Israel is the first country when it comes to cannabis research. Even though the whole academic and scientific work was struggling to better understand the intricacies of this plant because of the illicit status of cannabis, Israel could rely on the most advanced cannabis research lab. But the knowledge in Israel has not been limited to cannabis only, as the country is also one of the most important horticultural places in the world. Indeed, there are many indoor and greenhouse growers there that have an intrinsic advantage compared to their overseas colleagues. “Israel is a small country,” says Ronny Katan with Hamashbir Agriculture. “This is a small area. Yet, there are a lot of different climates: we have the desert in the south, mountains in the north, and high humidity areas near the sea. All these different areas pose different challenges to growers, and therefore also the growing methodology and system need to be adjusted accordingly. Because of these reasons, the knowledge you are gaining is very high.”
Capitalizing on Israel's uniqueness
Ronny indeed further explains that universities across the country have been researching these different climates, and tried to shed light on how to produce the best crop in a given condition. Hamashbir Agriculture has been leveraging this knowledge to build all types of greenhouses. Now, the company has been taking advantage of the country’s cannabis knowledge to build its first cannabis greenhouse. “Growing vegetables in a controlled environment is usually more forgiving than cannabis,” he remarks. “But with cannabis, you need more sophisticated equipment. All of this comes necessarily with a cost, and considering also the high value of the crop, you cannot have any malfunction.”
“You can grow cannabis in many different systems: on the ground and use irrigators, or you can grow it one meter above the ground, and then you’d need tables. When you do it like this, ventilation is much better, and also the type of management is much easier.” Yet, the biggest expense in a cannabis greenhouse is not the structure and the equipment necessary. “Labor represents one of the biggest costs,” Ronny says. “And in Israel, this is even trickier than elsewhere. For instance, growers have to be Israeli because of security reasons. Which means that you cannot have too many people working in there, because if you need a replacement, you need to go through a vast array of hurdles. But if you work with gutters above the ground level, you save labor time, which eventually translates into much easier greenhouse management.”
The advantages of gutter systems
And indeed, the greenhouse that Ronny has set up features gutter systems by Meteor Systems. “Meteor Systems’ gutters have many benefits,” Alex van der Meulen with Meteor Systems says. “Gutters are used for many reasons, like: labour saving, crop uniformity, reducing risk of diseases, drier environment in the greenhouse and better hygiene. One specific big advantage that the gutters give is sustainability. Clean water is becoming a big problem globally, so it’s best practice to use optimal water. The gutter of Meteor Systems will collect all the drain water from the plants. By catching up all the drain water and clean this water in disinfection installations, all the water can be reused.
“That is also the reason why we use drip irrigation so that each pot gets the same amount of water and fertilizers.” Alex continues to explain that drippers all open at the same time when there is enough pressure. When the pressure drops below the openings level, all drippers immediately close at the same time.
Other than allowing for better water management, Meteor Systems’ gutters ensure better airflow. “Because of the sheer fact that plants are not on the ground, there is better ventilation in the greenhouse. On top of that, it facilitates labor. Ultimately, using gutter systems allows for better management of the greenhouse, and makes it easier for growers to achieve the best crop.” Therefore, Ron’s cannabis greenhouse is set up to be among the top-notch controlled environment in Israel, also thanks to Meteor Systems. “We can rely on our own factory, which ensures that every installation is custom-made, and tailored to the grower’s needs.”
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