MJBizMag March 2021 - 48

From the Roots Up
" This process used to take us three
days. Now we are at an average of 10
hours, " Ghods said. " Labor definitely is
the No. 1 cost for us. "
As far as overall management of the
process, Douglas recommends correctly
staffing the cultivation team by hiring
an experienced head grower from
traditional horticulture or mainstream
agriculture.
" It's important to start early in the
hiring and structuring of the cultivation
team, " he said. " It's much easier to teach
an excellent commercial grower the
specifics about cannabis rather than
teaching a home grower how to manage
a commercial facility. "
As a rule of thumb for staffing an
indoor or greenhouse facility, cultivation
businesses should employ 25 workers or
fewer for every 100,000 feet of cannabis
canopy space, Douglas said. " If you're
above that in an established business,
that should be a red flag you're not working
as efficiently as possible. "
Kim Cisneros, director of production
at Bay Area, California-based Harborside
Farms, the cultivation arm of the medical
marijuana company founded by Andrew
and Steve DeAngelo, said cultivation is a
common area for staffing bloat, especially
when the company is trying to hit
production goals.
" If we are ever behind, we hire temps,
which is another cost, " she added.
The company also tries to cross-train
employees so they can pivot to other
departments as needed. " As a team, we
have also helped each other find efficient
processes to keep labor costs down. It's a
constantly evolving process. "
An in-house purchasing coordinator
manages Harborside's spending by
department. He tracks each department's
needs to keep production on track and in
line with quarterly budgets. Needs vary
by department and consist of things such
as soil, pots, fertilizer, nutrients, tools,
bags, pre-roll tubes, personal protective
equipment and more.
" As for spending on labor, all overtime
and additional temporary labor must be
48 Marijuana Business Magazine | March 2021
Denver-based Lightshade reduces transplant
labor by placing 1-gallon compressed containers
directly on 3-gallon final containers. Courtesy Photo
approved at the time of request, ensuring
that we're tracking spending in real time
and aren't surprised with one large sum
cost at once for materials and labor, "
Cisneros said.
AUTOMATION
AND SOFTWARE
Harborside uses automation to increase
efficiency in certain areas, such as
transplanting clones into 1-gallon pots
and moving plants into flowering houses.
" So far, automating these processes
has helped eliminate labor costs by
80% or more, " Cisneros said. " We are
consistently looking for new ways to
improve and simplify efficiency. "
At Connected Cannabis, Ghods said
the company uses enterprise-resourceplanning
software Acumatica in
conjunction with Quantum Leaf Solutions
to integrate its cultivation system with
Metrc seed-to-sale software. California
mandates that cultivators track every
gram of product grown and sold through
Metrc. Acumatica and Quantum Leaf are
two of the software packages that help
Connected Cannabis do that.
Before this solution, Ghods said, one
worker was inputting data manually with
QuickBooks. The integrated software
creates efficiencies throughout the supply
chain and helps with recordkeeping
during the planting stage.
" These are indispensable tools, "
Ghods added.
Bart Schaneman covers
cultivation and extraction for
Marijuana Business Magazine
and Marijuana Business Daily.
You can reach him at bart.
schaneman@mjbizdaily.com.
Getting the Right
Tool for the Job
Cannabis cultivation consultant
Ryan Douglas in Vero Beach,
Florida, advocates incorporating
mainstream farming technology
into the cannabis cultivation
process. For example:
Pot-filling machines: Commercial
operators use pot-filling machines
that break up large, compressed
bales of soil and then automatically
fill pots using conveyor belts.
This method allows operators to
fill thousands of pots in a fraction
of the time it would take manual
laborers to do the same task.
Transplanting machines: The
conveyor belt continues through
an irrigation station and then
onto a transplanting machine that
precisely and rapidly places rooted
cuttings into each pot.
" The equipment is incredibly
precise, saves on labor and is
capable of transplanting tens of
thousands of seedlings in a single
day, " Douglas said.
Fertigation systems: Accurate
mixing and delivery of fertilizer
and water to crops can be
achieved through fertigation
systems.
Many hydroponic vegetable
growers use closed-loop
fertigation systems that are
appropriate for cannabis
cultivation. After each irrigation,
the leachate that pours through
the bottom of the pot is captured,
filtered and then mixed with fresh
water and fertilizer and sent back
out to the crop.
Cannabis growers can use this
technology to guarantee that
no fertilizer runoff enters the
environment or the municipal
sewer system.
- Bart Schaneman
Ryan
Douglas

MJBizMag March 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MJBizMag March 2021

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