Australis Capital Inc., through its majority owned subsidiary ALPS, recently entered into a technology implementation agreement with Copperstate Farms, Arizona’s largest cannabis wholesaler.

In Phase 1 of the two-year planned expansion, Copperstate Farms is contracting with ALPS to implement a full technology and workflow upgrade of its existing facility with industrial greenhouse management solutions, enhanced cultivation practices, compliance upgrades, and computerized maintenance management services through ALPS’ APIS offering. The anticipated outcome is significantly increased yield and enhanced product quality, enabling Copperstate to continue to meet and lead the rapidly growing demand in the Arizona market for high-quality products in full compliance with state requirements.

Also part of the Phase 1 project will be the engineering support for the construction of a world-class processing and manufacturing facility operated by Copperstate Farms in Tempe, AZ. This manufacturing facility is in the same building as the company’s Sol Flower dispensary. As part of the contract, ALPS will also support Copperstate Farms to achieve Good Management Practices compliance for this facility. Furthermore, the facility will benefit from ALPS’ APIS compliance and maintenance solution. Through APIS, an Internet of Things style solution, key performance indicators used to optimize quality and economic output of a facility, as well as other data, are monitored to facilitate compliance audits and streamline maintenance. APIS offers highly sophisticated preventative maintenance capabilities, generating a substantial return on investment through increased facility yields, higher product quality, and significantly reduced facility downtime.

In Phase 2 of the project, Copperstate intends to utilize ALPS for the design, construction management, and (post) commissioning services in relation to the planned expansion of its greenhouse facility by an additional 40 acres. The new facility will benefit from the latest in IP and know-how developed by ALPS and its technology partners to deliver high-quality cannabis produced at exceptionally low operating costs.

Greenhouse Grower asked Fife Symington, co-founder and Managing Director of Copperstate Farms, more about the expansion.
What was the reason for the technology investment?

Fife Symington: The reason was demand driven, considering how quickly Arizona transitioned from medical to recreational sales following the passage of Prop 207. We knew it was necessary to expand our cultivation and advance our proven grow methods by incorporating new technologies. Copperstate Farms plans to break ground on a 40-acre greenhouse project next year, doubling our production footprint to 80 acres under glass. The investment will allow Copperstate Farms to create a purpose-built cannabis cultivation facility that incorporates the best-in-class standards and systems from Canada, and globally.

Specifically, what types of technology in the greenhouse will be added or updated?

Symington: The big advancements will include cutting-edge ventilation and climate control systems,  as well as an increased emphasis on automation.

Are there problems the team is hoping to solve, and what are your ultimate goals?

Symington: When we established Copperstate Farms in 2016, we retrofitted a tomato greenhouse and learned many lessons along the way. In the intervening five years, there has been a revolution in cannabis greenhouse cultivation with a tremendous amount of investment made in Canada. We want to implement that state-of-the-art technology and continue to streamline our processes. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Copperstate Farms has developed a systematic and sustainable approach to growing at scale, now we are just advancing our model.

What is the timeline for completion?

Symington: We expect to break ground in Q1 of 2022, but we are still in the planning process and global supply chains are still recovering from delays from the COVID-19 pandemic.