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AI allows grower to scout cultivation for pathogens factoring human error out

"We are not just growers; we are scientists"

Medisun is one of the biggest Canadian cannabis producers. The company grows its cannabis in greenhouses covering 5 hectares. “The greenhouses utilize natural sunlight as well as active cooling and heating for lower costs. Heating is done with natural gas and CO2 exhaust is used as CO2 supplement for the plants,” Laust Dam, COO of Medisun, points out. “Our operation is perpetual, and we are constantly putting in new plants and harvesting others.” Medisun harvests around 200kg of cannabis each day. Getting these kind of results is extremely complicated, especially considering how susceptible the cannabis plant is to the slightest changes in the growing environment. Yet, there’s another element that is also particularly susceptible to the growing environment, looming as an inauspicious cloud over the heads of the growers: pests and pathogens.

A perpetual fight 
Joanna van Luttikhuizen is the IPM manager at Medisun. Her job is precisely to prevent any pest or pathogen from finding its way into the cultivation area. “The first and most effective way to prevent pathogens from reaching plants is to scout the entire cultivation,” she says. “This way, you can find the ‘hot spots' and take care of the infected plants before it spreads to the whole room.” At the same time, manually scouting every plant is a particularly time-consuming activity, and can be susceptible to mistakes. “The issue with manual scouting and reporting is that they can be fallible,” she continues. “When doing all of that manually, human error lingers and it might happen that a specific spot hasn’t been checked as thoroughly, igniting a grower’s worst fear chain reaction.”

Technology shows the way 
“At Medisun, we are innovation-driven,” Laust says. Following this lead, Laust participated in an agrifood accelerator event in Denmark, where he met with a young Israeli company as part of the due diligence procedures with one of Medisun’s investors. “That’s how I met Laust,” says Asaf Levy, CEO, and co-founder of MyCrops. MyCrops enables growers to check their cultivation for potential issues 24/7 thanks to its AI-powered cameras. “Medisun is not like other growers. Their team understands how to use technology and what to expect from that. That’s why when Laust saw our solution, he wanted to test it straight away in their cultivation.”

The MyCrops team

“We don’t want to be confronted with risky situations and hope we’d make it through. We have to test, to try, to get data, and use all of that to improve ourselves,” Laust says. It is exactly because of this that Medisun proceeded to install MyCrops’ cameras throughout the grow rooms, and Joanna noticed improvements immediately. “MyCrops is always up to date,” she says. “This way, I am constantly aware of what’s happening in the cultivation. This is particularly important when it comes to the IPM strategy, not only for a matter of reacting promptly but also for preventing in a timely manner. For instance, if the cameras catch an infected plant, we can go directly there and release our biologicals in the most efficient way imaginable. The MyCrops’ cameras can even see small aphid flies sitting on top of plants – something we can’t possibly do considering the sheer amount of plants we have. This is particularly precious because those are the mother aphids, and taking them out would mean stopping the infection from the actual get-go.”

Working closely with Medisun has allowed MyCrops to implement their feedback. “We have weekly meetings where we speak with the team to understand what’s good and what needs improvement,” Asaf remarks. “At the same time, Medisun is only using a part of our solution, as we have been collecting data, and continue doing that, so that our solution would not only spot the issues for growers but would also help them to make an informed decision on how to handle that.”

“MyCrops is simply allowing me to do my job correctly,” Joanna says. “And even though we don’t always use the specific advice that the app gives us, it definitely helps us to drive our decision-making process and helps me organize the next steps. We are not just growers; we are also scientists.”

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