February 11, 2018

Botana, an Integrated Smart Grow Platform

Most growers will tell you that despite the expansion of technology in the cannabis sector, little of it has trickled down to the level of the gardener. Most farmers still rely on a good old-fashioned notebook. The status quo is no integration, little automation, and absolutely no data analysis on environmental conditions.

Less than 10 percent of market relies on any form of hi-resolution sensor, or even basic automation to produce cannabis. Fully automated grow rooms represent only a small percentage of the marketplace. But Robert Schneider, the founder, and CEO of Botana expects this will quickly change over the course of the next decade.

According to Schneider, despite the move towards automation and hi-resolution sensor systems, there is a knowledge gap when it comes down to the level of the grower. Botana is an app built to address this issue, by going directly into the field with the farmer to log, analyze, and actualize crop data. Botana is at its core an integrated smart grow platform.


Botana, a Smart Grow App

There was a clear need in the industry to move away from the illegible coffee-stained notes taken by rushed growers, given that Botana already has 7,000 users.  Botana targets the professional grower (large or small) and is structured to compile vital data while in the field. Importantly, Botana functions without a connection, recognizing that not all operations have full wifi coverage. Once wifi is available, Botana will reconnect and safely back up all data collected.

Because it is built to accompany the grower throughout the entire operation, the app allows the farmer to track the most critical variables in a grow, including:

  • Unlimited photos, organized by day
  • Full environmental data including feeding details and light recipes
  • Pest control through the Bug Tracker tool
  • Growing medium adjustments
  • Categorize and store variables between strains

The app works across multiple gardens and has the option to start a strain library, making it easy for farmers to organize the genetic data of each new crop properly.


The Bug Tracker: Providing an Industry-Wide Benefit

Unlike nearly every other commercial crop, cannabis lacks an industry-wide Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan. While each cannabis farmer may know how to manage a variety of pests, there is no data analysis between individual farms. The Bug Tracker aims to develop this vital community knowledge base; compiling data on environment, strain, fungicides, pesticides and more from which all growers can pull from to exponentially improve pest control.


The Messy Problem of Cannabis Strains

Schneider hints that in the future, Botana will help to address the many issues within the messy world of cannabis strains. While there may be nearly 9000 known strains on the market today, the genetic basis of this number is highly questionable.

From Botana’s point of view, while a cannabis genotype structures the possible outcomes for a particular strain, the phenotype (environmental influences) have a substantial say on the final chemotype.

In layman's terms, the final characteristics of a strain can vary significantly depending on the growing environment. Through better analysis of the data encompassing strain, growing conditions, and final laboratory results, Botana hopes to finally unravel the messy state cannabis strain. Perhaps one day leading to a complete, accurate and logical database.


On the Horizon for Botana in 2018

In 2018, Botana will continue to build off its vision of smarter grow operations through shared a knowledge base. Although already a collaborative platform at the team level, Botana plans to launch a broader method of integration. For example, bringing together consultants with the real-life data collected by their clients, or even bringing together growers from different organizations, to work through an issue together.

The ability to pool knowledge far outside the reaches of the grow room will no doubt lead to exponential advancements in the industry. Schneider will open the doors to supportive sectors, like those within the lighting and fertilizer industries. By connecting growers directly to their suppliers, the app will open up lines of communication and facilitate much better information flow on specs and user data.

Schneider and the Botana team have based their development on the same models most growers use in the field. They have built a robust native platform but will continue to tweak it based on the needs of its users. As with any cannabis farm, a gardener is never satisfied. Every day's a new opportunity to assess what is valuable, what is useful, and what needs to go. In 2018, Botana will continue relying on the feedback of its users to adjust the platform as needed.