Biosecurity for Missouri Medical Marijuana Growers

Biosecurity in the grow room

By: Cecil King   

Biosecurity for Missouri Medical Marijuana Growers

When legal medical marijuana becomes law in Missouri, newly licensed commercial cannabis growers might be asking themselves a simple, but profound business question. How do I grow the highest quality cannabis crop as fast as possible?

Missouri’s new medical cannabis patients will be waiting. They’ll have probably received their Missouri Medical Marijuana ID cards faster than any cannabis product would be available for them to buy.

What a delightful, but stress inducing dilemma for these new business entities. Lots of demand for their product, but they’ll have nothing to sell, until their first harvest.

That harvest would come in a lot quicker thanks to researchers at Cornell University’s Controlled Environment Agriculture research group.

Controlled Environment Agriculture or CEA is an advanced and intensive form of hydroponically-based agriculture. Plants are grown within a controlled environment optimized for maximum yield and highest consistent quality year after year. Growing indoors defeats seasonal constraints that limit non-CEA outdoor or nursery facility growing times.

The Cornell University CEA research team successfully developed a prototype commercial greenhouse hydroponic production facility in 1999 to grow lettuce. With years of scientific management the methods and technologies they developed in that facility are now used by commercial grow operations across the world. Cannabis growers have adopted and modified CEA techniques for their high value crops.

All agricultural inputs are monitored in a CEA system. Sensors check nutrients, water, heat, lights, air quality and humidity and feed exact, real-time data into computer controlled HVAC systems, lighting, water and nutrient systems. Every stage of a plant’s life is grown in ideal conditions decreasing the time to bring plants to harvest.

One of the leading CEA equipment vendors and a technological innovator in the cannabis space is Surna. Specializing in sealed room cannabis cultivation, Surna has developed a CEA solution that uses a unique liquid-cooled climate controlled system to cut energy costs and limit the spread of bacteria, viruses, mold, fungi and other airborne pathogens.

Traditional air conditioning equipment is an extremely efficient way to spread bacteria and viruses from room to room. Surna’s ductless air handling solution eliminates this possibility ensuring crop health. Surna air chillers work independently from air handlers reducing operating cost while still maintaining proper humidity and temperature.

Surna has recently partnered with AiroClean, a bio-security vendor. Using a photocatalytic oxidation process, technology developed at NASA to keep air in space vehicles pure, AiroClean creates a sanitized growing environment.

AiroClean’s bio-security appliance uses a reactor bed and a series of ultraviolet (UV) lights. The reactor bed has small glass rings coated with Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) which act as the catalyst. As the UV light shines on these glass rings, the TiO2 triggers a reaction turning molecules of pollution and airborne pathogens into less harmful substances, such as water or CO2 without by-products like ozone.

Who knew that future Missouri medical cannabis growers could bring so much technology to bear on growing a plant? But the reasons to do so are clear.

Contamination within a grow is financially devastating, especially if an outbreak of powdery mildew spreads across a grow. That infestation can mean the end of a crop.

No legal Missouri medical cannabis grower would want to trash 2,000 plants worth several million dollars because of an avoidable infestation.