New CEA Water Technology for Modern Producers

An Inside Look at an Important CEA Market Segment 

As seen in many of today’s markets, the controlled environment agriculture (CEA) industry is often shaped by the advent of new technologies. As the leading CEA recruiting agency, M&F Talent explores ways that new technologies influence business growth and career opportunities in the industry. 

new CEA water technology

From time to time, the team at M&F Talent enjoys writing thought leadership blogs that expand beyond the realm of staffing and recruiting. The blogs generally touch on other important topics in the industry such as new technologies and production methods. For this piece, the M&F Talent marketing team reached out to  Silver Bullet Water Treatment and GrowGeneration to get a better understanding of how new water treatment technologies are shaping the greater food production landscape. 

Silver Bullet Water Treatment is a Colorado-based company that offers water filtration and treatment technologies for farmers. Their CEA division is spearheaded by the VP of Horticulture Kyle Lisabeth. GrowGeneration is the biggest retail hydro store chain in the United States, with over 50 locations. Frank Hegardt is their Commercial Accounts Manager, as well as their water filtration expert. Both Lisabeth and Hegardt were very helpful in getting us up-to-speed on the latest developments in water technology for CEA production. 

Thought Leadership in the CEA Staffing Space 

Due to the technical nature of the market, only certain staffing agencies can handle the rigors of working in a specialized field like CEA. Yet, if a recruiter isn’t knowledgeable about the industries where they work, it is very difficult for them to find qualified candidates. This notion is only exacerbated with complex technologies such as commercial water treatment systems.  

The team M&F Talent is well-respected for thought leadership in our field. Whether it be publishing articles in magazines like Maximum Yield or taking part in panel discussions at tradeshows like Indoor AgCon, the industry trusts our opinions and insights. We enjoy speaking with companies like Silver Bullet Water Treatment and GrowGeneration about new developments in the market. 

Just as seen with previous innovations like LED grow lights, new CEA water technology is progressing the industry in new and interesting ways. Today, innovative water treatment and filtration companies are working tirelessly to give CEA growers better water quality. Even more, by focusing on important issues with water usage, they are helping establish new environmental standards for CEA production

How Has CEA Water Technology Changed?

Agricultural water technology has changed dramatically over the last two decades. This change is partly attributable to different focuses on crop choice. As Lisabeth tells us, “20 years ago, plants being grown in controlled environment agriculture infrastructure focused on flowers and select fruits and vegetables.” With such different aims, people of that era were not as concerned with water quality as, say, hydro leafy greens growers are today. Hegardt further elaborates, stating, that back then “agricultural water application standards were definitely lacking testing and procedure.” 

The evolution of technology has greatly influenced water filtration and treatment in CEA. Just a couple of decades ago, greenhouse water tech looked much different than it does today. According to Lisabeth, 20 years ago “simple bag and sand media filtration systems were used to remove large solids. [Yet], there was little concern with dissolved contaminants like metals or chemical residuals, and no one was using RO filtration systems” Obviously, with even the smallest CEA farms today using advanced testing, RO systems, and automated fertigation, things have changed quite a bit. 

As new water treatment technology has advanced, so have corresponding career opportunities in the CEA industry. Today, water filtration and treatment businesses employ a wide array of talented professionals – including researchers, engineers, and salespeople. 

Government Regulation

Innovations with new CEA water technology are also tied to government regulations. As we come to learn more about the importance ofnew CEA water technology clean water, new rules are set in place to protect consumers as well as the environment. Hegardt puts it this way, “In 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was passed. This act made water testing mandatory. Such as testing of water quality at the source, testing for sterile equipment, testing runoff, and a 10-year source evaluation.” 

With new regulations in place, comprehensive water management companies like Silver Bullet Water Treatment have engineered new technologies and established best management practices to help ensure a constant supply of clean water. Lisabeth explains, “As water supplies began to decline, competition for water resources rose, and energy costs influenced irrigation type and management. While treatment technologies began to come online, so did sensor-based data systems, autonomous management, and micro-irrigation systems.” 

