As one of the largest organic hemp farms in the U.S., Integrated CBD (ICBD) is tapping into emerging technologies to advance its mission of sustainably growing hemp. The Arizona-based company has installed Phytech’s plant-based sensor technology to cultivate responsible water use across its approximately 10,000-acre industrial hemp farm.
“Hemp is no longer a small greenhouse operation; rather, it’s an estimated $24 billion market that demands consistent, sustainable industry standards in cultivation, distillation, and manufacturing,” says Jeff Dreyer, COO, Integrated CBD. “As water becomes an increasingly rare and expensive resource worldwide, we’re proud to integrate agriculture technology connected to water conservation to create trusted quality products at scale. Generally, it takes years until a farm operates efficiently. Phytech’s plant-based irrigation management platform will optimize ICBD’s water usage and create a more efficient and profitable farm with more rapid returns.”
Placed at the base of the crop’s stalk, the sensor measures and analyzes plant health data. This includes water availability and stress levels – two key elements that determine how efficiently the plant uses water. Through machine-learning algorithms, the platform identifies the optimal times to activate subsurface drip irrigation. Information is relayed through the Phytech app to deliver real-time plant status push notifications and plant AI-based irrigation demands. This will help Integrated CBD growers optimize yields by reducing overwatering and stress events that may lead to increased THC levels (>0.3%), which could result in a total loss of crop.
“Ensuring optimized crop quality and productivity by utilizing plant-based irrigation practices are necessary for producers. It is also the most sustainable way,” says Oren Kind, Phytech chief commercial officer and U.S. general manager.
Believed to be an ideal candidate for organic farming, hemp already requires significantly less water than other crops. In addition, it improves the quality of soil it grows in compared with other plants that strip the land of vital nutrients. Because it can absorb large amounts of CO2 during growth, which makes it carbon negative from the onset, experts believe the plant holds great potential for combatting climate change in the cultivation process alone.