Introduction

Indoor cultivation facilities are a complex system of interacting physical (temperature, humidity, CO2) and biological (plants, soil, and microorganisms) systems. There will always be some unpredictability in these systems and our goal as growers is to anticipate and prevent potential problems before they escalate. One way to mitigate inconsistent climate patterns in your grow room is to use real-time monitoring of growing conditions for early detection of possible production deficits. Braingrid provides a versatile sensor platform for cannabis growers that does exactly this. Braingrid Sentrollers provide real-time data to help growers connect to their plants, increase revenues, and reduce costs and risks.

One feature of indoor cannabis cultivation facilities that is of interest to growers is climate anomalies. Climate anomalies are any deviation from the common trend. They include extreme conditions (for example, especially hot or cold temperatures in the grow room) or unusual conditions (for example, an entire day in the grow room that is 0.5 °C warmer than the day before). Anomalies are of interest to growers because they correlate with yield anomalies. In other words, if the environmental conditions are inconsistent, then your yields are likely to be inconsistent too! Climate anomalies can be detected by all of Braingrid’s Sentrollers. In our last post, we discussed the possible causes of climate anomalies. This post focuses on strategies that can be implemented in your facility today to mitigate climate anomalies (and ultimately save time and money).

The 3 Key Steps

There are three steps to using Braingrid’s Sentrollers effectively for anomaly detection. We’ll go into them in more detail, but here’s the overview:

1. Strategic placement of Sentrollers (sensors)
2. Note patterns in anomaly data
3. Take action to reduce anomalies

Step 1: Strategic Placement of Braingrid’s Sentrollers

In order to mitigate anomalies, we need to first ensure that Sentrollers have been placed in strategic areas of the facility. This will facilitate the collection of high precision readings and anomaly detection. Ideally, Sentrollers should be placed as close to the plants as possible and away from high-traffic areas such as doors and walkways (Figure 1). Ideally, Sentrollers should not be placed too closely to equipment like HVAC intake or exhaust points, CO2 injection points, and irrigation systems. These locations are subject to strong climate changes that aren’t representative of the entire grow room. Ideally, Sentrollers should be placed in similar locations throughout the facility and evenly spaced throughout the grow area. This includes placing them at similar heights so that they fall within similar temperature zones of one another (Figure 2). Once a Sentroller is installed, it’s best to leave it in the same place to ensure consistent data collection. Employing these tips will give growers consistent, quality data.

Figure 1: The position of a Sentroller within the grow room can impact the number of anomalies detected. A Sentroller located close to the plants (left) can be more likely to register an anomaly than one that is mounted on the wall of the grow room (right).

Step Two: Note Patterns in Anomalies
Once your sensors have been in place for a time, start noting instances of anomalies and alarms. Braingrid’s Sentrollers can be set to automatically notify the grower with alerts and alarms when the facility experiences sub-optimal conditions. Which Sentrollers are detecting the most anomalies and alarms? Temperature data? Humidity data? When and where are the anomalies and alarms happening?

The goal of anomaly detection is to find locations in the grow facility with unusual environmental dynamics. We want to correlate anomaly events with places, things, and actions happening in the facility. We can then use this information to understand inefficiencies, and other challenges. For example, at many facilities, temperature anomalies correlate with the timing of grow lights turning on. This could indicate that the grow lights are generating too much heat, which could negatively affect yields (especially if it’s happening every day!) At another facility, the grower noted that a particular area of the room generated many anomalies. This area was located in an area with a cross-breeze generated by having two doors on opposite sides of the grow room. The grower also recalled that several batches of plants had reduced survival rate in this are compared to other spots in the room. Examine your own data and see if you can find any patterns between anomaly events and activities or locations in the facility.

Figure 2: A grow room can have zones with similar climatic conditions. For example, four thermal zones exist in this room. Zones 1 and 2 are warmer thermal zones while zones 3 and 4 are on the cooler side. Place Sentrollers in similar thermal zones.

Step Three: Take Action to Reduce Anomalies and Improve Facility Function

Lastly, use the insights gained through Step 2 to take action to improve your facility. Using anomaly data from Sentrollers, the grower can then make informed decisions that improve plant health and yields. Take action to improve the functioning of the facility and behaviour of staff. For example, if a particular location in the grow room is prone to anomalies, the master grower may change the position of fans such that they circulate the heat more evenly. If anomalies in humidity readings are detected, it may be time to take a look at the irrigation and HVAC systems. Are plant pots irrigated evenly? Are they irrigated at consistent times throughout the week? Is the HVAC system more effective in some areas of the room than others due to the location of air intakes? Should you as the master grower, consider equipment maintenance or upgrades? In some cases, the grower may decide to return to Step 1 to make changes to the to the Sentroller location.

Growers can use anomaly data to their advantage to dial-in on the optimal conditions for their facility and mitigate risks. Braingrid Sentrollers offer real-time monitoring to help growers understand climate patterns in their grow room and the interactions with biological plant systems. All of Braingid’s Sentroller’s can detect anomalies improve yields and yield consistency. In this report, we gave actionable strategies for using anomaly data in your facility today. You can also read about the common times, locations, and causes of climate anomalies in a cannabis facility. You can also download the full white paper here