CANADA: Deep within a cedar forest in British Columbia, Dan Sutton is building what he hopes will be the most energy-efficient, high-technology greenhouse for growing cannabis. Spurred by the booming market for medical marijuana, he and a group of biologists and engineers have experimented for almost three years with digital sensors, lighting arrays, software programs and ventilators to design a greenhouse system with the lowest energy costs and highest crop yields.
“We said, ‘Let’s assume everything that’s ever been done in cannabis cultivation is wrong, and we have to build from the ground up,’” said Sutton, the 28-year-old managing director of Tantalus Labs in Vancouver. “We have this broad realm of science that no one has been able to previously explore.”
The startup is among a growing number of companies in North America designing new products and systems specifically for the cultivation of cannabis, a finicky crop that needs a precise balance of light, moisture and water to thrive. Although these cannabis ventures aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel — greenhouse technologies have existed for decades — they are injecting the kinds of capital and brainpower into the field of industrial agriculture that simply wasn’t there a decade ago.