CULTIVATING SCIENCE IN SALIDA: Pure Greens Elevates the Cannabis Standard in Colorado
PURE GREENS IS ADVANCING ADAPTATION
A core part of cannabis cultivation and the culture surrounding it has been the clandestine nature of the society — after all, it’s been highly illegal. As technology and resources have helped enforcement crack-down over the years, it has also helped growers and dealers avoid getting caught, the ironic development of which being the separation between agriculture and cannabis. What used to only be grown outside in fields and ditches has been brought inside into micro-environments, and over time has become completely unrelated to the practices and agricultural lineage from which it comes.
Growers pushed boundaries and the thresholds of the plant itself in many ways. The yields and familiarity of the plant’s life cycle, through primarily anecdotal science, have been well documented, replicated and published thousands of times over. Our biggest drawbacks had gone largely unrecognized by the budding industry until the emergence of a legal, and thus, regulated industry. While large-scale agriculture has had the very necessary environmental regulations, cannabis growers have become accustomed to extreme electric use, unlimited water supplies, no run-off or fertilizer regulation and premixed and bottled nutrients use — not to mention building, fire and business permits. Not surprisingly, most of the legal market developed out of these practices and perpetuated them until they were forced to adapt, and many are still fighting these adaptations.
CHANGING THE FACE OF CANNABIS PRODUCTION
Recognizing a gap in the market that ultimately left the customer without consistent or reliable product, Pure Greens has gone against the standard. Approaching cannabis with the same science and technology available to large-scale and industrial agriculturalists, added with the combined expertise and passion of cannabis growers, Pure Greens hopes to change the face of cannabis production and manufacturing into a more sustainable and ultimately efficient process.
Currently operating with 11,000 ft² indoors, their upcoming approach to greenhouse production has yet to be matched. Expanding to what will be 250,000 ft² of canopy and fully automated, these aren’t your standard hoop house set-ups. Environmental control and fertigation (fertilization and irrigation combined) systems by Argus allow the otherwise outdoor-like setting to be controlled with indoor quality and consistency. If it starts to get too hot, the shade cloth pulls over. Still too hot? The wet wall, desiccant cooling system kicks on and changes the flow of the fans. Similarly, if the sun gets too shaded, a light meter reads the available micromoles and adjusts the supplemental lighting. That’s only the beginning. The fertigation systems have sensors throughout the greenhouses to monitor the moisture level, pH and EC of the soil itself. This information is fed to the computer controller which will then feed, water or adjust the needs of each individual section. It blends your nutrients, maintains your pH, waters your plants, keeps data and controls the environment all in one.
But the advancements don’t stop there. Measuring annual light levels and average micromoles per square foot, the team recognized the regular over lighting that’s erroneously installed in many greenhouses. With the ample sunlight in sunny Colorado, not to mention the intensity they receive at 7,143 ft of elevation, Pure Greens was able to reduce their lighting density by 75 percent and only run the lamps an average of 25 percent of the time. Compared to their indoor operation, this is an increased efficiency of 16x! At the end of the day, you get a more sustainably grown and higher quality product, all for a lower cost.
THE MARRIAGE OF SCIENCE AND CULTURE
Pairing science with culture has already separated and secured Pure Greens’ place in the Colorado cannabis scene. This next step will imbed them in the national marketplace and branch a new model for states coming on board. “Respect for the individual, customer, community and environment” are a mainstay of the cannabis culture, and are literally listed as their company core values. This is how you make a lasting difference.
“Large-scale” and “mass-produced” pot has been touted for years as the fear of the home grower and a downfall of the environment. There’s certainly something to be said about artisanal, hand-crafted products, but there’s a difference between allowing Monsanto in the game and growing cannabis on a large-scale. Utilizing agricultural science has pushed growers towards an otherwise unattainable sustainability. Watering is maximized, nutrients and excess run-off are minimized, and most of all, electricity use is miniscule in comparison. Imagine all the extra time spent with the plants when these things aren’t taking up so much of the growers’ time! It’s time we create a sustainable face to this otherwise green industry.
Originally published at Dope Magazine.