In this Grower’s Spotlight, Hunter Wilson of Growers Network spoke with the CEO of Motorleaf, Alastair Monk, about what his company is doing and their vision for Artificial Intelligence in the Cannabis space.
How does Motorleaf differ from its competitors?
There are a variety of different companies looking to improve efficiency within greenhouses: lighting companies, substrate providers, farm management software, etc.
We are unique because we’re focused on figuring out how you should grow your crops instead of minor efficiency gains. This is a complicated problem that requires the help of a virtual agronomist that can make calculations and predictions that a human brain simply couldn’t.
One of the biggest accomplishments we had was when we realized that we had exceeded all of our expectations when it came to yield prediction. We were extremely close in our predictions, weeks in advance. This is important not only because we get a number close to the actual yield weeks in advance, it means that we understand why it is that yield.
What are the top three problems you are solving at Motorleaf?
- We are democratising crop production expertise, via an intelligent, AI-powered platform to learn the best methods for a return on investment.
- We bridge the gap for equipment and service providers who can’t see how their products and services are actually effecting change in the grow space.
- We are moving away from static “recipes” for strain-specific crop production and are delivering dynamic growing protocols tailored to your unique conditions.
Implementing Artificial Intelligence
How does Motorleaf collect and analyze the data it uses?
We collect data via third party environmental controls, our own hardware, IP cameras, and by tapping into customers existing data (which may be available via an API or something as simple as crunching spreadsheets they have used).
Data analysis is primarily algorithm-based, but before that happens we have data scientists review the data that they present to the algorithm, just to make sure it’s valid.
How is the equipment installed?
We’ve designed our solution to be relatively simple and easy to implement, and we rarely need to visit a customer to install. However, we still like to visit clients locations to get a better feel for what they are doing. For software integration, we’ll sometimes conduct a remote desktop meeting.
The Market for AI
Where is your ideal target market located? Starting out global or local?
We sell directly to North American customers for the most part. We have customers in approximately eight other countries, but these are mostly to test how a variety of things work and investigate how we can scale in those locations.
How do you plan on getting your product in the hands of your customers?
For the most part we deliver our products via direct sales and we have some resellers in Europe for our greenhouse yield prediction and grow journal products.
Why should customers purchase your products over the competition?
In some cases they shouldn’t. Ideally, they’ll reach out to us and explain what they really want to accomplish and by what date. In some cases, customers buy from us and other service providers that may have some crossover with us, with their data flowing between the two entities.
How do you plan on measuring the success of your product(s) in the market?
We have key performance indicators (KPIs) that look at how the products are being used (or not being used) as well as more traditional feedback directly from our clients.
Where do you envision the Canadian cannabis industry to be in the future?
My opinions here certainly do not represent all of our team members or our investors, but there are a few things that seem likely to happen:
- The sun is essentially ‘free energy,’ so preexisting commercial greenhouse infrastructure will continue to be retrofitted to accommodate Cannabis until supply outstrips demand.
- Supplemental lighting will help increase production and quality control, but will only reach its full potential when it is paired with a machine learning intelligence (or AI) to help remove the guesswork. Similarly, because revenue per kilogram will drop over time, each facility will need to become more reliant upon machine learning to keep their margins healthy.
- Cannabis production will become a race to the bottom in terms of what producers can charge for their product.
- Large “traditional” corporations will swallow up the biggest and best producers, adding their own expertise in work flow and distribution.
- Smoking flower will stigmatized like smoking tobacco. Adding THC/CBD into ‘socially acceptable’ activities like drinking/food consumption will likely overtake smoking.
- Heavy metals found in crops will become more understood, and regulations will have to become more stringent.
With consumption becoming more accessible, I think the correlation between mental health concerns in people 18 and under will turn a corner. Speaking from personal experience with my own family, there is a very cavalier attitude surrounding ‘harmless weed’ and underage consumption. As much as I hate to sound like a killjoy, listening to our mental health professionals and medical experts is just as important as listening to those who tell us Cannabis is the new gold rush. If we don’t listen, we’re all culpable if things take a turn for the worse on a large scale.
This article has been paraphrased with permission from Growers Network.
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