With the cannabis industry growing in Illinois and across the country, Southern Illinois University Carbondale next month will bring together experts on creating large- to small-scale growing operations using emerging technologies.
“Controlled Environment Agriculture: From Home-Grown to Facilities” is set for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, September 9, at the SIU Student Center Auditorium. It is open to all interested in growing and processing cannabis.
The symposium is the fourth such gathering hosted by SIU’s Cannabis Science Center, which includes personnel from various agricultural specializations aimed at utilizing the plant since its legalization in Illinois and other states. Previous conferences have included presentations by researchers, producers, exhibitors, vendors, students, and community members.
The 2023 event will include experts providing information on Illinois cannabis cultivation law, plant propagation, genetics, and optimizing growing conditions. Sessions on alternative production techniques, quality testing, and end uses are also on the agenda, as well as exhibits and research presentations by SIU students.
Jose Leme, assistant professor of cannabis biology and cultivation systems, will give one of the first presentations at the event focused on controlled environmental agriculture technology. The approach uses cutting-edge technologies and innovations to boost efficiency and sustainability in grow operations.
Leme said while controlled environment agriculture is gaining more attention for increasing the food supply, it also is an important management system for cannabis production on both small and large scales.
“So, we intend to increase our interaction on this topic at the academic, private sector, and domestic levels,” Leme said.
Leme said the event will help participants gain a comprehensive understanding of cutting-edge cultivation techniques and technologies tailored for cannabis production.
“They will learn best practices for optimizing growth conditions, ensuring product quality and consistency, and navigating regulatory challenges,” he said. “Experts, networking opportunities, and innovations will enhance their cannabis cultivation skills, help them implement sustainable resource-efficient practices, and keep them at the forefront of this rapidly evolving industry.”
The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. with opening remarks from former center director Dale B. “Buck” Hales, who recently retired from SIU, as well as incoming director Gary Kinsel, professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Sciences.
Other SIU-connected speakers for the day include graduate Benjamin Grant, a cannabis agronomist and consultant now working in California; Aldwin Anterola, associate professor of plant biology; and Joshua Bucheitt, a double SIU graduate in agribusiness economics and home-grower currently working for a local grow operation.
Details on the rest of the day’s program and speakers, including other professionals and policymakers, and registration can be found on the symposium webpage. Registration is required, with a $85 fee in advance for the general public and a $20 fee for students. Same-day tickets can be purchased for $95.