Contributed to Green Entrepreneur by Larry Dodson, urban-gro’s Chief Technology Officer. Originally published on June 25, 2019.
Today, ‘big data’ is an indispensable tool to improve decision-making and drive better outcomes in almost all areas of business—from credit cards, to coffee chains, to cancer research, and beyond.
Big data is used to maximize growth and yields in every field you can imagine. And increasingly, serious cannabis cultivators—whose entire business is about maximizing growth and improving profits—are talking about “big data” as they do about CBD levels, temperature, and humidity.
TRADITIONAL GROWING METHODS FACE CHALLENGES AS THE INDUSTRY GROWS
The U.S. legal cannabis market was valued at $11.9 billion in 2018; globally the market is expected to be worth $66.3 billion by the end of 2025. New demands are driving innovation in cannabis cultivation, and new ways to leverage technology.
Traditional cultivation methods still work, of course—humans have been cultivating plants in soil since about 9500 BC or so. But the demands now are not what they were then. There are still cultivators “walking the room” a few times a day collecting information with their eyes and hands. Some rely on a single sensor pair that measures temperature and humidity, hanging in the middle of the room, and hoping that if the conditions in the center are good, the rest of the grow room will be close enough for a good end product. If they’re gifted growers, they may supplement their sensor with spot measurements by a hand-held device, rigorously logging the data and making updates to the room’s climate settings so that they may get acceptable yields.
Still, cultivators who resist technology risk being left behind as the industry advances.