Monitoring and risk mitigation for indoor cannabis

Placement: In-vent monitoring post filtration
Project goal: Understand how can Sensio Air can help indoor growers improve yield, and reduce annual loss of biomass due to pathogens.


Project Partner:
A Colorado based Cannabis grower with state-of-the art indoor cultivation facility. The study was funded by Sensio Air and the HVAC provider.

Fig 1. Picture of the indoor growing facility in Colorado

Identified Challenges:

1. Airborne threats such as Fungi

The most common cannabis diseases are caused by Fungus:
- White Powdery Mildew (Culprit: Fungi Golovinomyces)
- Gray Mold aka. Bud Rot (Culprit: Fungi Botrytis)
- Fusarium Wilt (Culprit: Fungi Fusarium )
- Alternaria - causes 20% of total agricultural spoilage

Diseases can spread between plants and settle very rapidly. One of the most useful solutions is an early detection system for the most damaging species: prevention is best defense against fungi disease.
In addition, it is reported that 9% of crop loss happens post harvest during storage.

2. Pollen contamination reducing yield of sensimilla

Cannabinoids, including the valuable end products THC and CBD, are concentrated in the female flower tissue. A study found that pollination decreased the yield of essential oils in cannabis flowers by 56%. Today, most marijuana is sinsemilla (Spanish for “without seeds”) and seeded crops are considered inferior, commanding a lower price in the marketplace. The same strategy is now also being applied by industrial hemp growers producing CBD.

3. Cross-pollination by foreign Hemp and Cannabis plants

In both Hemp and Cannabis sectors, cross-pollination can lead to massive losses. In the hemp industry, cross-pollinating with high-THC cannabis leads to the destruction of high-THC hemp harvests and total crop loss. And in cannabis, it can mean significantly reduced yields. The industrial hemp regulations of the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA) state that a safe distance range, between 3 miles and 30 miles, must be kept between varied hemp pedigrees and cultivars. Male cannabis plants flower for a period of two to four weeks, and a single male flower can produce 350,000 pollen grains and some observations showed it could travel more than 50 miles. It is therefore of the outmost importance to implement segregation mechanisms to protect your culture.

Fig 2. The Sensio Air device, mobile app and dashboard 

Preventative Solution:

Sensio Air has developed the first real-time airborne pathogen sensor that is fully automated and does not require expensive consumable change. The sensor will alert growers immediately of any pollen or mold related risk.

Sensio Air uses a patented technology to identify and differentiate airborne pathogens such as pollen and mold in your facility. All data is accessible to the operator via a mobile app or web dashboard – showing the real-time risk along with custom recommendations and mitigation techniques.

Tests performed:

Two sensors were placed strategically near the ventilation system of the 30x18m indoor growing facility. An Allergenco-D Posi-Track® slide was used alongside each device to compare results with reference allergen testing methods.

The slides collected were then analyzed by a third party independent laboratory in the United Kingdom: the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit of Worcester University (that produces the UK's pollen count, and was the world's first pollen forecasting service).

Dr. Beverley Adam-Grooms analyzed each slide using the reference method in pollen and mold identification: staining and morphological identification using optical microscopy. Her findings corresponded to Sensio Air's readings in the facility.

Fig 3. Testing setup at the NPARU of the University of Worcester and microscopic image of mold sample

Early results:

A steady climb of the value mold has been noticed from the indoor and the outdoor sensor, it seems to coincide with the fluctuation of temperature and humidity caused by the ventilation; the on and off HVAC system, instead of an inverter system would provide flow correction for the climatic change inside the room. Since this is not available at the moment, we can clearly see in the Hyper dashboard synchronous change in conditions, based on both temperature and humidity: When the temperature fluctuates and humidity rises the mold is increasing, and vice versa, so it is decreasing when the humidity drops. (Fig 1)

The data clearly shows this correlation, and this is a great way for us to understand how it’s impacting the presence of mold on the buds. One of the main customer’s complaints.

Furthermore, the dashboard signaled peaks in VOCs specifically at the time of movement, which means that at some times there was human activity next to the sensor.

We can also see the graph shows very low dust mites and very low pet dander, It’s therefore clear that the main challenge currently faced in the growing room is mold and it’s increasing over time.

When looking at the graph it’s important to notice the different resolutions in there, in regards of different time brackets, weekly records are different than the monthly records due to data point averaging, and so the fluctuations are obvious at the daily and weekly graphing of the mold, humidity, and the temperature data. Furthermore, we’ve noticed that the light was being turned off from in the evening and back on in the morning. This has a negative impact on the reading of the indoor sensor, therefore we need to shield the device from this fluctuation of light. Sensio Air detected birch pollen inside and outside a common tree in Colorado, confirming readings are correct.

Fig 1: Dotted lines on graph showing the relationship between temperature, mold, and humidity.


- Sensio Air can detect airborne fungi early on and allow you to save your plants during cultivation and storage.

- Sensio Air can help detect pollen from male plants early on, and allow growers to take action to protect their female plants from unwanted pollination.

  • Sensio Air will alert you of the presence of any unwanted pollen in the air early on and allow you to take quick mitigation measures to protect your plants.

With Sensio Air, growers remain a step ahead of mold threats or pollen intrusion: they can make smarter choices to protect their crops.

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