How Data Advances Indoor Marijuana Growing In An age of Technology
This is not your grandfather’s marijuana farm.
Marijuana production has shifted from manual cultivation using makeshift materials, along with a lot of trial and error, into high-tech manufacturing through software and hardware that eliminates human fallibility in the equation.
Organigram, one of Canada’s leading pot growers, is one such company that fully automated the production process.
In a recent interview with Matt Rogers for Leafy.com, he explained that when they decided to expand their business, automation became necessary in order to guarantee superior quality products across the different strains.
How Do They Obtain Superior Quality?
For instance, a patented software which they dubbed “Organigrow” will track the temperature inside the indoor facility, the nutrients, the alkalinity in the water, and even the number of manpower-hours are being recorded into the database. The innovative tech will check more than 20 different tasks simultaneously every hour.
All the data is fed into its computers which will then help the company anticipate possible issues and intercept problems before they developed into a full-blown crisis. The big data will only continue to grow as the company experiments with the different growing methods for each strain. The main goal, of course, is to produce the best version of the flower before it’s distributed in the market.
He said “by eliminating the human factor, the communication is between the plant and the computers”. The plant will “inform” the computer what it requires and in turn, the software will take note of these requirements and make sure to supply them at the exact moment when the plant needs it.
Once the system is perfect for a particular plant, this can then be scaled into hundreds and thousands of the same strain in perpetuity.
Legal Marijuana Statistics
Legal recreational and medical marijuana was estimated to earn $10 billion in 2017, which was a significant uptick from the $6.73 billion in 2016. The market is only expected to grow as more and more states shift from wait-and-see mode to adoption.
As indoor farms expand, so will their energy footprints. Evan Mills headed a study for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and he concluded that marijuana cultivation represented one percent of the entire electricity usage in the United States. This accounts for $6 billion per year. In terms of carbon footprint, the industry is responsible for about 15 million tons of greenhouse gas per year.
For comparison, that’s the same volume of CO2 greenhouse emission produced by about three million vehicles.
Why Develop Software Systems?
There used to be a big gap in the software application for this purpose, which is one of the reasons why Organigram developed its own system.
Now, more and more big data platforms have realized the big potential market of the cannabis industry. A mobile application that will give the grower real-time information of all the monitored facts and figures of the indoor cultivation will be crucial to the standardization of product quality offered by the brand.
However, full automation is not possible with something as delicate as marijuana. The fact is that some of the plants are not as receptive to machines. This is where an experienced human touch is essential but still using all the information available in the big data.
Organigram knows that it’s just scratching the surface in the adoption of technological innovations in marijuana production. There are many advantages to data gathering, even in the volume of soil in its flower pot is being measured to ensure consistency during the transplanting process, for example. Now, the Canadian company is looking at ways to develop a technological system to automate the curing and drying process in order to gain an edge over the competition.
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