way to cultivate medicinal cannabis. Less a showroom and more a technologically advanced agriculture facility, the idea was to use Dan’s cannabis knowhow and couple it with Steve and Ari’s technical expertise.
The facility would bring together the latest in horticulture technology and incorporate it into the tried-and-true cannabis expertise and climate of Northern California. Dan explained that they “wanted to get away from the [agricultural] habits that have given growers [in the region] a bad name.” This meant the group wanted to use sustainable, energy efficient technologies that minimize harm to the environment. They struck out to become “beyond compliant” as Steve proclaimed, referring to recently passed local and state regulation. And, they wanted to do this while providing top shelf medicine to patients.
They also had a desire to show the cannabis industry what the future could look like.
With this in mind, the group laid the blue prints for the first-of-its-kind facility. Fully automated, technologically advanced, energy efficient, and beyond compliant. They broke ground in July of 2015 and finished construction in early 2016. They started their pilot run in March and recently harvested as of the time I sat down with them.
And the results are impressive. They “had some kinks to work out but it went pretty smooth,” as Dan confessed. They are working to refine the process and are excited about compiling real-world numbers that will help farmers using the system in the future.
One must look a little closer to see the cutting edge technology.
This is not your typical greenhouse; the facility has been constructed to grow cannabis 365 days a year. It utilizes light deprivation and supplemental lighting. This means that the greenhouse can create the light cycle needed during vegetation periods (18 hrs light – 6 hrs dark) and during flowering (12 light – 12 dark). The facility can also assure plants receive sufficient luminescence by aiding natural sunlight on cloudy days via the light array. It’s temperature and humidity controlled and maintains optimum ventilation and airflow.
The whole facility is automated via an iGrow365 control system. HortimaX software brings all the functions of the facility onto a single display and allows its operators to turn lights on and off, raise and lower the light system, open and close the shade cloth, raise and lower the retracting walls, and increase or decrease humidity and temperature. Steve explained, “that the iGrow365 control [system] allows for complete light deprivation [and supplemental lighting] and can be programmed to completely disallow any light pollution during sensitive dark hours when environmental constraints are needed.” Additionally, a series of sensors gives operators a live feed of information so adjustments can be made. The system can be programmed and/or monitored by HortimaX techs via the Internet. The program also stores data so farmers can track trends in order to create an optimal environment for plants.
Northcoast Horticulture Supply provided the Rough Brother International greenhouse. Now manufacturing cannabis specific greenhouses, the RBI greenhouse is equipped with fully automated light dep shade cloth and side panels that open and retract when necessary. Fans and ventilation are built in and the floor is temperature controlled by a circulating water system.
The lighting arrangement, provided by iGrow, is as impressive as the facility itself. Utilizing induction light technology invented by Nikola Tesla, iGrow has created an energy efficient full spectrum grow lamp. Ari worked to create the blend of phos-fluorescence that coats the inside of the bulb. It’s this blend that allows the iGrow lights to illuminate plants with all seven colors of light, including ultraviolet, a full spectrum most resembling the sun. These lights are designed to help lower energy costs and radiate little heat. This means that the lamps can be moved especially close to plants which is why the whole lighting array is mounted on a movable racking system.
Dan, Steve, and Ari have put together quite a facility. Their operation is truly impressive and, as the curtain of prohibition slowly rises, groups like this are increasingly coming into the light. Dan is the first cannabis farmer to test this system and he feels “it’s the way of the future.”
“It’s efficient, environmentally friendly; it follows commercial ag and it’s what [regulators] want to see,” he said.
Steve feels the same adding, “when you fully automate things, its not just to grow the best plants, its to address all the necessary components that behold the future of the industry.”
Dan, Steve, and Ari seek to provide high quality, safe, clean medicine to patients while mitigating harm to environment and community. The group feels that their facility is a tool to this end – as Steve said, “it’s a way to put the ideals that Humboldt County lives by, into the forefront.”