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“The environment should never be a grower’s limiting factor”

“The environment should never be a grower’s limiting factor”

“When we founded the company, there was no good way for indoor cannabis growers to control humidity when the lights were off. That’s where our first focus was: we’re a dehumidifier first, that also air-conditions,” explains Geoff Brown, VP Technical Applications & Innovation at AGronomic IQ. The Canadian company focuses on purpose build equipment for controlling the CEA space, designed to meet the demands of cannabis growers. “In today’s challenging market, it is more important than ever for growers to increase their yield and efficiency, while reducing their operating costs.”

All-in-one control
Geoff explains that there is always a limiting factor when it comes to plant growth. The goal of AGronomic IQ is therefore that the limiting factor is never the environment. “We listen to the needs of the grower and our systems allow them to drive their production to better yields.” At the start of the company, the biggest thing lacking for growers was proper humidity control during the lights off. “The plants are still transpiring, albeit less, but there is no cooling demand. Therefore, the air conditioning units are not providing the accidental dehumidification they normally do. We went a different route: our system is a dehumidifier first, that also air-conditions. During the daytime, you have the ability to both dehumidify and cool, while you can dehumidify without the cooling at night. Providing that all-in-one control results in a very consistent environment.”

Low ambient cooling
Another HVAC challenge for growers in colder climates is low ambient cooling. Geoff explains that air conditioners are generally not designed to run in low temperatures. “When the refrigerant charge sits outside in -10 degrees, for example, you get very cold liquid refrigerant that comes back when you switch operating modes. As this affects the refrigeration pressures, this can crash your system. Therefore, we use a water and glycol combination as a heat projection fluid. Moreover, our compressor units are entirely isolated from a low ambient condition and can operate down to -40 temperatures without any trouble at all. It also means that we are able to eliminate 85-90% of the refrigerant charge in our equipment compared to other systems.”

20-30% higher efficiency
From day one, AGronomic IQ has had a focus on energy efficiency. “Energy efficiency is controlling your room intelligently as well as the way the equipment is made,” says Geoff. “Our equipment is designed to give its nominal capacity at a 95 degree ambient condition. A lot of manufacturers have the default EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating point as their stated capacity condition. But once you get up to a high ambient, you then end up with a de-rate. As we always rate at that 95 degree condition, growers don’t have to worry about any disappointments in the summer. Also, our equipment naturally has oversized condensers, designed to give full capacity up to that higher point. This drives our efficiency levels 20-30% higher than the legacy products in the market. All of this translates to saved ongoing energy costs for growers.”

Internet monitoring
In order to further support growers with the use of their HVAC, the company also provides the GrowSentry technology. “It is designed for grow room monitoring, to maximize the performance, value, and reliability of the HVAC. The grower generally doesn’t even need to set up anything in their network, all they have to do is connect it to the Internet with a simple Ethernet cable. We store two years of data that the grower has access to. By going back to past logs from their grows, they are able to see the effect of different aspects on yield and energy costs. As a result, they can make informed and data-based decisions. With this data, AGronomic IQ can also help the grower by fine-tuning their equipment or supporting them through any mechanical challenges that might exist,” Geoff explains.

The importance of operating costs
“We’re in a bit of a challenging spot in the market right now with a lot of economic unrest.” According to Geoff, there is a slowdown in new builds and an uptick in acquisitions. “In this market, with bulk prices going down significantly as well, there is going to be more and more of a focus on driving yield and efficiency to reduce the operating costs. That’s where our company can really help, by fine-tuning the systems into optimizing the production and helping the grower be as successful as possible.”

Originally published by MMJDaily, on October 11th, 2022

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