Imagine this: a greenhouse equipped with the latest HID lighting, automated irrigation & nutrient distribution systems, as well as sensors that can detect the humidity, the height of the plants and even cultivation readiness based on image recognition of the flower.
All of these technologies exist today in different phases of maturity. Some of the larger cannabis licenced producers are already equipping their greenhouses and production spaces with them. So, have these companies already fully embraced Industry 4.0? Not yet! This is why:
Industry 4.0 refers to the fourth industrial revolution where machines are equipped with wireless connectivity and sensors, in a fully integrated eco-system of applications that can visualise and control the entire production process and make decisions on their own.
“From the first industrial revolution (mechanization through water and steam power) to the mass production and assembly lines using electricity in the second, the fourth industrial revolution will take what was started in the third with the adoption of computers and automation and enhance it with smart and autonomous systems, fueled by data and machine learning,” describes Forbes contributor Bernard Marr.
When it comes to cannabis, there is still a lot to be done to adopt this fourth revolution. As Tahira Rehmatullah, one of the top 5 women in cannabis according to Fortune, put it at the last Collision conference in Toronto: “We’re seeing cannabis 2.0 right now. There’s still 3.0, 4.0, all the .0’s to come.”
In today’s “smart” greenhouses, every device is connected to the Internet with its own Internet Protocol (IP) address, that allows it to be controlled at a distance in a fast and effective way. This is what is referred to as IoT: Internet of Things. The Master Grower controls the greenhouse according to his or her own experience and known recipes. This already represents a huge step forward because large spaces can be controlled, and different conditions can be ensured for each species by room, zone and stage in the growing process.
However, even those that are the furthest along the road to 4.0 with these smart greenhouses still have one more step to take: leveraging the data and machine learning.
In our next blog, we’ll talk more about how Big Data and machine learning can be used to help improve crop management.