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Disruptive and Transformative Technology Benefiting Hemp Farming

John Roberts

  • Project Description

    Mariposa Technology is currently developing a novel use for Raman Spectroscopy (RS) which will allow for rapid field testing of agricultural products (hemp) through a hand-held device. We aim to complement and/or eventually replace the traditional methods of laboratory testing procedures, such as Liquid Chromatography (LC) and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Initially, this project will focus on the rapid field testing of hemp for levels of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), since TCH levels must legally remain below 0.3%. Early-stage use of RS for testing of agricultural products has shown immense promise, but additional validation and testing is necessary to establish this technology in the field (Sanchez, L., et al. (2020). "Raman-Based Differentiation of Hemp, Cannabidiol-Rich Hemp, and Cannabis." Analytical Chemistry 92(11): 7733-7737). RS spectra for analytes like THC are complex and show multiple vibration bands allowing us to utilize these vibrational bands to produce an algorithm from which we will be able to accurately measure analytes. During this launch phase of our business, we will focus on the building of an RS database necessary for the testing of hemp cultivator strains under various growth conditions. We have scientific and agricultural partners ready to participate in our database development.
  • Why is the timing right for your idea?

    Since the Farm Bill of 2018 allowed for the legal farming of industrial hemp, with a strict tolerance for all THC present in a plant at 0.3% maximum, farmers have struggled to find affordable, convenient, and reliable testing methods. Today, getting a hemp crop tested for THC levels is costly, averaging $550 and involves having a licensed “handler” come to your farm to cut samples from the number of plants requested by the lab, and then transporting them to said lab. More testing results in more damage to the farmer’s crop as well as a significant carbon footprint. We aim to eliminate much of this expense and carbon foot print with a better technological choice, Raman Spectroscopy.

  • What is your competitive advantage?

    Mariposa Technology will offer tests that are affordable, convenient, have maximum reliability, and can be conducted in the field. This will eliminate transportation and other chain of custody costs. Furthermore, conventional testing procedures require that the material must be desiccated prior to testing, while RS testing can be utilized on living samples before harvest. This means farmers can test more often and ensure their crop is in optimal condition before deciding to harvest. Current feedback from hemp farmers in Colorado, Florida and Louisiana has indicated that several pain points discussed above could be eliminated with an easy-to-read, hand-held tool which we are proposing to utilize.

  • What will you do with $10,000?

    The $10K prize will enable Mariposa Technology to launch it's full website, establish dataset partnerships, and build out the farmer contact visitation plans for this season's hemp crop. Not only will the cash prize help tremendously, the added value of winning the startup grind competition will be fantastic!