Every day, your grow room may be subject to a barrage of airborne contaminants that can wreak havoc on your crop. Powdery mildew, botrytis and bud mold—along with a host of other infestations—can ruin your yield and cause massive headaches.
Fortunately, an air sanitation technology known as “photocatalytic oxidation” (or PCO) offers a safe means of eliminating even the most pernicious fungus, mold and pathogens, while also making you less reliant on pesticides and fungicides.
The secret is a chemical process that neutralizes contaminants before they can damage your crop. PCO alters pollutants on a molecular level, rather than just filtering them out of the air. Pioneered by NASA, the process eliminates fungus, bacteria, viruses and other airborne microbes.
For example, the Boulder, Colo.-based company Surna uses PCO in the air sanitation system that it provides to professional growers. PCO can eliminate a broad range of contaminants, said Brandy Keen, Surna’s vice president of sales. As an added bonus, “It’s absolutely going to minimize your reliance” on pesticides and fungicides, she said.
Here’s how PCO works: Fans pull air into the air sanitation unit, which contains ultraviolet lights and a reactor bed. Glass rings coated with titanium dioxide are located inside the reactor bed to capture pollutants. The titanium dioxide acts as a catalyst for a reaction that creates hydroxyl radicals, which breaks down the pollutants’ carbon bonds. The only byproducts of this reaction are small amounts of water and carbon dioxide, making it safe for both plants and humans.
The air sanitation units require little maintenance and are energy efficient. Additionally, they prevent cross-contamination and release no harmful materials back into the air, according to Surna’s fact sheet on biosecurity equipment.
The process can’t completely eliminate all contaminants, so it’s a good idea to also use other biosecurity measures. Contaminants can enter your facility through the air, the soil and even your own employees, Keen said. For example, if one of your growers is cultivating cannabis at home, any pest or blight on the home grow could be transferred easily into your operation. Establishing protocols to control contamination is also an important step in protecting your crop.
Regardless, PCO can be a powerful tool in your arsenal for fighting off airborne contaminants. Surna’s air sanitation systems are best for use in areas designated for the cloning, vegetative and flowering stages of the plant cycle, Keen said. The company recommends installing one unit for every 10,000 cubic feet. However, spreading them thinner throughout your operation should still yield positive results.
“If you can afford one, put one in,” Keen said. “It’s all going to have an impact.”
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