Interestingly, as certain regions start to grow more competitive for available water sources, new technologies are helping with conservation efforts. In some instances, CEA operations use water more efficiently, while others might treat and reuse grey water. 

The Importance of Water Testing

Today, water quality is considered one of the most important factors in running a successful CEA operation. Yet, more goes into it thannew CEA water technology simply filtering or treating your water. A large part of CEA water tech is dedicated to testing. Hergardt feels adamantly “Having knowledge of your water quality is crucial to your growing success. It is the key to life.” Lisabeth is in agreement here, explaining “It is critical to understand what constituents are in water and how they will impact the intended use. Some are pathogenic or toxic to plants, others may not be compatible with nutrient recipes, and still, others may cause excessive maintenance issues.” 

Especially for large-scale, commercial producers, monitoring water quality is a very important job that happens daily. When it comes to hydroponic systems, even the smallest shift in PH or PPM can have catastrophic consequences on a crop. It’s no wonder that cultivation technicians dedicate a portion of their workday to testing water. 

What Happens if a CEA Producer Ignores Water Quality?

Both GrowGeneration and Silver Bullet Water Treatment have clients whose crops have suffered because they were complacent with water filtration and treatment. Hergardt illustrates, “It is key to have professional water testing done so you know what your base levels are. After that, you assess what purification system is suited to your specific needs.” Without such careful protocol, crop health can quickly decline.

new CEA water technology

Lisabeth recalls a client who “had been operating for about 3 years and had no form of sanitation or shock treatment abilities.” In time, they “began to see fluctuations in PH.” They brought Silver Bullet Water Treatment to the operation and discovered the “irrigation plumbing showed excessive amounts of biofilm accumulation, which required extensive rework to resolve.” 

Simply put, no CEA producer could survive and thrive without a quality water source fueling its operation. Water is a critical resource for CEA farms that must be both cared for and protected. As such, clean water is one piece of the puzzle in creating a sustainable CEA business and keeping people employed. 

The Environmental Benefits of New CEA Water Technology

Beyond helping growers, new CEA water technology and best management practices also are helping curb issues with environmental degradation. Lisabeth explains it like this, “CEA will continue to be put under a microscope. These farms are seen as energy and water-intensive, and it will be up to the industry as a whole to prove otherwise.  Fortunately, efficient use of water and several water recycling options exist for CEA farms. Silver Bullet sees water monitoring, auditing, and water footprint being key data metrics that every farm monitors moving forward.” 

In an interesting turn of events, advancements in CEA water technology are paying serious dividends well beyond the business world. As the global population continues to grow, water treatment technology will likely play a pivotal role in conserving and sharing resources. 


As crop producers continue to revise their methods, we see an increased interest in new CEA water technology. Importantly, growers now realize the importance of knowing exactly what is in their water. In the end, you could have the best nutrient formula on earth, but it won’t pay out if your PPM and EC levels are off the charts. In turn, you simply can’t have a profitable CEA business without a reliable water source. 

In today’s CEA market, companies like GrowGeneration and Silver Bullet are working together to educate the public on the importance of clean water. In doing so, Lisabeth and Hergardt also work tirelessly to promote the technologies and best management practices that help CEA producers, while also protecting the environment. With an array of options for new CEA water technology on the market, ranging from commercial reverse osmosis systems to cloud-based crop monitoring, the future is looking quite interesting. 

As clean water becomes an increasingly important topic in the CEA industry, it will be interesting to see how this market segmentation will impact future jobs. More than likely, we will see a rising need for CEA water system specialists like engineers, technicians, and salespeople. 

Interested in New CEA Water Technology? Talk to M&F Talent

 As the foremost recruiting service in the CEA industry, the team at M&F Talent pays close attention to the latest technological innovations in the market. Contact us to discuss how new CEA technologies impact job growth.