Premium medical cannabis to become New Zealand’s new ‘sauvignon blanc’ with the help of The Yield’s Sensing+

Stories

Established in 2018, Puro is based in the picturesque Marlborough region on the South Island of New Zealand. The Māori people refer to this region as "Kei Puta te Wairau" - the place with the hole in the cloud.

Marlborough was handpicked by Puro for its high sunshine hours, intense UV ratings, and its clean environment. Together with fertile, rich soils and a unique microclimate, the region provides the perfect location for growing world-class produce. The Marlborough region already has a reputation for producing some of the world’s finest, award-winning food and wine.

Puro grow low-THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) hemp and medical cannabis. Sold as a dried flower or oil, it is used to enhance the lives of those suffering debilitating pain and medical conditions.

The startup recently raised NZ$4million through an online public funding platform - the highest amount ever raised by crowdfunding in New Zealand or Australia. The money raised is being used to build their research centre and initial growing facilities.

Perfecting the playbook for a world class product

Medical cannabis is a relatively new industry and the Puro team is still learning about the optimal growing and weather conditions for their crops. The Yield enables Puro to proactively manage their farming decisions based on data and analytics so they can get the best out of their two growing sites.

The first site comprises of 25 hectares at Winterhome farm in Kekerengu. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this elevated coastal property provides a unique microclimate well suited to growing crops in the open air. The first cannabis hemp crop was planted here in December 2019.

Coupled with a second site in Waihopai Valley, which has the capability to extend to 33.5 hectares, Puro has the basis to become New Zealand’s largest grower of medical cannabis and industrial hemp.

The Yield’s Sensing+ solution provides Puro with real-time data on growing conditions, of how much sun or water the plants need, based on the specific microclimate at their farm at Kekerengu. The data enables Puro to determine when is the optimum time to plant, irrigate, feed, protect and harvest its crop.

The best operators are driven by data

Tom Forrest, Puro Cultivation Director and Co-founder, who has visited over 50 commercial growing operations around the world, says the ‘best operators are driven by data’.

“Puro is using this technology to generate novel analytic information and automatically adjust growing conditions so the plants get exactly what they need to thrive. It completely takes the guess work out of growing.”

“The Yield is allowing us to accurately predict next season’s irrigation requirements and balance it with natural rainfall. We are able to schedule our watering holding capacity and frequency, to be as efficient and green as possible.”

At Kekerengu, Puro has a strong focus on regenerative agriculture. They maintain soil health using natural amendments such as covering crops, locally developed mulch and biological soil inputs.

“The Yield allows us to monitor soil health and water retention, and accurately track our long term improvements to the soil.”

A valuable function of Sensing+ is using AI to precisely predict the weather, 14 days in advance, enabling informed crop management.

“We can set alarms for specific sets of conditions, for example, weather that is conducive to a certain pest or disease, so that our team can act before the problem arises.

“If there is a critical weather condition approaching, we are better prepared than farmers have ever been before!”

Tom Forrest says using Sensing+ will help Puro achieve its goal to produce world-leading quality medicinal cannabis and hemp.

“Ultimately, The Yield is taking away a lot of the risk and helping us cultivate higher quality crops for the growing global medical cannabis market,” says Tom.

“The data and analytics from Sensing+ will enable us to perfect the playbook to deliver some of the world’s best medical cannabis.”

Tom Forrest says Puro has learned a tremendous amount since planting its pilot crop in December, and this will help ensure the crops they plant this spring will be truly world-class.

Sensing+ node at the Winterhome hemp farm in Kekerengu.

Read more on The Yield's Sensing+ Solution

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