News & Research

Innovation at GreenSeal Cannabis Co.

GreenSeal • November 26, 2018

The people who learn the quickest are going to win

Every day, the team at GreenSeal Cannabis Co. is obsessed with the same burning question:

How can we take cannabis production to the next level?

The cannabis market is growing so quickly, most Licensed Producers complain they can’t spare the resources to invest in innovation. Instead they are relying on legacy growing methods, so they can focus 100% on increasing production to meet exploding demand.

Here at GreenSeal Cannabis Co., we believe this short-sightedness is creating the market’s biggest opportunity by focusing 100% on innovation today, our company will be positioned as the industry leader two or three years from now after competition commoditizes the market.

Innovation isn’t a department. It is at the heart of everything we do. It’s a process and philosophy that permeates the whole company.

We’re implementing the same innovation framework employed by companies like Apple and Disney. These companies continually raise the bar on their performance via a disciplined, structured approach to Research and Development (R&D) that combines Design Thinking with ‘experimental design and analysis.’

The three core qualities of Design Thinking are: generating ideas, experimentation, and keeping the user (who may be a customer or an employee) at the centre of everything a company does.

Our never-ending quest to up our game ensures we develop the most efficient production processes and give our customers the best cannabis experience possible. We’re constantly coming up with new ideas for enhancing production and quality. Then we rigorously test these new methods to assess how well they work.

We truly believe, when it comes to the global cannabis industry, the people who learn the quickest are going to win.

“Were an innovation company.”

While many of the other licensed cannabis producers in Canada have been going after the “low-hanging fruit” of sales, sales, and more sales, GreenSeal Cannabis Co. is doing the heavy lifting required to push the industry beyond the current status-quo.

We see joy in new discoveries, and we’ve focused a lot of our investment, partnerships and energy toward discovering the next best practices in cannabis production.

Spearheading our never-ending search for improvements is Dr. James Eaves, a distinguished professor at Université Laval in Quebec City. A specialist in researching urban agriculture formats and the economics of cannabis production, James is also a passionate, cutting-edge thinker who consults and serves as our Head of Innovation.

If you ask Dr. Eaves, the success of GreenSeal Cannabis Co. isn’t always measured in grams, kilograms or tonnes of cannabis flowers. The added value we’re cultivating (with his expert help!) is the knowledge and learning we’re gathering through our R&D efforts.

“We’re an innovation company,” he often observes, citing our data-oriented, Design Thinking approach to developing, testing and implementing new techniques for cannabis production.

Indoor Growing = Full Control. By growing indoors (rather than in greenhouses or outdoors) the producer has superior control of the environment. Through Dr. Eaves’ research, we’ve taken full advantage of that opportunity, and we’re running with it full-tilt.

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are concepts most people would associate with robots and Teslas, not indoor cannabis farming. But Dr. Eaves thinks differently, and he believes we can transform the entire cannabis industry with what we learn together here in Stratford.

Our ambitious shared goal is nothing short of developing a system for cultivation with the power to train itself to automatically optimize indoor cannabis growing conditions.

Generating and Testing New Ideas

It’s not enough for us to simply try something new and declare it a success based on nothing but our gut. Our R&D is designed to produce data to prove a new method works (or not!) through strong monitoring, measurement, control comparison testing, and other gold-standard research methods.

Here are some of the rigorous tests Dr. Eaves’ R&D department has already initiated here at GreenSeal in cooperation with our Head Grower Chad Morphy:

Industry’s largest ever light-comparison experiment. Every grower has their preference for grow lighting, whether it’s HighPressure Sodium (HPS), HighIntensity Discharge (HID), metal halide, LEDs, or fluorescent bulbs. But how many growers have conducted scientifically rigorous, controlled experiments

to determine which of these formats works best for cannabis?

Well, Dr. Eaves did, and the findings were compelling. LEDs produced higher yields and shorter growing periods than comparable HPS lights.

Nutrient optimization. Our 100% controlled indoor environment makes it possible to measure the impact certain fertilizer regimes and brands have on plant performance compared to others much more precisely.

The numbers don’t lie (when all other conditions are equal), which means James and his research team have been able to use data to nail down the ideal timing and concentrations of nutrients related to every phase of the cannabis plant’s growth.

Pot size and distribution [not that “pot” – the containers we grow it in!]. The standard thinking for growing cannabis has largely been based on the “bigger is better” premise: the bigger the pot is, the bigger the plant, and the larger the yield.

Dr. Eaves’ focused research, however, has revealed there is a sweet spot for pot sizes.

