What if I told you that the plants in your garden would grow a lot better if they weren’t planted in your backyard but actually a few feet above it? Yeah, that’s right. Imagine showing your friends the sativas, indicas, and hybrids you brag about at every smoke-out suspended in the air in your backyard, roots and all.
Though it may sound like a far fetched idea, growing plants suspended in air is already a popular growing practice and it has reached the corners of many industries, including the marijuana industry. It’s called aeroponics, and whether you’re aware of it or not, it’s going to shape almost every aspect of your life in the near future.
What is Aeroponics?
Aeroponics is the process of growing plants suspended in air without the use of a soil or water-based growing medium. Instead of using soil or water, growers apply an even coat of hydro-atomized, nutrient rich mist directly to the roots of the plants using ultrasonic foggers for specific intervals and durations. Aeroponic systems are closed-loop systems, meaning that whatever doesn’t get absorbed by the roots gets reused and cycled through again. The air and climate of the plant chamber is completely regulated and controlled to produce the maximum amount of crop yield possible.
In low-pressure aeroponic systems (also called soakponic systems because of its incorporation of elements from hydroponic systems), the roots are suspended over a reservoir of the nutrient rich solution. After spraying the roots with the nutrient rich solution, the excess solution drips back into the reservoir below. The size of the solution droplets aren’t exact in low-pressure systems but the sprayers can be cheap and easy to build.
High-pressure systems are those built for high-value crops, such as marijuana. They use high-powered pumps with nozzles that deliver a consistent mist of 5-80 micrometer-sized droplets which allows the plants to absorb the nutrients with little to no energy loss. Crops that are grown through high-pressure aeroponic systems grow 20% faster than current methods. This method is best used for high-value crops because of how expensive the high powered pumps are.
The Pros and Cons of Aeroponics
The benefits of using aeroponic growing methods seem to be never ending. What makes aeroponics so appealing to many crop growers is that it uses fewer resources than any of the other growing methods currently in use. Applying the nutrients directly to the roots and creating closed-loop systems allows growers and researchers to maximize the effectiveness of the energy used to grow the plants.
Even though this growing technique is largely new, organizations such as NASA and BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado are spearheading the field’s research to find ways of implementing the practice in far reaching environments like space where resources like soil and water are limited.
Aeroponics is also highly measurable and controllable, allowing researchers and crop growers to find the best specifications that produce the highest crop yields. Not only that, but aeroponics is a great way for growers to prevent pathogen cultivation since there is no contact between the plants. If a plant becomes diseased or infected, it can be easily removed from the crop without infecting the surrounding plants.
If aeroponics is so good, why isn’t everyone setting up their rigs to grow their own marijuana? Aeroponic systems, in particular the foggers and misters, require a great deal of maintenance and upkeep to prevent crop contamination. Aeroponic systems can also be extremely expensive, especially the high pressure systems. Developing the composition of the nutrient solution, as well, can be very difficult and time consuming to pinpoint.
Aeroponics in the Marijuana Industry
Aeroponics seems to have all the solutions that marijuana growers are looking for: it uses fewer resources, it allows growers to accurately measure and control their crops’ intake, it increases crop growth and density, and it’s sterile. These are just a few of the reasons recently approved Canadian Licensed Producer, James E. Wagner Cultivation Ltd., solely uses aeroponics for cannabis cultivation.
High pressure systems, in particular, are perfect for large scale growers because of their crops’ mass production and high returns. A big problem in today’s marijuana industry is product consistency and predictability. Aeroponics provides growers and marijuana consumers with the consistency and efficiency they now demand.
Growing plants without soil may seem like a far fetched dream of the future but the reality is that the future is here and we’re already beginning to benefit from it. The marijuana industry is one of the first of many industries to benefit from all that aeroponics has to offer. Sooner or later, we might even be growing our Christmas trees in the air.
For more about the Canadian Licensed Producer using aeroponics to cultivate, be sure to read Newest Canadian L.P. Brings Variety to Cannabis Cultivation Methods. Be sure to connect with The Daily Marijuana Observer on social media on Twitter @dailymjobserver, Facebook /dailymjobserver, and Instagram @dailymarijuanaobserver and @dailymarijuanainvestor. To stay up to date on important Daily Marijuana Observer updates, be sure to subscribe to our free newsletter.