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Mike Vallafskey, Agrinomix

“The key question is always: how do I grow at scale, economically?”

There are some challenges of large-scale cannabis growing that are similar to the ones that ‘traditional’ horticulture growers face. Yet, because of the infant stage the cannabis industry still is in, these challenges are trickier to overcome. “I would say that one of the biggest challenges for cannabis operation is labor,” says Mike Vallafskey with Agrinomix. “First, you need to consider how you attract labor, and then how you grow it and develop, but also how to retain it. It can be very costly to businesses to train your employees. This is why it is critical to rely on smooth processes and automation for your cannabis cultivation.”

Optimizing a cannabis operation
The benefits of technology and automation have been long known by the more ‘traditional’ horticulture industry, but for cannabis cultivation this is something rather new. “Our job is exactly to make cannabis operations more economical through optimization,” Mike points out. “The thing is, the cannabis industry is very competitive. Now that it has become mainstream, more people are attracted to work in this sector. But you are still competing against different industry segments; so, question is: how do we present cannabis cultivation as ‘more sexy’? How do we get these employees to work here rather than somewhere else.”

Mike Vallafskey, Agrinomix

The answer to such a question has been provided by ‘traditional’ horticulture: automation. “Agrinomix is an automation solution integrator,” Mike explains. “Our business is built over years of serving horticulture. We do provide horticulture growers with automated systems, but we also utilize the strength of our brands to bring a total, integrated solution to large projects.” And Mike indeed points out that most of the solutions they provide are for labor concerns growers have. “Automation is not about replacing labor, but supplement existing labor and reallocating it to other parts of the business. If you make the job easier through the total solutions we provide, you make your operation more attractive and the job more fulfilling, thus making employees want to stick around.”

A problem of scale? 
The main issue with the labor concern stems from the sheer scale of these cannabis operations which is definitely unprecedented. “The key question is always: how do I grow at scale, economically?” Mike says. “You usually start small and then you get bigger. But if you keep doing the same things manually, then your cost increases. That’s why it is essential to invest capital in structure, infrastructure, and automation. But mostly, you need to build the scalability into the operation: it’s hard to attract labor if it’s all manual.”

Indeed, the hard takeaway from this is to invest now for the future, as it will prove to be less costly. “An important part of our job is to sit down with growers and help them to make an informed decision as to why our total-solution systems increase the ability to produce economically, while ensuring quality plants are grown,” Mike says. “Commitment to growing quality cannabis is quite a responsibility, and we are fully aware of that: cannabis is not a fad, is not a trend, it’s here to stay. And the best way to achieve quality is to grow responsibly, keeping in mind that ensuring high quality and consistency is what really matters to medical cannabis patients.”

Agrinomix is well poised to support growers in taking up such responsibility and to ensure that they are built for long-term profitability. “It is important for growers to ask themselves: how do we sustain this business over the years?” Mike points out. “In order to do this, the question of diversifying the business should be asked, which brings into the conversation the willingness to change direction and adapt operations as necessary. We are fully committed to serve the cannabis industry in North America, and with our European partners, bring the best resources for growers to build scalable and sustainable operations, both from a financial and environmental standpoint.”

For more information:
AgriNomix, LLC
300 Creekside Drive
Oberlin, Ohio 44074 - USA  

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