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A Step-By-Step Guide To A Successful Commercial Irrigation System

So you’re ready to get your commercial cannabis facility up and running. While it can feel like an enormous undertaking, once you’ve got it dialed in with the right irrigation system and nutrients, you’ll be rewarded with both predictable yields and profitable crops.

To start, let’s take a look at the major components you’ll find in common types of commercial irrigation systems, from reverse osmosis water and pumps to fertigation, filtration, and more.

Step One: Choose a water reservoir to store and supply water for your grow

Our recommendation is to always grow cannabis with reverse osmosis water. Because reverse osmosis water has a starting point of 0ppm, you’ll receive a clearer picture of what you’re feeding your crop. Plus, you’ll decrease the risk of unwanted minerals that can cause equipment failures

Commercial reverse osmosis system options.

Step Two: Select the right piping for your commercial irrigation system

Schedule 40 PVC and schedule 80 PVC for cannabis commercial systems.

Schedule 40 pipes can handle the necessary PSI, but we recommend schedule 80 pipes for safer operation. When you use Schedule 80 pipes, they’ll block light from passing through, helping you to avoid algae biofilms that are known to cause problems with commercial irrigation systems.

Poly drip irrigation tubing or Flex PVC Pipe for Commercial Cannabis Cultivation.

When it comes to the pipes running from your main hard lines to individual zones, either flexible PVC or poly tubing will work just fine.

Step Three: Select the right water pump

When setting up a commercial irrigation system, you always want to use a “pressure pump” that maintains a consistent pressure between 40 and 60 PSI. These will only turn on when a solenoid feed valve opens, dropping the PSI and signaling the pressure switch to start powering the pump.

Commercial water pumps for cannabis growers' systems.

You’ll find these kinds of pumps in residential homes as well because of the consistent water pressure they provide, making them the perfect choice for commercial irrigation systems.

Step Four: Select a fertigation technique (e.g. nutrient dosing systems/injecting)

When it comes to nutrient dosing systems, you’ve got multiple techniques to choose from for your irrigation system.

Automatic nutrient dosing systems for commercial hydroponic cannabis growing.

  • Batch Tank Mixing: The most hands-on fertigation technique, batch tank mixing requires growers to hand weigh and mix fertilizers into large water reservoirs, which are then irrigated to plants.
  • Dosers (i.e. Dosatron/Mix Rite): As your facility grows, you will want to find ways to free your time and eliminate human error from your operations. And that’s exactly where an automatic nutrient doser comes into play. If you’re looking for a simple set up, consider water-driven, non-electric nutrient dosers such as Dosatron or Mix Rite. Keep in mind that they only run a single analog injection setting for a single nutrient.
  • Fertigation Systems (i.e. Netaflex/Rhythm): For even more automation, then consider investing in a fertigation system that can inject multiple fertilizers into various recipes tailored to any phase or zone in your grow. While a fertigation system is the most expensive fertigation technique, it’s worthwhile if you want a precise, efficient, and predictable commercial irrigation system for optimal yields.

Step Five: Adjust Your pH Levels (UNLESS You’re Using pH Perfect® Technology)

If you use Advanced Nutrients’ pH Perfect® base nutrients, you’ll never have to worry about adjusting your pH, because the pH Perfect® technology automatically adjusts it to the sweet spot for optimal nutrient availability. So you can skip this step and move onto the next.

However, if you’re using other base nutrients, then you’ll need to adjust your pH according to your fertigation technique.

With batch tanks, you’ll need to hand weigh and test and with doser systems, you’ll need an additional doser for pH Up and Down products. If you invest in a fertigation system, all you will need to do is program your desired pH level.

Step 6: Set Up Filtration For Your Commercial Irrigation System

Commercial water filtration systems.

It’s very important to protect your equipment and your irrigation lines from nutrient sediment that can build up over time.

We recommend that you use disc filters with a minimum of 120 mesh (130 micron), and that you run an oversized inlet on the filter to slow down flow for optimal filtration. The more consistent you are about maintaining and cleaning your filter, the less likely you’ll be to run into clogging issues or system failure.

Step 7: Set Up Your Solenoid Valves For Zone Control

Cannabis irrigation system solenoid valve.After you’ve mixed, filtrated, pumped, and pressurized nutrients into the lines, you’ll use solenoid valves to introduce them to your plant’s root zone.

Solenoid valves run off 24v electric wiring connected to an irrigation controller. You can choose an irrigation controller that’s as simple as a timer or as complex as algorithms that monitor substrate data for even more accurate feedings. Just remember that mineral accumulation can cause solenoids to get stuck in an open or closed position, so you’ll want to maintain them regularly.

Step 8: Select Your Water Emitters

Once the solenoid valve is activated, the water will begin to pressurize the irrigation zone, with even pressure enabling each plant to receive a predictable amount of nutrient water.

