Not to beat a dead horse. Sorry Trigger. But I have to whole heartily disagree.
Cannabis unlike tomatoes require control of not just ideal environmental and plant inputs but various stressors to produce the desired profiles and bio-active compounds yields.
With thousands and now tens of thousands plant to ride herd on automation is a must. Paul Selena , chief scientist at Village Farms, (260 acres of greenhouses) has been my mentor for several years and has been striving for more and more automation in a market that provides very slim margins. Village Farms has hooked up with Emerald and is bringing 5 acres of cannabis online in Canada. He says conventional methods of water content measure doesn’t cut it with cannabis.
My point is no human can perceive plant responses in time to correct for them.
While I don’t recommend letting the robots and AI take the reins. I have been studying closely, for last 12 years, the efforts at Rutgers, Cornell, Arizona and other leading controlled environment research centers and found the controls are still rudimentary. There focus is still focused on traditional plans. Advances in high throughput pheonotyping is still focused on plants (ie. corn) in an attempt to avoid or re-mediate environmental stresses like drought, not to optimize these stresses for bio-active compound production (with the exception of premium wine grapes).
It is because there are so many variables that need to be managed that AI software is very much needed. I have taught NASA’s Valkery humanoid robot to walk, “see” and push buttons to open doors, etc. It would be very challenging for a human to control the robot in realtime to do these tasks. This is true with cannabis.
For instance cnnabis reaches it optimal growth at high temperature ranges, it sweats (transpires) profusely and a some point will close its stomata to stop losing water to the atmosphere. Noting heat stress in the plant a grow might dim the lights turn down the temperature. When the proper thing might be to reduce the nutrient concentration relative to the transpiration rate increase the CO2 . I go mater grower will take this approach but he has no idea exactly what the ideal concentration of nutrients should be as this is changing quickly nor exactly how much CO2 to pump in. Also, plants in a more stagnant air area need different inputs. My goal is to monitor each and every plant responding to each plants needs.
With a $1100 per plant cost for moisture sensors few growers can afford to do this. At $20 per plant it make sense.
Believe you are sign to the choir as the install base of “master grower” would hardily agree with you, but the industry will move past the current paradigm. Companies like Med Men with 8 grows and $100 million in walking around money went outside the industry and recruties Grower from EuroFresh the largest greenhouse tomato grower in North America.
Take a look at the automation that Hoewling tomatoes employees. From my view point even that is so yesterday tech.
I working towards where the industry will be in five or tens years not were it is today.
Thanks for indulging my mad scientistish rant.
Anyone need lser bud trimmer? https://drive.google.com/open?id=1iogGklTTyPJkxZ2Gz5JbkwIdWPUVJE7b
This prototype uses a $100 6 watt blue laser. With a $2K 20 watt surgical laser I can trim a 6 inch bud in a few seconds. And no it doesn’t catch fire in vaporises the leaf.