Get ready for an insider’s look into a Washington State grow operation packed with industrial automation borrowed from the tulip industry. With legal gardens being constructed to fit more plants than people in a Tokyo subway, it’s no wonder that this next facility chose a system that reduces the day-to-day tedious tasks of tending to large numbers of cannabis plants. On Episode 9 of Growing Exposed, we take you to Rochester Farms.
Inside Rochester Farms
Rochester Farms, a facility located south of Seattle, grows using technology that can feed thousands of plants under 700 lights with the push of a button. It does this using a dosing system connected to a computer that can be accessed online from a smartphone.
Now that’s convenient.
Marshall, who started and constructed this facility, explains how he did his homework, attending a lot of tradeshows looking for the latest and greatest before choosing this labor-saving system.
“There is more to it than saving money on labor,” Marshall explained. “Since fertigation is done through a dosing machine, each zone can be tailored to standardize the crop, and everything is recorded.”
Expert of the hydroponics world Justin Cooper, who was on the guided tour with Marshall, commented on the growing methods while in the mother room.
“The sea of green is great for commercial cultivation,” Justin said.
This is a technique that allows you to maximize your space without sacrificing yield.
He also went on to explain the benefits of an ebb and flow system: “It’s a very effective way to feed plants without having a tangled mess of spaghetti lines all over the place.”
Rochester Farms proves they know a thing or two about keeping things tidy. The facility was immaculate.
The tour led us to a well-thought-out table cleaning station, which Justin took for a test ride. With one step, he pressed a foot pedal that flips one of the large grow tables 90 degrees in seconds as he began to power wash it. It was such a simple, intelligent design that just made sense.
Automation Meets Human Quality Control
Of course, automation has some big upfront costs, but this is one thing I saw that I am sure has paid for itself over and over again. A clean grow that remains free of pests, molds and powdery mildew is priceless.
If you are a bit of a purist, don’t worry, you’ll be happy to know all forms of automation were absent during harvest. There are still tasks that humans are better at… and quality control is one.
I witnessed the small crew at Rochester Farms busy hanging a unique strain of cannabis called Alien Grenade by hand—curing and trimming using scissors with the utmost care before it gets packaged and sent out to be enjoyed by a lucky customer.