Aeroponic cannabis cultivation is one of the most innovative marijuana-growing techniques. It’s an efficient farming technique that omits traditional growing mediums and promises faster growth rates. Even so, that’s not to say it doesn’t come with a set of challenges. This cannabis cultivation method is rather intricate and requires incredible attention to detail. For this reason, it’s not for beginners. Still, any grower can implement this technique to maximize output and efficiency with the right information.
Traditionally, cannabis is grown in mediums such as rockwool, coco coir, or living soil. Aeroponic cultivation pivots from this convention by nurturing exposed, hanging plant roots directly through a mist laden with water and nutrients. With the right environmental controls, this method can considerably hasten crop growth.
Jim Strain, the director of cultivation for Dycar Pharmaceuticals based in Cranbrook, British Columbia, attested to the system’s swiftness, exclaiming that the speed is unbeatable. He continued to explain that he’s tested all the growing techniques available side-by-side and concluded that aeroponics is incredibly vigorous when done right and when the system is healthy.
Benefits of Going Aeroponic
Like all other cultivation techniques, aeroponics is not suitable for all growers. However, this system presents several advantages that make it worth the effort.
Accelerated Growth: When optimized, aeroponic systems can outpace traditional methods. Tim Bogaert, director of cultivation for Michigan-based aeroponic marijuana producer Rair Co., attests that after cloning, their plants only need a week’s worth of vegetation before transitioning to the flowering phase—a stark contrast to the longer timelines observed with conventional cultivation methods.
Elevated Quality: Aeroponic cultivation yields high-quality cannabis buds. Moreover, according to Chris Wrenn of AessenceGrows, their aeroponic clientele frequently reports higher THC content than counterparts using traditional mediums. Notably, THC content is often associated with rich terpenes, signaling superior cannabis quality.
Cost Efficiency: Operational cost savings emerge over time. With no growing medium involved, costs related to transport and disposal get reduced. Automation further trims down labor costs. Dycar, for instance, doesn’t invest in “truckloads of medium coming in or leaving the facility,” remarks Strain.
Facing the Aeroponic Challenges
Yet, for all its benefits, why is aeroponic cultivation still a niche? Here are some of the drawbacks to this cannabis cultivation technique.
Steep Initial Costs: Aeroponic systems, sophisticated in their mechanics, come with higher upfront equipment costs. This financial barrier often discourages potential adopters.
Technical Learning Curve: Delving into aeroponics demands an openness to embrace new technological and cultivation techniques. The need for vigilance is high, as small variables can have significant impacts on cultivation outcomes. Bogaert believes there’s a learning curve, albeit a short one, but it mandates a shift from traditional mindsets.
Imperative Cleanliness: Aeroponic systems, especially those that recirculate water, are susceptible to pathogens. Therefore, meticulous attention to sanitation is crucial. Dycar’s unfortunate encounter with black root rot in 2019 serves as a cautionary tale about the importance of sterility. Strain advises against bringing in clones, which may harbor pathogens. Regular cleaning, beyond just chemical solutions, is mandatory.
Setting the Stage for Future Growth
Although the adoption rate of aeroponic cultivation in the cannabis industry remains a mystery, those who have embraced it swear by its efficiency and yield quality. Chris Wrenn’s company, AessenceGrows, based in Santa Clara, California, aids in this progressive shift by supplying aeroponic hardware and software systems globally. Their goal? Not to serve the mass producers but rather those looking to grow the best cannabis.
The Bottom Line
As cannabis cultivation seeks innovative avenues, aeroponics emerges as a frontrunner. It may demand higher investment and technical acumen, but the promise of rapid growth and unmatched quality make it a tempting proposition for the future of cannabis growth. Even so, the technique is not for every grower and works best for those who want to produce the best-quality cannabis.