The cannabis industry is a living, breathing experiment in innovation. From innovating the types of cannabis plants that are grown to the types of technologies, soils, and other materials needed to grow the plants, innovation is everywhere in cannabis. But, as we innovate on the production, sale and consumption sides of cannabis, global warming both threatens and creates opportunities for innovation.
If the time is now to cash in on the ‘green rush,’ it is also the time to go green and think about how every decision we make in our new cannabis businesses can be made in a way that is respectful to our fragile planet. Fortunately for the industry as a whole, several businesses are emerging as leaders in sustainable agriculture and responsible business practices aimed to reduce waste and water consumption. Trella Technologies, creators of a horizontal plant growing technology that will revolutionize indoor farming, is one of those companies. And, it is run by a woman who has studied and been on the ground in response to natural disasters.
With a background in natural catastrophe risk engineering, Trella Technologies cofounder and CEO Aja N. Atwood studied for more than 15 years how to minimize damage from natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes and floods, before transferring her skills to Trella and the cannabis industry. For her, the effects of climate change are obvious and worsening, and something that Team Trella takes quite seriously when working in the lab or brainstorming on new solutions.
“As people are starting to get into the cannabis industry and are relying on agriculture to be their medicine or sustain their business, it’s important that they understand that the effects of climate change will affect your crop,” warns Aja. “We can argue about why there’s climate change and what’s causing it… but you can’t deny that it is occurring and we have to be on top of it, especially if we want a sustainable way to feed and heal ourselves.”
Recently, Aja explains, rainfall intensity has been higher than ever. In June 2019, specifically, the precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 0.37 inch above average at 3.30 inches, breaking a 125-year record. Flooding and excess water create soil problems, standing water and mold, which can wreak havoc on a garden of any kind.
“When we saturate the earth with too much water, or you overwater your plants, you’re flushing out all the oxygen and replacing it with water,” Aja explains. “Now, your roots are suffocating and not able to absorb nutrients.”
So, what is a cannabis cultivator to do to protect their crops as the threat of natural disaster strengthens? A backup generator is only part of the solution.
“One of the things people don’t understand about natural disasters is that you can get a backup generator for a few days, but when catastrophe strikes, first responders are going to evacuate you,” she says. “If things are that bad you may not be able to get back into your grow facility for weeks, so you need to have backup plans, and this is where automated solutions like the TrellaGro LST can help.”
Planning for natural catastrophes also involves addressing the impacts on investors, vendors and, most importantly, the patient or other consumers. As in all cases of supply and demand, when demand is high but supply has been reduced, prices will go up. For medical marijuana patients or others on a fixed budget, this can spell even more disaster.
Aja also points to the 2017 experiences of a Canadian cannabis company, Hexo Corp, which faced a 4% drop in its stock price after a flood scare near its Quebec production facility. With record flooding of the Ottawa River, and despite Hexo insisting that its facility was safe from flooding, stockholders were spooked.
Aja encourages cannabis farmers and processors, regardless of what or where they’re located, to think critically about their supply chain and have a geographically diverse backup plan in anticipation of the very real threat of natural catastrophe.
“With mother nature, we don’t know what she can do,” warns Aja. “But we can prepare with thoughtful backup planning and introducing automation for the times when we may be evacuated or otherwise separated physically from the business.”
Aja explains more about the threats that climate change presents to the cannabis and farming industries in Episode 2 of Trella’s web series, Let’s Just Talk. Click here to watch the full video, and then head over to https://www.startengine.com/trella to learn more about Aja N. Atwood, Team Trella, and the automated TrellaGro LST™.