There’s a new farmer in the cannabis industry — and it’s faster, smarter and sleeker, thanks to artificial intelligence.
From small-scale home systems that take the guesswork out of growing for beginners to commercial operations and predictive software, the technology has the ability to change how the world grows, sees and uses cannabis, from hemp and CBD to marijuana, along with the other crops we’re more accustomed to like cucumbers and tomatoes. But we aren’t jumping into the future just yet.
“Right now, it’s kind of an obscure topic,” said Nathaniel Morris, founder of William Bond Ai in Ontario, which uses AI to train machines to grow cannabis. “It’s not going to be obscure for long. [Cannabis] is going to be one of the first industries to be disrupted.”
Morris said AI imaging can find impurities in the plants, like mold, or a male plant that can impact the entire crop, better than the human eye, once trained to do so by an expert. The technology isn’t really new — but adapting it to fit the needs of cannabis growers is.
Morris uses the common agricultural robots from FarmBot, programming the devices to work specifically for cannabis. The technology is expensive, and often doesn’t make sense for many farmers growing like tomatoes or cucumbers. But with cannabis, which is legal and booming in Canada, the price point is just right, Morris told NJ Cannabis Insider.
Here in New Jersey, AI is playing little role in agriculture and robotics are scare, too, said Peter Furey, the executive director of the state Farm Bureau.
That’s due largely to prohibitive pricing and a steady supply of labor, said A.J. Both, an extension specialist in controlled-environment engineering with Rutger’s University’s New Jersey’s Agricultural Experimental Station.
“Eventually, it will come here, too,” Both said. “It’s a matter of time.”