NJ Advance Media reports on “an Israeli and Maryland-based startup that claims to be able to quadruple the yield of traditional cannabis grows” – using indoor, climate-controlled 40-inch-tall “grow fridges” that are tended by robots. You see, despite the old cliche of “growing like a weed,” cannabis has actually been something of a high-maintenance slacker when it comes to its cultivation… In shade, it provides far less seed and pollen. It’s not tolerant of the cold, and does not reproduce well in drought. It’s also very susceptible to fungal infections, so too much water leaves it vulnerable to pathogens… For years, the high price fetched by traditionally farmed cannabis and low cost of human labor conspired to make robotic farming uneconomical.
What else is inside the Seedo container besides the plants, gro-bots and soil? Nothing – which is kind of the whole point: Seedo uses a patented, beyond-surgical grade filtration system that ionizes the air, making it deadly to bacteria, viruses and mold… At $150,000 per Seedo container, the costs to achieve this are high, but cutting the usual 10 percent to 20 percent loss to disease of a traditionally farmed cannabis crop to disease to less than 5 percent, they rapidly become economical… A traditionally-farmed 1,000 square meter grow operation produces 600 kilograms of cannabis per year. But Levy says 16 Seedo containers (along with a Seedo robot to tend them) can fit into that same space, producing 2.4 tons of dry bud [2,177 kilograms] . And because they can be stacked 5 high, the same robotically farmed footprint can generate up to 12 tons [10,886 kilograms] of dry bud cannabis. “You can make a return on investment very fast,” said Levy, whose backers now include include Daniel Birnbaum, the CEO of SodaStream International, acquired by Pepsi late last year for $3.2 billion.
“Think of Seedo as the first driverless car for hydroponic growing,” explains their web site, noting that their gro-bots control each container’s temperature, humidity, lighting, pH sensors, and automated CO2-release systems, with internal cameras offering HD-live streaming to their iOS/Android app.
Seedo is now “in negotiations” to export its containers to California and Nevada, according to the article, and also in New Jersey – assuming New Jersey’s state legislature votes to legalize it first.