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Canada: Serres Betrand pleased with savings in CubeCap trial

The water saving Drip Caps from Cube Cap are currently on trial at Canadian greenhouse grower Serres Bertrand. The tomato grower in Quebec has been cautiously testing the Drip Caps on a small scale since August 2016 and recently they welcomed a Japanese rockwool manufacturer representative to share the first results of their experience with the Drip Cap irrigation system.


Japanese representative Mr. Bill Gotto discussed with Mr. Khalid Boulrhazioui , Director of research and development for Serres Bertrand his thoughts and observations on the value of the DripCaps being used as a new standard of irrigation method in a commercial facility.

The Drip Cap a simple plastic cap that can be placed on top of a rockwool propagation cube or coco block. The basic function of the cap is that it serves as a vapor barrier to keep moisture in the block for a longer period of time. The water does not evaporate prematurely in the air, and as salt does not stay behind in the block, it is prevented that the EC of the block increases.

Khalid Boulrhazioui is the director of research and development at Serres Bertrand. He said that the commercial tomato grower is so far impressed and pleased with the results and has plans to commence with a much larger trial in Feb 2017.

In the trial, the grower uses drip emitters that emit 25% less than their usual emitters, gaining absolute control over the reduced irrigation cycle. This reduced the needed resources for the crop with 25%, which are huge savings in terms of water and fertilizer usage.


Bill Gotto and Steven Gallo of CubeCap Canada visit the trials at Serres Bertrand

According to Steven Gallo, CEO of CubeCap Canada, even larger savings can be achieved. "Replacing the irrigation standard of Drip Stakes with our Drip Caps will reduce water and fertilizer usage from 30 to 50%."

Gallo claims that the 25% reduction in resources already translates to $4.56 in water savings plus a $.35 in fertilizer savings, which totals to almost 5$ savings per plant, per year. "These calculations based on a 1 acre facility with 11,000 tomato plants translates to over $50,000 in increased profit, per acre, per year", he concluded.

At this moment CubeCap Canada has Drip Caps being tested in Denmark, Kazakhstan, Finland, USA, Quebec and Holland. Growers who are interested in a trial are invited to contacted Steven Gallo for more information;

Capping the Damage: Water and DripCap

by John Vergados , Skunk Magazine

OPENER-protect-your-stalks

Guess what? They’re at it again. As legalization becomes more of a certainty each day, the agents of perpetual suffering are busy trying to find new ways to ensure control of the biggest money crop in the world. How? By finding new ways to demonize the growers who both revere and derive their livelihoods from the plant by suggesting they are the worst threat to an ailing planet, the ultimate idea of a bad joke. But nobody’s laughing.

Water has become the new battleground, especially in California, which has the potential of becoming the biggest cannabis producer on the planet. After years of government corruption, denial, inefficiency and wastefulness, the same group has disingenuously crafted a rather genius plan; blame the cannabis growers for the water shortages threatening the state. It’s an easy sell to a gullible and fearful public and a nice way to shift the blame from both their own failed policies as well as other, more politically friendly agricultural groups.

Water is truly becoming an endangered resource across the world and even though pointing fingers at conscientious growers as the culprits might be a little hard to swallow, the truth is we have to become more vigilant with regards to water conservation and collection. Given the experience with other crops and industries, we know we can’t count on progressive and equitable solutions emanating from government. Excessive governmental intervention isn’t necessarily desirable anyway as it perpetuates the damage, as demonstrated in other legal industries such as wine and almond production. Rather than strive for a system in which cannabis is treated just like any agricultural product it should be our goal to export the ethos and spirit embodied by planet conscious growers towards other areas, and make the cannabis agricultural community the model to emulate.

To this end, each issue of SKUNK will feature a product, idea or improvement on water collection and conservation. We lead it off with the Cube Cap and Drip Cap, simple little products which promise huge savings on both water and nute consumption among other benefits.

CubeCap is a company which first hit the scene eight years ago, with their patented CubeCap, a device designed for “Flood and Drain” and “NFT” systems, to combat algae by keeping light away from your grow medium as well as trapping and isolating moisture in one of its levels thus depriving the algae of the two conditions it needs to survive. Additional tests, conducted in Holland also revealed a significant water savings, 33 to 50%, as the cap reduces evaporation resulting in plants which need much less water without sacrificing yields. In many environments your water often contains your plant food, so the reduced waste will also save you from costly nutrient loss.

A few years later, CubeCap added the DripCap to its product line in order to satisfy the demand for growers preferring top micro irrigation feeding systems and to replace dipper stakes, a product which although problematic hasn’t changed since 1965.

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They essentially deliver the same type of water reduction benefit and aid in providing an algae-free environment. The DripCap can also be used in bottom feeding environments making it an all-in-one wonder but it does require more space as it relies on the pressure furnished by the pumps needed in a central feeding setup. In fact this feature of the DripCap recently necessitated a design change, primarily directed at the hobby grower who operates without many of the bells and whistles available to the commercial facility, particularly pressure regulators.

