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CULTIVATION

Technology’s Integral Role in the Shift to Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation in Canada By Jay Evans, CEO and Founder, Keirton

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he Canadian federal legalization of cannabis in 2018 saw an explosion of largescale, commercial cultivation facilities around the country. These facilities, leveraging optimized and advanced technology alongside new opportunities for automation and quality-assurance practices, were able to quickly maximize their harvests and increase the consistency of yields. Over the last six months, alone we’ve seen how impactful adaptable engineering technologies and equipment have been in supporting the industry and its operators through the pandemic and the heightened safety measures that were implemented. Canada is now seeing producers moving towards the outdoors. While there’s been no direct link between this movement and the indoor restrictions felt by operators through the pandemic, as of March of this year, licence holders had dedicated more than 2.7 million square metres of land to outdoor growing (versus 1.9 million square metres for indoor cultivation), and those authorized for outdoor cultivation nearly doubled in the same time frame. The cost savings of outdoor cultivation are undeniably advantageous, but it’s not without its challenges. Technology solutions and automation will be imperative in addressing the primary hurdles the industry faces, including safety, costs and standardizing quality despite, or in spite of, unpredictable obstacles and environments like extreme snow and high winds, raging forest fires and increased air pollution. Automating to Enhance Consistency Regardless of an employee’s experience or training, manual labour runs the risk of producing inconsistent results. To make matters worse, Canada’s limited growing season coupled with its often poor growing climate — more on extreme weather conditions like cold temperatures, high winds, drought, and forest fires later — can result in inconsistent quality and yields. Maintaining a harvest outdoors is much more challenging than indoors because of the number of variables it introduces to the process. Technology will be required to ensure efficient operations that result in consistent yields. For instance, trimming outdoors is more challenging due to increased foliage, larger and stiffer leaves, stiffer and woodier stalks, and light, loose or airy flower. Trimming machines dramatically optimize the yield of otherwise challenging harvests. By automating the trimming process, producers can improve harvest times and product consistency. Innovative drying technology can now dry flower, traditionally difficult to dry and cure, in one day and lock in the terpenes. This allows for increased quality assurance and marks a dramatic improvement from the harshness of traditional dryers. Reducing Costs Through Technology Without the expensive, large-scale indoor commercial facilities and the extensive list of associated costs — including high electricity bills, specialized lighting and indoor equip-

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Cannabis Prospect Magazine | October 2020

Profile for Cannabis Prospect Magazine

Cannabis Prospect Magazine - Oct. '20 Issue - Issue #11  

Cannabis Prospect Magazine - Oct. '20 Issue - Issue #11  

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