You want to choose water emitters based on both velocity and volume of water flow, as well as water pressure. After choosing your emitters, place them near the top of your substrate and feed them through a ¼ inch emitter line that runs from the main irrigation line.

PC drip emitters, Deep drip watering stake, and other commercial irrigation system water emitters.

You can choose from several types of irrigation stakes that hold the water emitter in an optimal position for each plant and root zone.

Step 9: Increase the Functionality of Your Irrigation System

Commercial cannabis irrigation systems flush valves and air bleed valves.For optimal functionality and lower risks, you can add the following components to your irrigation line:

Flush valves: These are closed when the line is pressurized. Once the PSI has dropped low enough to open the valve, these flush valves will keep drip lines clear of any lingering nutrient solution from previous feeds.

Air bleed valves: Install air bleed valves at the highest point of a zone’s irrigation drip line. This enables air to escape the line at the beginning, so you enjoy more consistent drip distribution without any air pockets.

Finally, you’ll want to…

Choose the Right Cannabis Nutrients for Your Commercial Facility

For increased potency, yield, and flavor, check out Advanced Nutrients’ Sensi Professional Series.

These comprehensive and cost-effective water-soluble powders have been designed for large-scale and craft producers who are looking to increase the value of their crops and expand their profit margins, generating greater ROI from every run.

Explore Advanced Nutrients’ commercial offerings HERE and watch this video to see how you can take your facility to a whole new level by changing only ONE variable in your routine.
 

 
If you have any questions about our Sensi Grow™ Part A+B Professional Series and Sensi Bloom™ Part A+B Professional Series, don’t hesitate to contact us.
 
In the meantime, watch our Global Director of Cultivation answer common questions about Advanced Nutrients’ new line of powder fertilizers for top-performing cannabis producers.
 

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Since 1999, Advanced Nutrients has been committed to educating the community and bringing the most up-to-date knowledge to the forefront of grows across the globe. Every article you read here has been curated by Advanced Nutrients’ industry experts, so you can continue raising your bud weight… and your reputation.

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Over time, components within the nutrients settle on the bottom of the bottle. When you pour a bottle without shaking it, you can potentially be pouring out an unbalanced solution. Shaking up the nutrient bottle ensures you are pouring the right blend into your reservoir, giving your crops the nutrition they need.

Usually, it’s not a problem. But some products are incompatible with each other and can damage your plants when they’re used together. For example, bloom boosters with high PK numbers or low-grade silica products can destabilize your nutrient mix and cause nutrient lockout.

Nutrient manufacturers design their products to be used with each other. In doing so, they include specific portions of each nutrient in each product, so crops receive the right nutrition through each stage of the grow cycle. When you stick with one manufacturer, you don’t have to worry about inadvertently destabilizing your nutrient mixture. One example of why you need to stick with only one manufacturer’s products is Advanced Nutrients’ pH Perfect line. These products are designed to keep your crops’ root zone within a specific pH range. When you use them alongside products from another manufacturer, we can’t guarantee your root zone will maintain its optimal pH level.

Yes! If you’re growing with Advanced Nutrients products, you can use our easy nutrient calculator to generate the correct nutrient chart for your crops in seconds. Check out Advanced Nutrients’ nutrient calculator here. Another great resource is our library of free custom-growing recipes. Try our expert grower-tested nutrient schedules here.

You can also download our official BudLabs app to generate nutrient schedules and receive real-time notifications for specific tasks, including feeding your crops. Upgrade to BudLabs Pro to maintain profiles on an unlimited number of crops.

If you are a grower, visit this link to find the closest Advanced Nutrients Authorized Retailer. If you are a retailer, visit this link to identify our official distributors.

Our greatest passion is growing great cannabis—and helping other growers do the same. That’s why we offer complimentary cultivation support 24/7 from Monday to Friday and from 9 AM until 7 PM PST on Saturday… With the same level of advice licensed producers would pay consultants tens of thousands of dollars to unlock.
Just call 1-800-640-9605 or email support@advancednutrients.com. For Spanish-speaking growers, email spanishsupport@advancednutrients.com.

Yes! If for any reason you are not absolutely thrilled with the results you achieve when you use our products, just bring the unused portion, along with your original sales receipt, back to the place of purchase within six months, and ask for your money back. Find out more about our Grower Guarantee here.

Advanced Nutrients has spent many thousands of man-hours developing a technology that automatically balances your pH for you — putting it in the “sweet spot” and holding it there for one week.

And the technology is so “smart” that it can account for many of the aforementioned variables in your grow room. Our proprietary pH buffering agents and stabilizing mechanisms became the foundation of a new system aptly called pH Perfect® Technology. Learn all about it here.