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機器人會接管大麻種植嗎?
 

中興大學 生物系統工程研究室 陳加忠

 
 

https://www.mmjdaily.com/article/9320634/will-robots-take-over-cannabis-cultivation/

儘管園藝行業因依賴高科技解決方案和自動化而聞名,其最終目標是以最大的效率以實現規模經濟地種植農作物。但是整個大麻產業卻無法說同樣的話。  許多大麻農場仍然嚴重依賴人工。這主要是由於以下的事實:自動化機器可能很難處理細膩的大麻花而不會造成品質損失。隨著市場的成熟,對優質大麻的需求正在增長,沒有絲毫放緩的跡象。而且,儘管農業機械的創新隨著時間的推移已經有了實質性的進步。但是當技術人員比機器人做得更好時,完全依靠自動化可能會特別具有挑戰性。

其背後的原因在於,與更多傳統園藝產品比較,大麻是一種更有價值的作物。例如,番茄種植者過於依賴自動化,由於病原體,生長不良或收穫期間發生的損害而導致產品損失,這是可以預料的,並且最終不會對公司的成本底線造成太大影響。但是使用於大麻,即使損失很小,也可能使大麻農場損失數千美元,並浪費大量時間。

當涉及到栽培的最後階段,即乾燥和調製,這種情況尤其如此。一些大麻農場決定手工收穫,以盡可能地保持花朵的完整性。同樣,大部分時間也是手動進行修剪的。在收穫和採摘方面有自動化的解決方案。但是人們普遍認為機器修剪會損壞花朵,尤其是脆弱trichomes線從而對最終產品的品質及其價值產生負面影響。然而種植者還必須考慮操作效率。不用說,手工修剪比機器修剪花費更多的時間。因此,一方面當種植者在意生產最高品質的大麻,但真正的挑戰在於如何將效率與高品質相結合。

當涉及到更好地使大麻產業自動化時,新的革命性產品的需求對於現有產品的改進很少。較小的變化,例如可以通過調整光照和濕度來預設一個完整的16週生長周期的控制系統。或者一個用於收穫計劃和產品分配的軟體,以更好地跟踪庫存,也是人們追求的解決方案。隨著進一步的合法化,因此有望發展迅速的行業,自動化有很大的增長空間。但目前來看,機器人並不會接管大麻產業。

Will robots take over cannabis cultivation?

Even though the horticulture industry is renowned for its reliance on high-tech solutions and automation, as the ultimate goal is to achieve the best efficiency to grow crops at scale profitably, the same cannot be said about the entirety of the cannabis industry.

A lot of cannabis farms still heavily rely on human labor; this is mainly caused by the fact that it can be difficult for automated machines to handle the delicate cannabis flowers without any loss in quality. As the market matures, the demand for high-quality cannabis is growing to show no sign of slowing down. And although innovation in agricultural machinery has advanced substantially over time, it can be particularly challenging to fully rely on automation when a skilled person does a better job than a robot.

The reason behind that lies in the fact that cannabis is a more valuable crop than more ‘traditional’ horticultural commodities. For instance, tomato growers too heavily rely on automation, and a loss of product due to pathogens, failed growth, or damages occurred during the harvest is to be expected, and eventually, it won’t affect a company’s bottom line much. But with cannabis, even a little loss could cost a cannabis farm thousands of dollars and a lot of time wasted.

Such a thing is especially true when it comes to the final stages of cultivation, namely drying and curing. Several cannabis farms decide to harvest by hand to preserve the integrity of the flower as much as possible; similarly, the trimming too occurs by hand most of the time. There are automated solutions when it comes to harvesting and picking, but there is the popular belief that machine trimming damages the flowers, especially the delicate trichomes, thus negatively affecting the quality of the end-product, as well as its value. Yet, a grower has to consider also the efficiency of the operation: hand trimming takes way more time than machine trimming, needless to say. So, while on the one hand growers care about producing the highest quality cannabis, the real challenge lies in combining efficiency with high quality.

When it comes to better automating the cannabis industry, there is less demand for new, revolutionary products than for improving existing ones. Minor changes, such as a control system that can be preset with light and humidity adjustments for a full 16-week grow cycle, or a single software for both harvest planning and product distribution for better inventory tracking are also sought-after solutions. With further legalization promising an expansion of the burgeoning industry, there is plenty of room for automation to grow.

But for now, robots won't take over the cannabis industry.