The data has proven confirmed the “Sea of Green” model preferred by our Master Grower is a superior format for our indoor growing purposes, particularly when combined with a vertical farming approach.

Substrate comparison. Cannabis can be grown in a variety of different mediums, including rockwool or lava pellets (for hydroponic/aquaponic applications), or varying mixtures of peat, vermiculite and other components.

Our research has determined the best substrates for our indoor growing purposes, and we’ve struck a research partnership with Pro-Mix – one of the biggest producers of growing media in the greenhouse industry – to test which of their products is most ideal for growing cannabis.

Stay tuned – as the results come out for these ongoing tests we’ll be sharing the data. But be prepared: the results might not be what you’d expect!

Digital Electricity to reduce the power bill. When you’re growing indoors one of the biggest concerns is the cost of installing electricity.

Rather than only testing the impact different types of light bulbs have on cannabis production, Dr. Eaves has taken his research to the next level by testing an entirely new format for delivering power: Digital Electricity.

Digital Electricity Explained

(Source: https://voltserver.com/idea/)

This safer and more efficient electricity transmission format (that’s also much easier and cheaper to install) allows anyone to install high-voltage electricity without an electrician or conduits. The result is that we can build a new grow room weeks faster than using traditional electricity.

Redesigning irrigation systems. When Dr. Eaves measured the differences between different irrigation formats, he discovered one method drastically saved both time and effort (and therefore saved our company money!).

These findings are part of a larger “job mapping” project where we looked at all the human processes involved in our cannabis production. The goal is to identify the tasks with the highest potential Return on Investment and the best opportunities to focus our R&D on process efficiencies and improvements.

Cannabis breeding and genetic selection program. Another exciting possibility for today’s cannabis industry involves taking the best genetics available in the world (think Dutch seed banks) and testing each strain to determine which have the best qualities for growing indoors on a large scale.

Our Master Grower is working closely with Dr. Eaves to not only test the performance of different strains, but to also crossbreed strains in order to produce hybrids featuring the best qualities from both lineages.

These new original hybrid strains will be stabilized and used to produce perfectly consistent crops providing the highest possible quality for our customers, and carefully balanced with the biggest possible yields for our business.

Vertical cultivation to maximize limited space. Dr. Eaves’ research has proven that with vertical farming formats – where plants are grown on up to 6 multi-stacked levels – the capacity for production can be increased six-fold.

That means our floorplan’s square footage has the potential to be maximized into six-times the growing space – which is exactly what we’re doing!

Cultivating cannabis indoors through effective space management has become one of Dr. Eaves’ specialties.

Check out this YouTube video (originally produced for LabRoots Cannabis Sciences Virtual Event 2018) of Professor Eaves’ presentation on the “Factors Affecting the Most Profitable Way of Allocating Space” for cannabis production (based largely on his research here at GreenSeal).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zc3afo6KzXQ&feature=youtu.be

Continuous, Data-Driven Improvements for Our Customers

Generating and testing new ideas according to the Design Thinking approach has already created outcomes promising to enhance the experience of our customers.

Increasing cannabis supply. As the legalization of cannabis has rolled out, Canadian consumers have witnessed shortages across the country.

The long-term sustainability of the entire Canadian (and global) cannabis industry requires higher yields to meet demand, and our research has already resulted in significant and measurable increases in our plants’ flower production.

Consumers expect quality. Increases in the potency of our product is another result of our efforts to put the customer at the centre of everything we do.

Our structured genetic selection and testing process has resulted in an increase in THC/CBD measurements compared to the levels our seed vendors told us to expect when we sourced their genetics.

Increased efficiencies and lower costs. The research we’ve conducted has guided us to make changes to optimize every dimension of production. These evidence-based tweaks have created greater efficiencies and lower costs, for example by reducing the time from planting a seed to harvesting the plant.

A Hub for Innovation

Our Stratford facility has already become a centre for innovation and research within the Canadian cannabis industry.

Over time, we plan to continue partnering with world-class researchers and universities as we have with Dr. Eaves and Université Laval.

We will never stop generating new ideas and testing them to determine how they can enhance the experience of our customers (both medical and recreational).

The sky’s the limit for the future of our company and the industry as a whole; as we work together to come up with better growing methods, improved formats for cannabis consumption, and new ways to harness the full untapped potential of the cannabis plant.

Do you have any ideas or insights for potential innovations to improve the experience of the cannabis customer through R&D?

Leave them in the comments section below, your valuable input could very well guide our research efforts in the future!

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