A Startup Says It Can Automate Perfect Weed Even As Earth Burns

Gif: Seedo

Over the years, a companies have claimed to make “the first” smartphone-controlled, automated home grow system. But I have thus far been only pitched by one that positions itself as a solution to growing herbs and marijuana in the age of climate catastrophe.

That honorific belongs to Seedo, an Israeli company whose “fully automated hydroponic indoor grow system for both cannabis and other herbs and vegetables” has begun shipping to companies around the globe.

“There’s no doubt that climate control is one of the major headaches for growers all around the world,” Zohar Levy, Seedo’s CEO writes me in an email. “As rising temperatures and urban population growth infringe on global food supplies, Seedo’s turnkey technology will allow people to grow their plants indoors without fear of crop loss from external climate or weather conditions.”

This is quite a pitch for a home marijuana growing system! It is both theoretically not inaccurate and part of a trend of companies tailoring their products and product pitches to an era of worsening climate crisis—Home Depot, for instance, says it is planning to sell more ceiling fans.

Apple memorably described its iPhone as essential in a globally warmed world.

“As people begin to experience severe weather events with greater frequency,” the company wrote, iPhones “can serve as a flashlight or a siren; they can provide first aid instructions; they can act as a radio; and they can be charged for many days via car batteries or even hand cranks.’’

Similarly, Levy stresses the power that his technology will grant users over the increasingly erratic whims of nature: “Outside growing has natural elements to contribute, but indoors, you are essentially Mother Nature,” he tells me. “Seedo ultimately makes room for total environmental control and gives your plants the ideal conditions they need to grow big, strong and plentiful.”

Each Seedo unit is 40cm by 61cm, costs $3,448, and can “provide a minimum quantity of 148kg of dry cannabis bud per year,” Levy says. It pairs with a smartphone app that tracks growth progress, of course, and the system is controlled by AI software that analyses the plant’s development and tweaks the inputs to “optimise growing parameters.” So far, the company has shipped 3,000 units, he says, and has attracted $16 million in investment, including $6 million from Daniel Birnbaum, the CEO of Sodastream.

The company is also building commercial-scale units, and partnered with a kibbutz “to establish the first fully automated, commercial-scale, pesticide-free containerised cannabis farm in Israel.” This, Levy says, “allows us to leverage and adapt our AI-powered technology to commercial farming applications, thereby maximising the quality, yield and reliability of crops regardless of local climate conditions.” Plenty of cannabis, regardless the burn.

Levy also emphasises the water, power, and labour savings an automated weed-growing system offers through its increased efficiency—pertinent because weed farms are massive consumers of both water and power—and that his system requires no pesticides. Plus, the AI optimisation and automation ostensibly means very little human labour will be necessary.

I have no idea if the Seedo grow system works, and can indeed generate 148kg of dank greens a year, or whether it could efficiently produce other herbs and vegetables in similar quantities. But I continue to be a little dumbstruck by the dystopian nature of both a) our actual climate changed reality and b) the nature of marketing of goods in said reality.

More efficient, less water-intensive marijuana and vegetable production would be a considerable boon as the climate grows more punishing and erratic; yet the fact such pitches are becoming normalised is deflating nonetheless.

Behold, after all, a vision in which the future is AI-powered automated grow systems optimising weed production in hermetically sealed pods as withering drought and extreme heat swelters outside. In the dark times. Will we also get high? Yes, there will be climate controlled automated grow systems for getting high in the dark times.

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