Fluence announced the successful continuation of its partnership with Dutch organization Innexo BV, a specialty agricultural contract research organization that focuses on molecular farming and medicinal plants.
Fluence and Innexo’s research partnership is focused on assessing the viability of cultivating cannabis without a standard vegetative phase, a practice generally associated with lower energy use that passes savings directly to growers in Europe and around the globe. Preliminary data from Fluence and Innexo demonstrates the potential of the “no-veg” growing method to help growers save money while improving quality and consistency. The Fluence and Innexo teams intend to collaborate on a full-scale research project to validate these initial results.
“At Innexo, we use our deep knowledge of cannabis cultivars and best propagation practices to help growers create the most efficient cultivation strategies possible,” said Dominique van Gruisen, managing director of Innexo. “We naturally gravitate toward partners like Fluence, who can match our expertise and commitment to investing in innovative and impactful cannabis research.”
Most commercial cannabis cultivators use a vegetative phase to ensure proper plant growth to support flower weight and to gain a full and dense canopy. This phase can last anywhere between seven days and four weeks, requiring a significant investment of time, electrical energy, and resources. Initial findings from Fluence and Innexo demonstrate the potential of this method to maintain crop quality and yield while creating up to 55% savings on annual electrical costs directly associated with lighting.
When the plants would typically enter the vegetative phase, they were instead transplanted to the flowering room, where they immediately received their maximum light intensity. In this system, cannabis crops reach their final height—between 70 and 120 cm—around 28 days after transplant. Eliminating two weeks of the vegetative phase represents up to 252 hours of direct electricity savings per light per crop cycle. Additional savings are realized through lower HVAC costs and generally more efficient cultivation cycles. Initial research indicates that “no-veg” growing is most effective with plant densities between eight and 10 plants per m2. Thus far, research has tested the viability of “no-veg” growing across six cannabis cultivars, 10 different nutrient lines, and a wide range of light intensities.
“Proper lighting—which must include a strong combination of advanced fixtures and lighting strategy—plays a critical role in creating a more efficient and profitable methodology for cannabis cultivation,” said Dr. David Hawley, principal scientist at Fluence. “This research demonstrates the value of examining and investing in a research-backed lighting strategy from day one. Our goal is to explore, validate, and demonstrate the effectiveness of diverse cultivation strategies to ensure every grower can apply data-driven methodologies to their facilities in collaboration with Fluence.”
Fluence and Innexo’s research uncovered potential savings for growers who pursue growing without a vegetative phase, including an average of both 40% lower electrical costs and up to 40% lower labor costs per crop cycle. Because of the fast-paced growth of the plants, researchers found there was less time for pests and diseases to develop, leading to a healthier end product. In addition, this method could reduce waste by eliminating C-Grade flowers, which allows for more crop cycles per year and increases overall predictability for growers.
“At Fluence, we create value for growers throughout the world by investing in research that will expand the horizons of traditional cultivation,” said Sebastian Olschowski, research project manager for EMEA at Fluence. “As plant lighting specialists, we are proud to be part of this project to shape the future of cannabis research and transfer valuable knowledge to our customers and partners.”
Fluence and Innexo’s research collaboration, which began in 2022, has expanded to include collaborations in three of Innexo’s Acceleration Platform for Innovation (API) programs. API empowers innovative, small-scale companies adjacent to the cannabis industry to perform research in medical cannabis cultivation.