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Automation and the Future of Indoor Cannabis Farming

By December 20, 2018 No Comments
Legal cannabis mass-produced, purchased and consumed today is some of the safest, cleanest cannabis ever consumed in history – all thanks to legalization.
While cannabis production is becoming more and more sophisticated it can be difficult to remember it’s “roots”. Indoor cannabis farming started out as an underground (basement) practice as cannabis was illegal on both the state and federal level.
Historically, without any product standards, cannabis consumers had little knowledge of the potential toxins they were consuming. In the last decade, many states and countries have legalized medical and recreational use of cannabis, which has led to strict product testing standards and the demand for pharmaceutical grade products grown in strict, cleanroom environments.
Although many cannabis farmers in several states can now cultivate the plant outdoors, indoor farming continues to be preferred method by many cultivators. Indoor cultivation allows for the precise control output quality and quantity – all while mitigating crop-loss and contamination. Indoor farming also ensures a constant supply throughout the year.
According to a Mordor Intelligence report, the increasing need to maximize yield is driving technological advancement in indoor farming of cannabis. Automation technology in marijuana farming has further reduced labor costs while increasing yield. This helps sustain operations for large-scale producers in mature markets where the price of cannabis continues to decrease as overall supply increases.
Cannabis farming is a laborious process which requires cultivators to be meticulous every step of the way.  Automation and advancements in indoor farming have simplified the process and continue to gain in popularity. 
Technology has made it possible to automate processes such as irrigation, nutrient feeding, lighting, temperature and humidity, mitigate contamination and crop-loss, harvesting, sorting, trimming processing, packaging, and labeling. This has significantly reduced on labor costs, improved quality and led to higher, more consistent yields.  It’s also worth noting that the availability of cultivable land in the USA is decreasing year after year, which calls for the advancement of indoor farming to increase output.
Indoor farming of cannabis is becoming more sophisticated with the innovation of high-performance indoor farming technology. Newer indoor growing systems such as aeroponics, aquaponics, hydroponics, hybrid indoor and polycarbonate greenhouse solutions, indoor deep water culture systems, container farms, and indoor vertical agriculture farms will continue to advance the future of indoor cultivation.
Robotics and Autonomous Tech in Cannabis Farming
One noteworthy advancement in automation technology, according to Zdnet.com, is the Smart Robot by Bloom Automation. The Smart Robot is specially designed to harvest cannabis with greater efficiency than human beings. We’ve also seen new technologies in plant monitoring. Companies like DeepGreen AI have developed a “plant diagnosis api” to monitor plants remotely and detect mold, mildew and even the presence of spider mites.
What about the Future?
According to a 2016 Agrilyst report, cannabis was top on the list of the highest revenue generating crops in the US with an output of about $4.8 million per acre (while figures for hemp are almost as staggering – see upcoming cannin news about the implications of the current Farm Bill).  With the increasing demand of the pharma grade cannabis, more efforts will go towards increasing output and quality to command higher revenues.
As such, in the coming decade, it is expected that there will be more indoor farming and automation technology customized specifically for cannabis. Licensed producers will continue to seek new means and methods to lower production costs, increase yield, consistency, and (most importantly) improve yield quality to continue to maintain the highest quality standards in cannabis in history.
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