Cannabis Cultivation: What is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics is a cultivation method that uses only water to grow plants, i.e. it’s the method of growing cannabis or any other plants without soils.
There are many reasons why cannabis growers may choose hydroponics to grow they cannabis plants. For example, hydroponics eliminates soil-borne pests that can affect the plant root. Moreover, you will not need to use large amounts of pesticides with this cultivation method.
You would need to add nutrients to the water so the plant can absorb the necessary nutrients to grow and become a healthy and leafy cannabis plant.
There are many methods of hydroponics and some are more expensive than others. In other words, it will depend on your budget.
What is Hydroponics?
This method is very particular as it only uses water and soil is never used in the cultivation process. Hydroponics is a very old cultivation method and it has been used since at least seventeenth century. The first published work about hydroponics was the 1627 book Sylva Sylvarum or ‘A Natural History’ by Francis Bacon that was printed in 1627, and it gained popularity after that. However, it wasn’t developed until nineteenth century, when German botanists Julius von Sachs and Wilhelm Knop developed the technique of soilless cultivation.
This method allows nutrients and water to be applied directly to the root of the plant. Hence, it is considered more efficient than soil-based cultivation methods. In addition, it is an effective method to save water.
Hydroponics allows the plant to absorb nutrients directly without searching for nutrients through the soil. This method could result in healthier and more vigorous plants.
In addition, this method reduces soil erosion and water pollution. Moreover, pesticides from soil-based cultivations might pollute rivers, streams, and other water sources. In short, hydroponics is also an environmentally friendly cultivation method.
Some studies claim growing plants hydroponically are higher in fruit yield and higher plant survival rate. However, fruits cultivated in soil have a higher overall mass.
Other research prove that hydroponic cultivation uses less water which means it could be a sustainable alternative to traditional cultivation methods.
Furthermore, hydroponics requires fewer materials such as nutrients, fertilizers, water and the aforementioned pesticides.
Hydroponics and Cannabis
You can plant cannabis using hydroponics as a cultivation method. There are different techniques to apply this method.
Deep Water Culture
With this hydroponics system, each plant is placed in separated pots. This method is considered the simplest of all hydroponic methods. Plants are usually placed on a Styrofoam platform with water underneath. An air pump supplies air to a air stone that releases nutrients and oxygen that is absorbed by the plants’ roots.
However, this method is not effective for all type of plants. For instance, it is effective for growing lettuce, but it is not recommended for bigger plants such as cannabis.
Another simple hydroponic cultivation method. In this system, plants are placed into a container and below the container there is a reservoir with oxygenated water and nutrients. Hydroton (expanded clay pellets) is used to fill around the roots and a wick (usually a cotton wick) that will absorb the water and nutrients. The wick must be in contact with the plant root. The video below explains the process and how you can build a wicking hydroponic system:
Hydroponics: Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain)
You will need a reservoir and a water pump. This method doesn’t keep the root constantly submerged in water. The water pump, pumps up water (with a nutrient solution) to the grow tray and then the water with the nutrient solution is drained back into the reservoir so the plants get exposed to oxygen.
This is probably the most widely used system in the world. In this system, the nutrient solution is dripped onto the base of each plant. A time-controlled pump is used to deliver the nutrient solution to each plant.
Hydroponics: Nutrient Film Technique
It’s very similar to the water culture technique. However, in this system plants are placed in a “planting tube”. The nutrient solution is pumped into the growing tray so the roots can absorb all the nutrients and then it drains back into the reservoir again.
This method is not the most effective because the roots dry out very fast when the flow of nutrients is interrupted (for example caused by a power interruption).
This method is the most complicated and high-tech one of all hydroponic methods. In this method, the roots hang in the air and they will be misted with the nutrient solution every few minutes. As the Nutrient Film Technique, the roots will dry out fast if the misting cycles are interrupted. This is probably the most complicated method and it needs more investment than with other hydroponic systems.