Aeroponics is a form of hydroponic gardening which is making enormous waves in the marijuana industry. The lack of usable farmland is a global problem as it becomes unusable due to environmental factors, or else the land gets used up for something other than agriculture. Add in issues surrounding energy and water conservation, and it is clear that we are at crisis point.
We are in a situation where the agriculture sector is requiring innovative ways to maintain crop sustainability, and aeroponics fits the bill. There are marijuana growers who use this type of cannabis cultivation system, use 95% less water, AND produce up to quadruple the yield than those who continue using ‘traditional’ growth methods.
Aeroponics doesn’t require a growing medium for a plant’s roots. Instead, the roots are suspended in the air, while the nutrients and water are provided using a system that mists the roots perpetually. It is a relatively new form of growing crops as it was only discovered in the early 20th century.
The appropriately named Richard Stoner invented and patented one of the first modern forms of aeroponics. Stoner developed a prototype for growing herbs in a greenhouse, and later founded AgriHouse.
How Do Aeroponics Growing Systems Work?
Once the roots are suspended in the air, and the water and nutrients are provided via misting, the nutrients and water combine with CO2 (carbon dioxide), sunlight, and oxygen to ensure your weed is healthy (as long as the roots receive moisture).
An aeroponics system is comprised of the following:
- Planter bed: This is where you grow your marijuana plants. Typically, it includes three systems: Drainage, misting, and a system that supports and separates the roots from the cannabis plant.
- Reservoir: This is where the water supply is stored. You need to check it for nutrient levels and quality constantly.
- Pumps: These are used to connect the planter bed to the reservoir and constantly exchange the water.
In the beginning, you must place a seedling grown in a non-soil growing medium (such as Coco Noir or Rockwool). Next, place your seedlings in special pots that separate the interior and exterior of the planter bed. Place a collar around the stalk’s base to prevent the mist from molding the stalk or evaporating it.
The collar is also an effective means of ensuring your plants’ roots don’t become damaged or infected. The roots should quickly grow out of the growing medium and through the pot. Meanwhile, the plant will grow vertically away from the bed.
You will need to use spray nozzle attachments to deliver the water. The water is released from the nozzle in the form of a fine mist, and it covers the plant’s root systems. Any excess moisture produced is collected on the bottom of the bed, and is drained back into the reservoir.
High-Quality Versus Low Quality Aeroponics
There are a variety of systems to choose from, and it is important to understand what you’re letting yourself in for. A premium quality system will consist of two reservoirs, one for spraying the water onto the roots, and another to contain the excess water. As a result, you can spray fresh water onto the roots and enjoy a greater degree of control.
A top-notch system also includes special spray nozzles and high-pressure pumps. When combined, they create a fog featuring droplets so tiny that they can’t be spotted using the naked eye (under 50 microns in size).
When you have a good system, the roots of your weed will receive an equal amount of water. Also, you don’t have to worry about water escaping from the sides of the basin. When water escapes, it (along with nutrients) gets wasted, and the humidity in the grow room rises.
If you utilize a low-quality aeroponics system, large droplets are sprayed on the roots. These DIY systems also don’t have a proper method of separation between the reservoirs. If this happens, you could end up with an imbalanced pH level, and you will not have any control over what gets sprayed on the roots.
Aeroponics Advantages and Disadvantages
Pros of Growing Weed Using Aeroponics
First and foremost, the roots of the cannabis plant remain in contact with oxygen for the entire growing cycle. Also, the nutrients that are dissolved in the water go straight to the roots, meaning your weed gains access to them immediately. As aeroponics ensures that your plants grow close to one another, there is no problem with plants desperately seeking soil territory. As a result, you can grow more cannabis in less space than before.
Aeroponics is arguably the most efficient method of growing plants. For a start, it uses up to 90% less water than in-ground farming; it also uses an incredible 40% less water than a hydroponic setup. One of the biggest issues facing agriculture is a reduced amount of available water – up to 70% of the world’s water is used for irrigation. If we can fully adopt aeroponics, we can continue to benefit from fast and effective crop growth without dipping into the planet’s valuable water reserves.
As you are not using soil, you can harvest your cannabis crop a lot faster and your plants are less susceptible to an infestation of pests or disease. In essence, you are no longer dependent on soil quality and agricultural space.
Cons of Growing Weed Using Aeroponics
First and foremost, aeroponics is NOT for the amateur gardener. If you don’t already possess vast knowledge of marijuana cultivation or agriculture in general, aeroponics is not for you. Despite its many advantages, things can go wrong very quickly when you use an aeroponics system.
For example, if you suffer a power outage, your roots won’t receive enough water. As a result, they will dry out quickly and the entire root system can die. Your system MUST remain active 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Issues such as clogged nozzles, broken pumps, and empty reservoirs all ruin your 24/7 system. Did you know that if your root systems go without moisture for an hour, they will start dying?
As you obviously can’t be in the room the entire time, you must create a system that provides an immediate alert if something goes wrong. Assuming that you’re not a hermit, you also need to hire someone to take control if you happen to be away from the area for any period.
We recommend investing in a high-quality timer system and stable wiring. This setup ensures that your spray timer is perfectly synchronized. Rather than spraying the vapor 24/7, make sure you set the timer to spray the vapor every few seconds. Make sure the reservoirs are not see-through because you don’t want light to penetrate the basin. If it does, algae can grow and block the spray nozzles.
Make sure the temperature for the roots does not exceed 73 degrees Fahrenheit; the ideal temperature range is between 64 and 68 degrees. A water cooler is a handy means of controlling water temperatures. Although it is an expensive item, it could provide massive yields which more than makes up for the cost.
We also recommend using CFL or LED lights for aeroponics because they make it easier to control room temperature. If the grow room seems excessively warm, use white colored basins to reflect the lights from the outside; a process that reduces water temperature.
Quality of Cannabis Grown with Aeroponics
Although an aeroponics setup is unquestionably expensive, growers agree that the end product makes the investment worthwhile. A combination of indoor growing and ensuring that nutrients are applied directly to the plant’s roots means that marijuana grown using aeroponics develops enormous buds. Ultimately, growers end up with plants that have a high trichome content.
In 2001, a study by the University of Arizona analyzed the effect of aeroponics on two plants noted for their medicinal properties: Burdock and echinacea. The burdock performed spectacularly, by producing harvests that were almost 1,000% greater than the average yield of field-grown burdock. The lack of soil also ensured that the crop was easier to harvest.
The cannabis industry is at the forefront of efforts to implement aeroponics technology. As well as providing bigger yields using less water, aeroponics could potentially be used to increase food production; a necessity given the Earth’s rapidly growing population.