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AI Helping to Optimize Marijuana Cultivation

The use of machine learning in indoor marijuana cultivation facilities is increasing, with growers using advanced cameras and sensors to sound alarms on threats such as disease or pests, decrease labor costs linked to different level growing tasks and maintain optimal conditions for plant growth.

The primary reasons why marijuana and other indoor cultivation companies are making use of artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning tech in their facilities include the following:

  • Consistency is needed in indoor growing facilities, and artificial intelligence can deliver this.
  • Resources such as energy and labor that are required to cultivate marijuana indoors are costly; consequently, tech powered by AI can help decrease those costs.

At the moment, artificial intelligence for indoor cultivation is almost able to monitor and call attention to invisible things such as changes in growth rate in plants. Once consistency is achieved in the future, artificial intelligence may be able to improve rates of growth.

For 22Red’s Head of cultivation, Stephen Hess, artificial intelligence has eliminated most of the logistical and manual work involved in growing marijuana. This has afforded the Arizona-based marijuana company more time to focus on other tasks while also saving on labor costs.

The company implemented the Spyder technology, developed by Neatleaf, at its facility. The technology is comprised of sensors that track data such as humidity, temperature and leaf color at different times of the day for microclimates or individual plants in the facility. This technology then evaluates data collected to detect signs or patterns of stress and presents its findings on a dashboard, complete with light maps, heat maps and charts, for the company to study.

According to Hess, the technology’s recommendations are more accurate because it makes calculations based on what the system has monitored. Before 22Red used this technology, it had to use handheld sensors to collect the same data. In addition, thousands of dollars in salaries were spent annually for employees who did this work.

Now with this tech, the company only pays $600 in subscription fees to Neatleaf along with another $600 monthly for assessments.

It should be noted, however,  that not all facilities can accommodate this Neatleaf system. Currently, Spyder cannot collect data from areas that are blocked or too low. This includes vertical growing facilities or facilities whose pillars block the sensors.

22Red isn’t the only company making use of advanced technology in their facilities either. Other companies, such as Jushi Holdings, use equipment with machine- learning to control their building-management system. This has allowed the Florida-based company to efficiently gather and analyze data and produce marijuana more sustainably while also decreasing energy costs.

As more AI solutions become available, a time may come when major cannabis companies such as Aurora Cannabis Inc. (NASDAQ: ACB) (TSX: ACB) largely rely on these systems to grow higher-quality marijuana to address the needs of their customers.

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