Space engineers promoting Mars exploration and legal weed farmers have recently teamed up to create ultimate conditions for growing cannabis plants. Called “environmentally modified organisms,” the (EMO) system works by manipulating the six top external factors that affect growth in plants: water, temperature, humidity, light, carbon dioxide and nutrients.
The collaboration started when Mike Dixon, director of Guelph’s Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility, hit a roadblock while working on various projects related to supporting life on Mars. His work focused on the sustainability aspects of the lengthy mission, which includes creating a reliable crop cultivation process that ensures consistent and stable yields.
But because funding for such ventures is scarce (during an interview with Motherboard, Dixon pointed out that no one is currently interested in funding long-term research for an experimental trip to the Red Planet), the researcher was forced to turn to a booming sector with heaps of investors, and goals that can help advance research in the nascent field of EMO.
EMO and Cannabis
The sector that Dixon was referring to is the legal weed space. The researcher is working closely with botanists from ABcann, an Ontario-based medical marijuana producer, to hone and refine the EMO process. Before legalization, cannabis was grown illegally in closets or far-flung growing houses. Most rogue cultivators were interested in developing the potent characteristics of their plants by boosting THC levels. The process was very effective, but also inconsistent. That didn’t matter because the underground marijuana market was not subject to tight regulations.
But with cannabis legalization on the rise, many officials are calling for standardization. Patients want to know exactly how much THC or CBD they’re consuming to avoid over medication. This has led to major crackdowns on cannabis product labels from leading marijuana research firms, like Steep Hill Labs.
“Not long ago, a large percentage of the cannabis being provided to patients had gone without any quality assurance measures or potency testing. Needless to say, the industry didn’t have the same access to knowledge and technology like the present day market,” said Sasha Galuteria from Medical Jane.
Now businesses must closely adhere to proper labeling practices, which ultimately starts with cultivation. By controlling the six most influential components that cannabis plants need for optimal growth, individuals can ensure accurate cannabinoid levels, making the labeling process easier to manage.
Furthermore, growing weed using EMO methods may also result in consistent flower yields. This can help businesses streamline seed-to-sale projections and reports. Before reaping the benefits that EMO techniques have to offer, Dixon believes that cannabis growers have to first embrace traditional scientific methods for harvesting and extracting data- processes that most cultivators with DIY cannabis-growing backgrounds are not familiar with.
“Before now, cannabis has necessarily been in the back room,” said Dixon. “It’s never been subjected to controlled scientific experiments.”