An interview with Todd Bell about the experiments and findings his group is working on with controlled atmospheres in cannabis cultivation.
How do you keep record of quality control in your laboratory?
Bell: The Grow Controlled laboratory is designed and built to collect environmental data. All environmental data is logged in our KiloWatch energy management system. The KiloWatch system monitors and controls data points from our in-house environmental probes and sensors in grow chambers. Our programmers work with each client to customize the system to the metrics and data points that are relevant to their operations.
Regarding your grow lab, what have you found to be the least effective method for cultivation?
Bell: We’ve only cultivated with organic soil. Our focus is to create the perfect growing environment that can be applied to any method of cultivation.
How does a gas tight room replicate similar altitudes of mountainous regions?
Bell: By lowering the oxygen in the room at any elevation, the partial pressure of oxygen is reduced on the plant to allow easier photosynthesis to occur. For example, atmosphere air at 18,000 feet on a mountain top is still 21.0%, but the atmospheric pressure is reduced up there. By reducing the oxygen to 10.5%, the barometric pressure is 14.9 compared to 29.9 at standard elevation. This Grow Controlled Pressure Atmosphere (GCPA) method is patent pending.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of this?
Bell: Some advantages we are seeing, mentioned earlier, are the increased yields and terpenes. We are also experimenting with changing the light cycles from a 12/12 cycle to 10/10 to increase “days” in a year, thereby increasing your bottom line. Finding the sweet spot of daytime hours for each phenotype may take years, but it is our goal as the industry continues to mature. A disadvantage is the need to air the room up to 19.5% or higher oxygen before entering to do work. However, this actually becomes an advantage as well since we are limiting easy access and fewer microbial transfers by workers.
What are the next steps for your company in cultivation and post-harvest research?
Bell: Our next trials, along with light cycles, will focus on the life cycle of insects and molds under low oxygen environments. Insects can survive an extended period of time in low oxygen environments. However, we believe the ability for insects to reproduce is greatly compromised in low oxygen environments.
About the Author
Madeline Colli is the Associate Editor for Cannabis Science and Technology. Direct correspondence to: [email protected]
How to Cite this Article
M. Colli, Cannabis Science and Technology 3(2), 46–47 (2020).