There is a long-standing debate throughout the cannabis community of whether indoor production is superior to greenhouse growing. While some people swear by a certain method of production, the truth is that there are pros and cons to each one. From our perspective at Virox®, we want to help you get a better understanding of the differences between these methods when it comes to cleaning and disinfection.
Growing plants in a greenhouse takes advantage of natural sunlight, using light deprivation to accelerate the flowering process. The most obvious advantage of this production method is the cost savings – while indoor growing requires significant energy expenditure in the form of artificial lighting and fans, greenhouse production uses the sun’s light to support the growth of healthy plants.
This being said, these benefits come with a major downside: it’s difficult to control all aspects of the environment in a greenhouse setting. Factors like climate, temperature, and air circulation can fluctuate, making it more difficult to maintain a consistent quality to your final product.
Unlike greenhouse production facilities, which are vulnerable to changes in the environment, indoor production facilities allow you to control every aspect of the growing process. Installing lights and fans ensures that lighting and air circulation will be tightly controlled, and the temperature and humidity of the growing room will be maintained at a constant level. This makes it significantly easier to ensure that a consistent quality is maintained throughout the year.
As mentioned previously, the major drawback of this method is that it is substantially more costly and resource-intensive when compared to greenhouse or outdoor production.
Generally speaking, more controlled environments are easier from a pest management standpoint. This holds true for cannabis production facilities as well: greenhouses are designed to let outside air inside, which comes with a risk of pathogen introduction from the environment. Also, maintaining proper air circulation is an important factor in preventing the spread of certain infections such as powdery mildew, which is easier to achieve in a sealed indoor environment.
In terms of the actual process of cleaning and disinfecting, this really comes down to the types of surfaces that are present in a facility. Disinfectants are designed for use on hard, non-porous surfaces, such as stainless steel, most plastics, and rubbers. On the other hand, soft, porous surfaces are much more difficult to properly disinfect, and should be avoided where possible throughout your production areas.
When addressing the key differences in disinfection practice between the two growing environments, it is also important to consider a perpetual harvest approach vs. a complete room harvest. While employing a perpetual harvest, as a majority of greenhouses do, you cannot spray or foam a disinfectant as plants will still be in the room. In contrast, most indoor facilities will harvest the entire room, which allows them to use spray or foam applications and reduce the total time spent cleaning.
Another thing to consider is surface coverage – ideally, it should be easy for your disinfectant to achieve full coverage of the surfaces throughout your facility. Greenhouses tend to have more cracks and small spaces where pathogens can hide, making it more difficult to ensure that the entire area is being adequately covered.
Although both surface type and surface coverage are important general considerations in building a disinfection program, every facility is unique. It’s critical to the health of your plants and your team to develop a disinfection program that is the right fit for your facility, including compliance with local regulations and ease of implementation. In future posts, we’ll take a deep dive into the various factors that will help make your disinfection program successful, protecting the health of your yield throughout the entire production process.