AUGUST 25, 2023

AI and Cannabis Growers: Revolutionizing Cultivation Techniques

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Picture this: a greenhouse where AI-powered sensors monitor every aspect of your cannabis plants' growth, from humidity levels, light spectrum to CO2 levels and nutrient intake. Sounds a little too sci-fi to be real? Wondering if it’s just theoretical? Nope, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has already made its mark in the industry. As someone who's deeply invested in the world of cannabis and its cultivation, I couldn't be more thrilled to share the latest developments with you all.

An Overview of AI and Machine Learning 

Before diving into how AI and ML are causing a stir in the cannabis space, let's unravel the mysteries behind these tech buzzwords. AI falls within the broader category of computer science and involves creating machines that are capable of performing tasks normally requiring human intelligence – such as spotting patterns, learning from experiences, and making decisions.

Machine learning (ML) is a subset of AI. It involves crafting algorithms that allow computers to learn and improve over time. Instead of giving them step-by-step instructions, we feed them a bunch of data, and the ML models use this to make predictions or decisions without being programmed to perform the specific tasks.

Cultivating Cannabis with the Power of AI 

Growing cannabis requires some serious know-how, especially since each strain has its own unique requirements. Managing a cannabis grow operation can thus be quite a complex task. This is where AI and ML can make a real difference. Cannabis growers are exploring AI-driven solutions to enhance cultivation practices and maximize yield. They've partnered with tech firms specializing in AI and agricultural sciences to develop systems that optimize every stage of plant growth. Here’s how:

1. Precision Breeding

Data analytics are used to predict the performance of various cannabis seed varieties in challenging conditions using genetic and phenotypic data. By using AI, growers can now identify plants that will produce an abundance of buds and have an improved resistance to pests and diseases. Industry leader Bayer has impressively led the way in developing cutting-edge "precision breeding" technology, which combines conventional approaches with genomic sequencing and generative AI. This innovative method has two advantages: it allows for the creation of strains that are adaptable to a variety of climates, as well as the customization of traits like size, flavor, and color to suit individual consumer preferences.

2. Threat Prediction

Cutting-edge technology known as Weed-AI is used to examine data from sensors, cameras, and other monitoring systems. It identifies problems like pests or diseases and offers real-time information on the health and growth of the plants. This enables timely and cost-effective corrective intervention that can minimize crop losses.

3. Anticipating Crop Yields 

To help predict potential yield, AI is used to examine data from the weather, soil, and other factors. This enables it to optimize harvesting schedules, particularly in the winter when growing cannabis is more difficult. AI can also assist with automating trimming technology so that it’s able to de-leaf buds, which saves countless hours of manual labor. Similarly, it can be applied to automated planting equipment to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of planting. Additionally, AI can identify the sex of the plants, detect sick plants, heal or remove sick plants from the environment, and track the plant growth rate - all which helps forecast size and yield.

4. Enhancing Irrigation Efficiency

Optimized irrigation is crucial to the health of cannabis plants. By monitoring soil moisture levels and weather patterns, AI emerges as a powerful tool in this effort. Most importantly, it helps growers avoid the dangers of overwatering, which is a major cause of root rot. Smart water management also has certain financial advantages. Water waste can be reduced by automating irrigation schedule adjustments in response to changing weather patterns, which has a direct impact on water expenses. Moreover, AI systems are adept at detecting potential issues with irrigation systems, such as clogged pipes or leaks, which allows growers to take prompt corrective action.

5. Ensuring Optimum Growth

The use of AI in sensors and high-definition cameras can be used to keep track of and adjust multiple inputs in the growing environment such as the PH level, temperature, humidity, nutrient feed, light spectrum and CO2 levels. Tracking and adjusting these inputs can make a major difference in the quantity and quality of cannabis that growers are able to produce. AI ensures that each plant receives the personalized care it needs.

6. Classifying Cannabis Strains and Potency 

Understanding the chemical makeup of cannabis plants is critical for adhering to regulatory requirements. To properly identify cannabinoids and hence classify cannabis varietals, predictive models have the power to integrate spectroscopy, x-ray imaging techniques, and machine learning. Even in cases where available data was insufficient, researchers were able to classify cannabis strains into several groups (medicinal, recreational, mixed, and industrial) based on their chemical features. Not only can such models improve understanding of cannabis potency, but they also protect the quality and health of end users.

The Challenges of AI 

The benefits of utilizing AI in cannabis cultivation are undeniably impressive. However, there are definitely challenges to overcome as well. The implementation of AI systems requires a heavy initial financial investment in technology, training, and infrastructure. Additionally, not all growers are tech-savvy, so chances are there may be a strong learning curve involved. Balancing the upfront costs with the long-term benefits is a consideration every grower will need to make.

The Bottom Line 

The age-old debate between tradition and innovation takes center stage when comparing AI with conventional farming methods in the cannabis industry. But as someone who's passionate about both cannabis and the power of technology, I'm genuinely excited about the direction the industry is headed. The fusion of AI and cannabis cultivation is not only impressive but also holds immense potential for positive change. Now, I'm not here to suggest that AI will be able to replace the green thumbs and expertise of skilled growers. Rather, AI should be used as a tool that complements human knowledge and intuition. It's a partnership that allows us to leverage technology to achieve better results, all while staying true to the art and science of cultivating cannabis.








Monique Demes

Copywriter at CanMar

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