Algae tech helps cannabis companies scale up

Local company Pond Technologies Holdings Inc. is introducing its new subsidiary, PaiGE Growth Technologies Inc. PaiGE takes Pond’s already established algae growing technology and applies it to cultivation of cannabis, to help owners scale up their businesses for the consumer market.

PaiGE, also based in Markham, stands for The Plant Adaptive Intelligence Growth Engine.

“Pond’s technology is all about growing photosynthetic organisms quickly,” explains marketing manager Phil Garber. “We learned how to grow algae quickly using powerful lighting, proprietary sensors, data and algorithms. Suddenly, the cannabis industry was legalized and companies were challenged to grow crops at scale quickly and in a controlled manner – basically under similar conditions to what we were already doing with algae.”

“There are supply shortages in the cannabis industry,” says Garber. “Retailers are running out of stock and a lot of cannabis companies are not driving a profit. They are struggling because they expanded so quickly and need to get their costs under control.”

Applying algae technology to cannabis

For algae, Pond developed a unit with over 30 sensors that can scan down to the individual plant level, read chlorophyll levels and visual information, and explain how the plant looks and functions at various stages of its life cycle. With this information, they were able to build a database of information about algae and an algorithm to predict how it responds under different circumstances. This helps Pond predict what adjustments in greenhouse conditions need to be made. Now PaiGE is doing the same for cannabis.

Consider for example if you have 10,000 plants in your building. The ones near the outside might be exposed to more sun and cold and may suddenly grow differently than the ones in the middle. There may also be mould or other issues to contend with.

“With existing technology, there are many vendors who say they can solve these issues, but they have to do it at the green house scale or subsections of the green house,” says Garber. “At that scale, if you for example turn down the lights, you have to turn up the heating system but it is all a manual guessing game.”

“In comparison, PaiGE takes readings from individual plants, and integrates data streams from other inputs like temperature sensors, the amount of sunlight coming in, etc. They all go into the PaiGE brain, the MasterGrower based off our existing algorithm.”

The idea is to integrate data streams, map out micro-climates, and enable clients to achieve consistent growth. PaiGE is well positioned to help cultivators make the most of their businesses in this new and exciting field.

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