Yo, what’s good? It’s your boy Dan, coming at you with some knowledge about fertigation and how it’s bringing precision to cannabis nutrient application. If you’re a grower, you know how important it is to keep your plants healthy and thriving. Fertigation is an automated system that can be adapted to any irrigation system, making it easy to apply nutrients accurately without wasting your time mixing them by hand.
Now, why is fertigation so important in the cannabis industry? Well, for one thing, it’s a sign of how popular cannabis is becoming in places where it’s legal. With more and more countries legalizing cannabis, prices are dropping and competition is fierce. Automation is key to staying competitive while producing high-quality product.
So, what exactly is fertigation? It’s a highly accurate automated nutrient application system that’s generally used in large-scale cannabis operations. Fertigation systems use dissolved nutrients, which means you don’t have to waste time measuring and mixing them by hand. This frees up your time so you can focus on your plants instead. Fertigation has been borrowed from the mainstream horticulture industry and customized for the idiosyncrasies of cannabis growth.
One of the advantages of fertigation over enriched planting mixes or dry fertilizer is that it allows for complete customization of dissolved nutrients. Fluctuating environmental conditions mean that plants use nutrients in different ways. For example, in a greenhouse environment where temperatures can rise and fall, and available light can vary in intensity, plants will need more nitrogen to keep growing fast when temperatures are cooler and light is low. Fertigation allows for complete customization of dissolved nutrients, which maximizes plant growth at all times.
Fertigation can be incorporated into your existing watering system easily. Drip lines, flood and drain systems, capillary mats, flood tables, and even wicking systems can all benefit from the precise nutrient delivery that fertigation offers. Fully water-soluble nutrients are preferred as a means of keeping lines clean. However, as long as the system is well-filtered and flushed regularly, organics like compost teas and insoluble additives can be used.
The difference in nutrient demands between vegetation and flowering can be quite drastic. Fertigation makes the transition from one type of solution to another simple. Whereas time-release fertilizers and organic additives can only be partially flushed away—as some insoluble salts remain in the medium—fertigation allows for a completely clean rinse as the nutrients are already dissolved in water. Once flushed, simply begin feeding the new mix. This eliminates the need to compensate for any undissolved salts that may throw off the EC (electrical conductivity).
Fertigation is similar to hydroponics in that nutrients are delivered via water. However, instead of using inert substrates like rockwool, vermiculite, and perlite, fertigation systems use organic substrates like coconut coir mixes. Organic grow media contain a high concentration of carbon compounds, which act as a buffer. These compounds lightly bind with nutrients and slowly release them as the medium becomes more diluted. Buffering makes it easier to maintain the best conditions for cannabis growth without the precision required in pure hydroponic setups.
There are a few things that need particular attention when using a fertigation system. Inline filters in the irrigation system must be included immediately after the injectors to prevent clogs from fine particles found in organics and compost teas. Regular flushing of the system at the end of every cycle is recommended to keep lines free from buildup.
While fertigation can constitute an added cost when designing an irrigation system for cannabis, the costs are quickly recouped through increased productivity and efficiency. Quality and growth consistency are maintained over a whole crop with less likelihood for human error. Manpower can be more efficiently distributed, and scheduling can be tighter.
In conclusion, increasing sophistication in automation has lights, fans, irrigation, nutrient mixing, and environmental parameters all monitored and controlled automatically. Fertigation brings us one step closer to the domestic and commercial scalability plug-and-play marijuana growing machine we all dream about. Keep your plants happy and healthy with fertigation!