Many smaller grows were reporting a sudden surge of water which would shoot out the top of the caps as the PSI was above desirable levels. The company is now offering the DripCap without the top air holes and has also added some beveled irrigation nipple holders to hold their hoses firmly into place, completely sealing the water chambers, eliminating the need for pressure regulators or in line valves and emitters. Just pump away and benefit from a range of advantages including minimized algae, fungus gnats & their root eating larva as well as the pesticides and herbicides needed to combat them. There is a lower temperature and increased flushing effect in the block, lowering EC and salt build-up. In addition you should see a reduced energy usage due to minimized use of exhaust fans for venting the minimized ambient humidity.

With advantages like these it might appear that this product is poised to capture a large part of the grower market, both large and small scale, especially in light of the water shortages plaguing many regions. Better still, the benefits are not restricted to cannabis growers as it is suitable to any type of grow, from Purple Kush, to green tomatoes. Hell, this product should even appeal to lawmakers and conservation agencies, provided they are interested in easy solutions.

Sadly, the reality has been a very different experience, as the makers of DripCap, along with Sunlight Supply, their main US distributor, and armed with studies illustrating significant advantages, have solicited every water conservation agency in California offering both information and an intelligent solution. As of yet, they have not received a single response, proving once again that it’s up to us to be the solution; we can’t rely on them.

Vapor barrier on block saves large amounts of water, fertilizer

cubecap

Installing a simple plastic cap as a vapor barrier on your growing medium might be the most simple solution to save money on expensive fertilizers, improve crop yields, and decrease the water footprint. This is what Steven Gallo of CubeCap Canada thought too. For several years now he has run trials with commercial growers, invested in official research studies and even gave away their product, free of charge. Still, Gallo is challenged by growers who do not want to trial the product. "We really want to help the commercial grower, but not one of them wants to be the first to take a chance. They feel that their watering methods work just fine for them, if it isn't broken, why fix it?"

CubeCap Canada’s, DripCap is a simple plastic cap that is placed on top of a stone wool propagation cube, coco block and other medis. The basic function of the cap is that it serves as a vapor barrier to hold in the moisture for a longer period of time.

cubecap

The water does not evaporate prematurely in the air, so the salt does not stay behind increasing the EC of the block. It also has a unique, patented propagation feature built right into the DripCap, eliminating the need for drip stakes. There are two locations available on the top of the DripCap for the grower to attach their propagation hose. The two propagation chambers split off into four outlet locations underneath, allowing for an even disbursement of water onto the growing medium.

Commercial trials

Gallo explained that that the few commercial growers that are currently and successfully using their DripCaps have not allowed CubeCap Canada to publish, use or speak about their results. He says that the reason for this is that it gives them an edge over their competition and they do not want competing companies to know about the lower production costs achieved when using DripCaps.

"When you actually get out your calculator and figure out what a 32.9% reduction in resources translates to, it’s very large number that is hard to believe by most growers.” According to Gallo, a greenhouse in the United States has reduced water usage by over 400,000 Liters and increased their net profit by over 20,000$ USD, per acre, per year”.

Problems with drip stakes

The DripCaps were invented/patented 8 years ago, and manufactured to replace the inefficient & problematic, commonly used drip stakes. Gallo explained that there are currently approximately 6 billion drip stakes being used in greenhouses each year, world wide.

"This is the currently the most popular method for watering & fertilizing used in today's greenhouses.” Most greenhouse growers are not aware of some very costly & correctable problems occurring in their greenhouse on a daily basis as a result of the drip stakes.

According to Gallo, the problems stem from using a drip stake to water while ambient heat causes evaporation. His group ran an 11-month trial at the GreenQ Improvement Centre (currently Delphy) in Holland to analyze and verify the evaporation of common drip stake irrigation versus irrigation with DripCaps.

"The evaporation rate as a result of standard drip stakes in a 22 degree Celsius greenhouse is approx. 32.9%, higher ambient temperatures can push this percentage even up to, and over 50%. This causes a lot of water with fertilizers to evaporate, before it has even a chance to reach the plant."

"Costly & harmful problems associated with so-called premature evaporation of irrigation water," said Gallo. "When a growing medium dries out too fast it leaves a high mineral deposit of salt in the block, which decreases the growth, and more water & fertilizer is needed to replenish the dry medium."

Minimizing algae

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Furthermore Gallo said that the DripCaps can also prevent a moist, wet, exposed surface, in order to minimize Algae accumulation and stems from coming into contact with moisture, rotting. “Less algae means less fungus gnats & root eating larva have access to the stem and roots. As well as this, the algae reduces the oxygen to water ratio available to the plant.

The DripCaps are biodegradable and can be easily disinfected or replaced after a cultivation round or when disinfection takes place to prepare for a new crop.

Free trials

Gallo currently is looking for growers who would like to take advantage of DripCaps solutions and are willing to agree to publish their results. CubeCap is offering free DripCaps for trials with large scale commercial producers, so they can see with their own eyes what effect this system can have on the operational costs of their business.