Not all cannabis is grown equally. Farming technologies and growing practices vary widely; the growing methods a licensed producer uses may play a significant role in setting them apart from the pack.
Here are some of the things being talked about:
Farm vs. Factory
Cannabis comes from plants: so why are so many of them grown in factory settings, behind concrete walls, far away from soil or sun? Cannabis needs more than other plants when it comes to protection and control. As a controlled substance, it’s prudent to keep cannabis out of view and reach from the public. As well, it’s easier to optimize the needs of the plant in a building that houses technology capable of monitoring and controlling care: light, water, temperature and humidity. Brands that want to maximize production and guarantee quality and specifications will want to grow in controllable facilities. For others, what is gained in control might be lost in flavour: the nuances that come from different soils and growing conditions – nature’s spice!
Greenhouse growing can be a good compromise between farm and factory. Greenhouse facilities can also be secure and highly controlled, even soil-less, with water, nutrients and temperature all systemized. These controlled environments have the bonus of natural sunlight during the day. Extra lighting and blackout systems will be needed to optimize production, but greenhouses still bring the production a little closer to nature.
Some growers try to replicate nature indoors by introducing natural or biodynamic atmospheres into their facilities. The best parts of nature that contribute to good cannabis are introduced to the indoor crop, controlled and without herbicides. These may include bugs, like aphids or ladybugs or fungi, added to the soil. Rather than reacting to nutrients, the plant chooses from the natural elements introduced into its biosphere, determining which elements to team up with to thrive. These biodynamic atmospheres are sustainable and natural, and a preferred source for many medical cannabis users.
The Roots of Hydroponics
Hydroponic plants are grown without soil. Nutrients are added in liquid form to the water, creating a new solution, that carries only the absolute essentials for the plant. The advantage of hydroponic growing is that water, humidity and the exact absorption of nutrients can be controlled perfectly. Plant specifications – the strength and effects of the cannabis plants – can be well managed and deliver a consistent experience to the end user.
Multi-tasking…. or Aquaponics
Aquaponics is the combination of hydroponics and fish-farming. This is done in a closed, self- sustaining system or ‘bio-dome’. Fish waste feeds the cannabis plants, with the roots acting as biological filter to clean the water. These beautiful symbiotic systems were first started in harsh climates and for the growth of produce and fish together, but they also work for cannabis cultivation. They can be built indoors or outdoors and leave a lighter footprint on the environment.
Growing outdoors is rare in some regions, like Canada, for obvious reasons: Mother Nature is not controllable. Where it is possible, growing in soil tends to generally yield large, robust plants: the roots can grow and branch out freely, growing six feet tall or higher. Over time, outdoor soil has accumulated minerals and organic matter that is very hard to replicate with any other method. Many traditionalists prefer cannabis grown outdoors, enjoying the variation of crop flavour from season to season, like wine—sometimes it’s a ‘very good year’.
Other things to note, organically speaking:
Many cannabis consumers want their products as herbicide and pesticide-free as their apples. Only in countries where cannabis is legal can a federal organic standard be matched to a production facility. This is possible in Canada, where some producers have certified their product as organic.