You can essentially build a system which suits your individual needs, whatever your preferences may be.
With the ever-expanding shift towards legal growing, it’s no surprise that people are looking for more efficient ways of managing their process of cultivation. For those in the know, there are a huge number of variables which have to be taken into account if you are to achieve consistently strong yields of high quality plants, but is there a way that you can make it more manageable? We caught up with some of the people from Phyllo to find out how they can help bring your grows into the 21st Century.
WW: Hi, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. So, can you just start off by telling us about Phyllo?
Phyllo: Of course. Phyllo is a collaboration of people from the commercial cannabis industry, with over 50 years of experience within this field, combined with leading experts in artificial intelligence and technological innovation industry. We have been investigating ways of utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to assist in the management of farming set-ups and a diverse range of methods for the cannabis industry and the wider world of crop cultivation. With the combined knowledge of its team, Phyllo has developed the next generation AI platform that manages security, environmental knowledge, human movement and crop management by utilizing lidar technology.
WW: Lidar technology? Can you explain what that is?
Phyllo: It stands for Light Detection and Ranging and it’s a remote sensing technology that has been used since the sixties. It was more widely known for its use on the Apollo 11 mission in 1971, where it was used to map the moon, but it can be utilized in a wide range of situations. In the past it has been successfully used in archaeology, agriculture, surveying/mapping, physics, and astronomy and, more recently, lidar sensors can be found in autonomous automobiles where it works to help map out the surroundings of the vehicle. It uses the pulse from a laser to collect measurements of a specified area, which can then be used to create 3D models and maps of both objects and environments. The process is harmless and non-invasive and a very effective method of monitoring an area.
WW: Sounds impressive. So how does it actually work?
Phyllo: The easiest way to look at it is to say that it is similar to sonar or radar. The laser sends out a signal in the form of a light beam and then it measures the time it takes for the laser to reflect back into the sensor. Instead of sending out a single laser, lidar is capable of emitting a million pulses per second which can scan a wide area for what is termed ‘low resolution mapping’ or can be clustered and focused for precision levels of focus. When used as a precision tool, it can achieve 99.9% accuracy in areas such as facial recognition. Whichever method you use, the 3D data is calculated by a computer into what is known as ‘point cloud’. The computer can then analyze the scan for anomalies such as surface degradation, land contour changes and levels of vegetation growth. It’s a very powerful tool which has a huge level of potential.
WW: How does this translate to your work within the cannabis industry and how can people make use of this technology by working with Phyllo?
Phyllo: Well, we have developed the use of lidar in conjunction with AI in order to create a system which can monitor plants in an area and assist in their care. Phyllo’s systems constantly analyze each crop’s daily growth and use the machine learning from the database, which stores the history of each previous scan. Each scan is compared to a previous one and analyzed by the computer to see if there are any discrepancies which need to be addressed or investigated further. This will then prompt horticulturalists/farm hands to tend to the given need of the plant by spotting diseases within hours rather than days, therefore potentially saving whole crops from infections. In addition to this, the system allows for areas to be monitored in terms of the movement of people as they are registered on the scans – this means that any personnel will show up and can be tracked as they move around the site, but it also means that any unauthorized personnel will show up and an alert can be raised.
WW: I see. So it can track the development of the plants and also keep an eye on the workers?
Phyllo: In essence, yes, but it’s more about ensuring that people are directed to the right locations and ensuring maximum workflow through increasing efficiency of deployment. The system has a number of features which can benefit anybody who is running a grow or other type of set-up which can make the most of this type of monitoring and analysis.
WW: What else can it do?
Phyllo: Our AI-driven plant cultivation management systems use emergent technologies in the form of the scanners and the data analysis programs which can be used in a range of ways. We tend to focus on the idea of maximizing profit by driving down excess costs over time using the monitoring across all stages of cultivation to increase efficiency of all the key processes. If people want to tailor the system to specific needs, there is also the option to refine or expand the system through the introduction of different types of sensor which the system can respond to. These include sensors for air flow, water flow, nutrient levels, humidity, growth rate and animal identification and movement tracking. As we mentioned before, you can also track human movement but there is also the potential to install parts of the system for fire prevention and other safety mechanisms. You can essentially build a system which suits your individual needs, whatever your preferences may be.
WW: It’s good that it can be revised to fit different types of grow. What kind of response have you had from customers?
Phyllo: People have reported that having a fully monitored grow allows them to consider the impact that a particular environmental factor can have on particular strains and the data gives them greater insight into how these factors can change. Most of the feedback has expressed that the ability to make smart interventions has the biggest impact on the cultivation process. One example is that a farm with 70 employees realized that they could reduce their workforce by 25% once they had better insight into the requirements of the plants and the work rate of their farmhands. The AI is able to keep an eye on everyone at once and will monitor the watering levels and guide people towards areas of potential pest issues more quickly. Through the use of facial recognition technology, farms have increased their security procedures and maximized profitability through minimizing the potential losses through theft (it also can keep an eye on those employees who might be a little more work shy and perhaps might sneak off for a smoke break or a nap whilst on their shift).
WW: You have mentioned that the data is fed back into the system regularly. Why is this so important to you?
Phyllo: We believe that greenhouses and crops need to be monitored 24/7, but the live data feeds can free up the people who are overseeing these processes so that they can attend to other matters without worrying about things going wrong in their absence. The cost of a crop (and therefore its level of profitability) is evaluated by taking the cost of human labor and adding it to the amount of energy utilized in producing one kilogram of product. Our platform takes into account a wide range of factors to decrease labor costs by identifying the optimum conditions which need to be established for maximum energy saving potential. On an on-going basis, our customers can capture and analyze information relating to lighting, heating, temperature, humidity, energy consumption, air flow and water flow so that these variables can be better controlled. What makes the data even more valuable is that everything is fed back into the platform and as more data is gathered the quality of the AI improves exponentially. It is a learning system and each grow which is completed using it makes it more powerful and knowledgeable. Our goal is to provide scientists and business owners access to next generation insights which can help them to achieve exceptional results.
WW: How do people get access to this technology?
Phyllo: Currently, we are seeking pilot grows and industry partners to trial our proprietary AI GreenHouse using lidar technology. We want to partner with leading industry experts and scientists so that we can work together to train the platform to manage crops to the highest levels. The system will soon be able to prevent catastrophic crop failure, increase crop security, assist in crop modeling for future grows, promote targeted scouting and identify any other issues with crops. If people are interested in finding out more they can get in touch and we can organize for site analysis to be conducted so that we can plan a layout of equipment and see what needs to be installed to ensure that everything works to maximum capacity. We are also looking to license local installers and franchise our business model to anyone who thinks that they would like to work with us.
WW: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. We wish you all the best for the future.
Phyllo: No problem. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to talk about what we do.
Contact [email protected] to get involved
Photography by KYLE HENRY AT DERP FARMS, ARIZONA
Originally published in Weed World Magazine issue 138