Growing cannabis in industrial quantities may soon become completely automated, allowing artificial intelligence (AI) and robot arms to take on the hard task of cultivating connoisseur-grade buds.
High-tech startup Seedo already turned heads last year with its first product, Seedo Lab—a home cannabis farming device the size and shape of a mini refrigerator. The device, which uses computerized optical systems and climate control tech to “home-grow cannabis from seed to flower under controlled conditions,” began shipping to California in February.
But now, the Israeli company has announced that it will establish the world’s very first fully automated commercial cannabis farm using technology that can ensure consistent “pharmaceutical-grade” buds year-round. The company claims that its technology can be used to grow any plants, even in traditionally no-go zones such as barren, polluted, drought-stricken, or otherwise non-arable land .
Seedo estimates that the project will allow it to produce a yield of “at least 14 tons of dry cannabis buds” that would generate around $24 million in the span of three years. The automated farm will be based in a Kibbutz Dan, an agricultural community near the northern border with Lebanon. Tel Aviv recently approved the export of medical marijuana.
In a recent press release, Seedo noted that the over-use of pesticides, solvents, and bacteria in legal cannabis markets has posed a threat not only consumers but to medical marijuana patients who depend on cannabis for the treatment of their ailments and health conditions.
The press release added:
“Seedo is now applying its proven technology, originally developed for home-grow devices, towards containers for commercial scale. This new offering will allow Seedo to leverage and adapt its existing and proven AI-powered technology to commercial farming applications, thereby maximizing the quality, yield and reliability of crops regardless of local climate conditions.
By taking the guesswork out of the cultivation process, communities will be able to grow both native and non-native products with less labor, energy and water than ever before. The airtight, stackable containers will allow cultivators to optimize land-use and reduce the environmental footprint of their farming operations.”
A promotional video accompanying the announcement offered a tantalizing glimpse of how the 21st-century growing operation would work. The farm itself consists of stacked units built inside shipping containers, with each container said to be capable of producing at least 326 pounds of dried buds per year.
The inside of the container is teeming with the technology needed to ensure a “high quality crop,” such as robotic arms that handle the physical tasks of cannabis cultivation, cameras that ensure the crop is growing in an optimal manner, and machine-learning software under the hood that manages the overall operation.
The company also claims that its climate-controlled and fully automated indoor growing machines can ensure a pesticide-free, commercial-scale, and fully consistent high-grade product for the world market while conserving energy, water and labor.
If the farm is successful, it could disrupt the burgeoning legal marijuana industry in the same way that agricultural robotics, hydroponics, and sodium lighting have revolutionized year-round greenhouse vegetable production, minimizing material and labor input while ensuring the conditions to cultivate consistently high-grade, organically-grown produce.