When opportunity presents itself, Alex and Jennie aren’t afraid to grab hold. Now proud owners of some land and a greenhouse in Central Minnesota, they’ve expanded their investment in the business of hemp. Alex also partners in a lighting company that serves the indoor hemp and medicinal cannabis markets. Jennie focuses on the farm. They use the greenhouse for genetic development of feminized hemp seed as well as some hemp flower production. The majority of the hemp produced for CBD oil is grown outside. “We planted 32 acres of industrial hemp this year. It went pretty well for our first year trying it, so we’re looking to expand to 76 acres next year,” said Alex.
“When we were introduced to the EarthScout, Jennie and I got especially excited when we heard about the concept of multi-channel sensors that could be customized to fit different growing environments,” remarked Alex, “this goes way beyond soil probes alone!” Jennie has several EarthScout units in the hemp fields outside and is using the data to help monitor soil health development along with other growth factors. “Measuring moisture at more than one level in the soil is a great way to really dial-in our irrigation and fertigation efficiency. And measuring micro-climate temperature and humidity can help me make more timely decisions to stay ahead of emerging pests,” said Jennie.
Alex sees the opportunities with EarthScout in a different light. “We plan to use the EarthScout units in our greenhouse grow so we can build data benchmarks and also help eliminate variables that could skew results in our comparative lighting trials,” comments Alex. Having sensors that can measure the photosynthetic density is especially important to his lighting trials and also correlates data with his CO2 sensors. “A limiting factor in photosynthesis is CO2,” explains Alex, “more lights and a more complete light spectrum can only push photosynthesis so far, so we pump CO2 into the greenhouse at times to ramp up photosynthetic activity.” Alex also keeps a close eye on his oxygen sensors as the greenhouse re-sets after the CO2 infusion.
Next season, Jennie is looking forward to using a new probe that measures the soil structure or matrix on her expanded acres. “We’re just getting into hemp and we want to do it right,” said Jennie, “building our data from the ground up is a smart way to help make the most out of our investment, and owning our own data will become more valuable every year we learn and grow.”
Alex plans on adding more EarthScout sensors in the greenhouse and more carefully measuring factors like growing environment, nutrient levels and ventilation. When these can be proven consistent in comparative lighting tests, Alex will also have stronger data to demonstrate the effectiveness of his lights.