Cannabis irrigation is an extremely delicate process, as there are many elements to take into consideration that will dictate if an operation is going to be successful or not. Irrigation water treatment is a critical part of this delicate process – to ensure that all plants obtain their proper share of water and nutrients, and to protect the plants against water-borne pathogens. “Traditional irrigation water treatment involved chemicals such as chlorine,” says Ziv Gottesfeld, co-founder and CEO of HPNow, a company specialized in automated and sustainable irrigation water treatment. “But when it comes to high-value crops, and even more so cannabis, the use of chemicals is increasingly frowned upon, if not outright forbidden.”

Ziv Gottesfeld, co-founder and CEO of HPNow 

Water treatment for cannabis
There are indeed a few aspects of traditional irrigation water treatment that can hardly be applied to cannabis cultivation. “When dealing with chlorine-based treatment, and even bulk peroxide-based products, growers would always find unwanted residues, which will accumulate in the irrigation system, and find their way into the soil and the leaves of the plant. Especially in cannabis, this can be extremely problematic – not to mention the hazards of handling such chemicals.”

Treating irrigation water is critical for a number of reasons. “If the water is left untreated, then it will accumulate biofouls, which build up biofilms, clogging the delicate irrigation emitters, and leading to inconsistencies in water and nutrient inputs,” Ziv explains. “These biofilms are also an excellent breeding ground for water-borne plant pathogens. On top of that, untreated irrigation water means higher maintenance costs, both in terms of higher irrigation system churn and labor. These are the reasons why it is critical to treat irrigation water, as this has a direct correlation to the cost of the operation as a whole, but also and especially to the crop yield.”

Thus, growers need to pay the utmost attention to taking care of the irrigation water, and especially with regards to mitigating water-borne pathogen pressure. “Yet, the real question is: how do you do it safely, sustainably, and autonomously?” Ziv says. “Cannabis growers don’t want to handle these hazardous materials, both in terms of dealing with the associated supply chain, as well as handling and storing them on site. What’s more, an error in manual dilution and dosing can lead to substantial crop damage. That’s where HPNow comes in.”

Doing it properly 
The company has developed a fully autonomous system that generates ultra-pure hydrogen peroxide directly on-site so that growers don’t have to source than themselves. “Our on-site ultra-pure peroxide generator is completely automated, so growers don’t have to deal with any hazardous chemical inputs,” Ziv points out. “Growers would directly generate a very high-purity water treatment agent, which provides them with huge peace of mind as they are worry-free with regards to the accumulation of unwanted residuals. Further, the ultra-high purity peroxide generated by our HPGen system breaks down to pure water and oxygen, enriching dissolved oxygen levels and increasing oxygen availability to the root zone.”

Every grower knows that preventative measures for pathogen and pest outbreaks work better than a reactive approach. Accordingly, HPNow’s system is designed to play a key role in the grower’s Integrate Pest Management (IPM) strategy. As such, it is designed to smoothly integrate with a wide variety of irrigation systems and methods. “Integrating our technology is as simple as adding another input channel into the fertigation system,” Ziv continues. “We can essentially integrate it with any irrigation system, be it drip, hydroponics, or aeroponics based.”

Ziv and HPNow are very much aware of how highly valued the cannabis crop is – especially considering their focus on providing plants with the best water possible. “Our systems worldwide are IoT connected to our servers, and those are constantly monitored,” Ziv says. “It is of the utmost importance to know in advance if something related to the irrigation is going to malfunction. That’s why we carry out preventative maintenance, and typically we know about an issue with the system before the growers. Most of the time, we can solve problems remotely.”

Ziv is not surprised that cannabis growers demand such highly technological systems to grow their crops at their best. “Cannabis is one of the most highly valuable crops,” he restates. “And exactly because of that, I see cannabis growers setting the standard of what high-end agriculture looks like for the rest of the industry. This is particularly beneficial for indoor horticulture. Exactly like cannabis growers, our focus is on consistent production based on sustainability and automation.”

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