Applying Traditional Agricultural Technology to Cannabis – A Projection
Cannabis in the US is experiencing a Renaissance. States, one-by-one are coming online and legalizing cannabis both for adult use and medicinal use. Research shows that marijuana as a whole is not only the fastest-growing industry in the United States, but this business’ statistical rate of growth is unparalleled in US history. It is believed that marijuana is well within four to 11 years away from becoming a standard US crop.
To achieve this success, cannabis companies need not “reinvent the wheel.” Instead they must apply and adapt lessons learned from the proven-successful traditional methods of farming to remain viable in the face of diminishing product values. One of the major areas of cannabis cultivation still largely nascent out is traditional outdoor cultivation. By applying traditional agricultural technologies to the current outdoor cannabis cultivation process, crop yields are predicted to increase while keeping expenditure costs at an exceptional minimum.
Some of the richest ecological environments in the world, tend to be those that are the least disturbed or most pristine. The method of no-till gardening is the most reminiscent of this natural occurrence, building on the philosophy that these natural soils are the foundation for creating a thriving biology within the soil, a process which is compromised when soil is disturbed. No-till gardening is both organic and sustainable, while also offering a safe and efficient way of cultivating cannabis without the need for harsh, harmful chemicals and wasted energy. Fungi, bacteria, nematodes, mites, worms, and other insects all encompass the web of life that can exist in a (nearly) natural, untilled, organic soil medium. Many of these lifeforms create a more bioavailable soil for nutrients, while also actively controlling harmful invasive pest populations, such as spider mites and fungus gnats, through naturally occurring systems. By further studying and practicing natural agricultural methods such as no-till gardening, large capacity, and more, outdoor monocrop cannabis gardening will flourish.
Tissue culture is a collection of techniques used to maintain and/or grow cells, tissues or organs under sterile conditions on a nutrient culture medium, i.e. artificial plant replication. Micropropagation was introduced by the German scientist Haberlandt as early as 1902 and developed upon extensively over the decades. Between the 1940s and 1960s, the development and improvement of ideas in its use led to the application of tissue culture in five main areas: cell behavior, plant modification and improvement, pathogen free plants and germplasm storage, clonal propagation, and product formation. The general technological advances of the 1990s brought even further expansion of in-vitro technologies to a fast growing number of plant species. These advances aid in the ability to produce greater amounts of cannabis product by allowing cultivators to grow more plants per season per year. By delving further into established methods and knowledge of strain specifics, cannabis crop yields will only continue to grow in the future.
With the ability to grow and regrow a multitude of strains at a much faster rate also comes the ability to focus on all of the compounds that cannabis has to offer. CBD extraction has exploded as a practice over the last few decades. Like micropropagation, CBD extraction made huge strides between the 1940s and 1960s, leading to the first cannabis tincture released for medicinal purposes by the British Pharmacopoeia in the mid 1970s. As more individual states continued to legalize medical cannabis, the United States government, in 2001, patented CBD as a neuroprotectant. With new technologies advancing extraction methods (such as CO2 supercritical extraction, Rosin presses, and solvent-based methods), the CBD market alone is estimated to grow to incredible new heights: close to a $2.1 billion market by 2020 which is about a 700% increase from 2016.
Cannabis as a business is expanding, and it’s doing so at record-breaking speed. The industry as a whole is projected to grow into a $20.6 billion business by 2020. It’s beyond evident that companies looking to delve into this industry needn’t look outside of the popular farming, cultivation, or extraction methods already established. All it takes is the will to adapt today’s modern technologies to traditional methods.
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About the Author
Tor Hammer was born in 1983, and raised in Harlem, New York. He graduated from Penn State University with a B.S in Business Science. He is the Co-Founder of Equas Corp. a bespoke cultivation operation serving the extraction market segment. Equas Corp. boasts an 81k+ sq ft greenhouse canopy located within the Coachillin campus in Desert Hot Springs California.