This article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of Cannabis Business Times. To subscribe, click here.
Unlike in other industries, the cannabis industry—in general—is a little behind the tracking times. (See below for more on that.) But as the industry matures, cultivators are more often embracing data collection and find that it has some big business benefits. With that in mind, Cannabis Business Times spoke with four cultivators to find out the best data-tracking lessons they’ve learned—and to get their top tips for others who want to start collecting or better managing their data.
1. Scott Hunter, Manager, and Ira Gingrich, Master Grower, Aeriz
Biggest Data Lesson: Continuous data monitoring produces the best plants.
At Aeriz, cannabis plants are grown aeroponically. “Every grow table that we have has its own water and nutrient tank,” says Scott Hunter, manager of Aeriz in Arizona, Ill. Each table—which has anywhere from 12 to 24 plants—also has its own computer-monitoring system that records everything from the time the plants were last fed to the water temperature. Those pieces of data are recorded hourly, says Ira Gingrich, master grower at Aeriz’s Illinois facility, “which allows us to isolate, improve, replicate or prevent [things] as each table of plants is monitored in multiple verticals of methods.” Data recorded that often—and that extensively—has a big benefit, Hunter says: With a bevy of near-constant data, “we’re able to quickly isolate our mistakes and success.”
Gingrich adds that “continuous monitoring of temperature, humidity, nutrient levels, leaf color and root color provides us with an opportunity to make changes to the aeroponics system as necessary.” What’s more, by producing cannabis aeroponically, the plants respond to those changes quickly. So, “when we detect signs of distress [in the plants], we can make the adjustments necessary to produce healthy plants” before too much damage is done, he explains. “Strong, healthy plants always require a little TLC,” Gingrich adds, “which gives us the opportunity to identify small problems [with data] before they become larger.”
Data-Tracking Tip: Don’t discount an old-fashioned visual inspection of plants.
Even though Aeriz’s computer-monitoring system collects plenty of data on each table of plants, Gingrich and his team still collect data in what he’s dubbed the “old-fashioned way,” which is by visual inspection. “Spending time observing the plants and their condition remains a reliable data-collection method to this day,” Gingrich says, adding that “working with the plants has been our best method to detect problems.” He recommends other cultivators do the same.
To read the full article in Cannabis Business Times' February 2018 issue, click here.
Top photo courtesy of AlpinStash