Tech for Growing Hemp

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By 2025, legal marijuana sales in the US alone are expected to reach $23 billion USD and non THC CBD sales are growing even faster. How are emerging artificial intelligence and robotic technology changing the business of farming cannabis?

How Hemp Is Produced

“Everybody wants to know how to farm hemp, but they don’t realize that everyone already growing hemp does it differently” – Joseph Sisk, Kentucky hemp farmer
  • Planting
    • Falls between the end of May and the beginning of June
    • Hemp clones are provided by an in-state processor
    • Planting population varies between 1,500-4,000 plants per acre*
    • Over 10 days, the seeds are planted into typically 40” rows on flat ground
  • Harvesting
    • What does the labor look like? 40 people could harvest 200 acres in 5 weeks
    • Says Sisk: “At the point of harvest, nobody is doing it the same. We’re all trying to figure out the best way regarding labor and logistics”
  • The Hemp Stripper
    • After being harvested, this robot strips and separates the cannabis plant
      • Save on manpower: Only 1 operator is needed
    • The machine will then strip the plant of the leaves, buds and extra material
    • Resulting products are ready to be refined or processed into oils
  • Small-Scale Growers
    • Come up with a designated growing area
Don’t skimp on space: Cannabis plants can grow to up to 3X while flowering
  • Ensure space is light-tight to maximize growth potential
    • Maintain a cool and dry, rather than warm and wet, atmosphere
New growing solutions enable cannabis businesses to grow the highest quality product in the most technologically-advanced way possible

AI and Robots

“Hemp is becoming one of the world’s most valuable crops. Cultivators and investors are actively seeking ways to monitor the health of the crop to ensure maximum yields… We have launched this initiative to meet the pressing needs for cultivation monitoring of this valuable agricultural commodity” – Jimmy Chan, CEO of Sugarmade
  • Introducing Artificial Intelligence…
    • The technology isn’t new — but using it to grow cannabis is
    • What Can AI Do?
      • Run tests 24/7 and monitor the growing system remotely
      • Find impurities in the plants, such as mold or rot
      • Update and customize growing factors based on individual plans’ needs
    • How Robots Can Help
      • Learning robots recognize if a certain action achieves the desired result
      • This information is stored for the next time it encounters the same situation
      • Robots provide the mechanical action which results from AI’s knowledge
  • FarmBot
    • System of app-controlled “smart” farming
    • Can scale to as many plants as needed
      • Useful for commercial and small-scale growers
    • Collects data and learns what your plants need
  • Seedo
    • Automated hydroponic grow boxes
      • The device monitors and takes pictures of plants
    • Identifies problems and makes changes in real-time
      • Collects information on and controls temperature, humidity, water, lighting, and nutrients

Hydroponics And Other Tech

  • Hydroponics
    • Marijuana or hemp plants grown using a solution of nutrients and water
    • Basic: Hand-watering pots of inert medium with a nutrient solution
      • OR
    • Sophisticated: System of timers, pumps, and reservoirs
  • Extraction
By 2022, the hemp-derived CBD market value is expected to reach $646 million
  • CO2 extraction ─ Yields CBD oil with no harmful chemical residues
  • Ethanol extraction ─ Extracts high-quality oil used for vaping and tinctures
    • BUT this method can be dangerous: Ethanol is highly flammable and volatile
  • ReFraction™ by Apeks Supercritical
    • Uses intelligent sensors to monitor and control the extraction process
    • Works automatically or it can alert the operator for manual decision-making
    • Maximizes yield by customizing settings and eliminating costly time spent manually monitoring the system
      • Helps avoid diminished returns and partial extractions
Complex hydroponics make up for the setup time and a greater initial investment with a better grow and greater yield
  • Sugarmade
    • Platform that tracks field conditions in real-time
    • AI-driven devices are placed within hemp fields to monitor growth
      • Makes active recommendations to mitigate water issues as they arise
    • Data is linked back to central control systems
      • Measures soil moisture, temperature, humidity, etc.
  • Vertical Farming
    • Leads to greater capital efficiency in growing operations – increasing output per square foot as much as 6x
  • Agrify Vertical Farming Unit
    • Integrated grow operation software that includes hydroponics, grow racks, LED horticultural lighting, and monitoring and remediation for mold and other contaminants
Can grow tech usher in the future of cannabis agriculture?

References:

https://www.seedolab.com/ https://farm.bot/pages/commercial https://science.howstuffworks.com/robot6.htm https://www.marijuanabreak.com/cbd-cannabis-extraction https://www.marijuanabreak.com/is-ethanol-extraction-for-cannabis-toxic https://www.agprofessional.com/article/how-grow-hemp-cbd-seed-or-fiber https://www.agrify.com/blog/agrify-to-showcase-indoor-grow-solutions-at-mjbizcon https://www.leafly.com/news/growing/hydroponic-gardening-systems-for-growing-cannabis https://www.leafly.com/news/growing/cannabis-growing-101-everything-you-need-to-get-started https://www.nj.com/marijuana/2019/10/these-robots-are-learning-to-grow-weed-yes-theyre-pot-bots.html https://newfrontierdata.com/ http://prnewswire.com/news-releases/sugarmade-begins-development-of-artificial-intelligence-based-hemp-cultivation-monitoring-systems-300849418.html