When it comes to cannabis growing, fierce debates are going on regarding the ways of mitigating the environmental impact of both indoor and outdoor growing. Alongside these debates, growers are often even wondering whether sustainable cannabis farming is possible to achieve considering the immense resource consumption, mostly pertaining to electricity, water, and soil. We are here to shed light on alternative, sustainable growing methods. On the AskGrowers platform, you can find many guides written by experts practicing cannabis growing on their own and we’re ready to reveal the most efficient sustainable cannabis growing methods. Check them out!
Why do we need to aim for sustainability?
Understanding that former practices of growing cannabis were (and still are) responsible for an immense environmental impact due to power consumption, water usage, and pollution of wastewater, the question of sustainability has become an exceptionally topical issue. With a shocking amount of electricity used to support the commercial growing industry across the United States, the costs of maintaining a homegrow can also be expensive for growers. Many growers are becoming more concerned with caring for the plant and a few marketing trends of sustainable growth are helping to change the mood.
One of the most noticeable changes was a series of debates regarding the merits and flaws of outdoor and indoor growing. As legal cannabis markets mature, the more growers join the market. It basically means that the bottom line of running a business gets pinched due to increased competitiveness in the field, whereas growers slowly but surely look forward to cutting expenses and unnecessary facilities responsible for pollution or power use.
Some of the most innovation-driven trends that shine bright right now are light-emitting diode (LED) lights, computer-controlled cooling, and advanced ventilation systems. For outdoor growing, some farmers have introduced a modern growing technology called a “closed-loop.” Some individuals are more prone to growing cannabis in AeroGarden, while others are trying to discover and re-invent organic growing methods used in other industries. It seems that an overall thrive for cutting an environmental impact of cannabis growing coincides with dozens of marketing trends of “going green” and reaching “sustainability.” Let’s consider a few practical examples of sustainable options for cannabis growing.
Growing cannabis in a greenhouse
If you’ve heard anything about growing cannabis in a greenhouse, you’re definitely a progressive grower or consumer. Greenhouses are relatively cheap, available, and year-round facilities for cultivating cannabis. Their main merits are the opportunities of harnessing solar power, exposure to a warm climate, and the protection of gardens from improper lighting disposal or excessive diesel generation.
Any greenhouse basically works like a container, where solar radiation passes through transparent walls, heating soil and plants even during the cold temperatures. One of the most incredible merits of growing cannabis in a greenhouse is energy conservation. Growing outdoors with a greenhouse is much cheaper than any form of indoor growing, especially since you can cut electricity costs and water use for indoor growth.
Growing cannabis in AeroGarden
AeroGarden is a unique device, presenting an established system for growing herbs, peppers, tomatoes, and greens. Modern cannabis growers are obviously more concerned with its properties for growing cannabis, which this system is perfectly capable of doing. Since all AeroGardens work as hydroponic devices, you can grow a plant or two of your favorite kush using nutrient solutions like water and fertilizers to hydrate your plants. AeroGarden works as a drip system, which is a perfect solution for minimizing production levels as well as planting a small-scale yield.
Although the merits of growing your preferred cultivar with AeroGarden are far-reaching, including decent yield and ease of use, you won’t be able to bring your yield to commercial scale. A relatively low yield, even from a few AeroGardens, means that this sustainable practice is ideal for individual consumers who like trying something new and, most importantly, sustainable.
Outdoor “closed-loop” approach
There are dozens of indoor and greenhouse ways of growing cannabis which have proven efficiencies. By far, a “closed-loop” approach, which relies upon a system where everything goes back into the land, including nutrient mixes, composts, pest repellents, and excrement from farm animals. Within this practice of sustainable growth, no waste or significant environmental impact can be traced.
Some of the large-scale commercial growers, however, shy away from using this approach by arguing its inefficiency on a larger scale. Conversely, a few cases of successful commercial operations can be found across the United States, where these farmers claim that closed-loops and self-reliance are the approach’s main merits. Regarding the economic implications of this practice, we can say that starting such an operation from scratch is entirely economically viable, whereas reconfiguring your growing site can be costly and time-consuming.
What is CHP? Is it a California Highway Patrol? In terms of sustainable cannabis growing practices, CHP stands for combined heat and power. This is an energy-efficient technology that generates electricity and captures the heat that would otherwise be wasted. By using the regenerated thermal energy, such as steam or hot water, CHP is a tool that is used in heating one’s house or producing electricity on a commercial scale.
What can become a disclaimer in terms of using CHP for sustainable cannabis growing is that it has a 3- to 5-year payback. If you have a solid background in cannabis growing and are looking to reduce power consumption in the long-term, CHP offers a great solution. Although just a minor tool, CHP allows growers to maximize energy use, one of the greatest sources of environmental pollution associated with cannabis growing.
Organic, organic, organic
Without a doubt, organic practices are intrinsic parts of sustainable cannabis growing. Not only can they make the growing of a plant greener and your garden or plantation more sustainable, but organic cannabis can help save money in the long-run. Organic cannabis is potentially less expensive than any of the intensive indoor or outdoor cultivation technologies.
The potential limitations of this sustainable practice are economic costs associated with a transition to organic soil, pesticides, and natural fertilizers, which are an obvious expense. Incorporation of organic practices with organic pest control techniques can result in fascinating outcomes for performing a full-scale transition to organic gardening.
Examples of successful transitions to sustainable growing practices
It’s just the right time to share a few personal stories of growers who managed to transition from old to newer and more sustainable cannabis growing methods at ease. Jesse Peters from Oregon, for instance, has managed to switch to new sources of energy, such as wind power, to power his greenhouse. As he states in a brief interview, he realizes that almost ninety percent of carbon dioxide emissions are produced from power use. That’s why using solar and wind energy have proven to be consistent ways of cutting environmental damage as well as achieving a goal of more sustainable cannabis growing.
One of the most representative cases relates to the uses of the closed-loop approach. Ryan Jennemann, a grower from California, has managed to implement this method of production by reusing all inputs of cannabis production, including water, nutrients, and other natural resources. What is more intriguing in his case was that he started experimenting with this approach by using an aquarium. It might be a brilliant case for all growers, who can check out new sustainable technologies on a small-scale before starting their implementation in their operations.
Another successful story related to a closed-loop approach is voiced by Mark Simpkins, a chief cultivator at Sacred Flower Farms in southern Oregon who claims that a closed-loop approach can be perfectly used for cannabis growing, alongside other herbs, peppers, and flowers. Mark realizes that large-scale commercial producers are unlikely to switch to this technique because of hardships related to the reconfiguration of all cannabis production. Despite this, he is firmly assured that even large-scale producers are capable of reusing all the natural resources to make cannabis production sustainable in the long run.
Also the Hawaiian cultivator, Hawaiian Ethos, has implemented sustainable growing practices including sungrown cannabis and even sustainable packaging.
The process of transforming a cannabis production niche is an ongoing procedure. The ways of implementing sustainable approaches and techniques are many, ranging from AeroGarden and closed-loop, to organic resources, modern greenhouses, and advanced CHP technologies. We work hand-in-hand with people who not only aim to make profits on cannabis production but also farm sustainable cannabis that helps make our planet ecologically and environmentally greener.
If you are still hesitant about how to start implementing sustainable techniques by yourself, decent starting points are purchasing LED lights, a few AeroGardens, or trying to reuse water in your garden. Regardless of your production scale, we are firmly assured that going green is a trend that any grower can follow without economic hardships.
That said, we will continually work on encouraging growers to cooperate for the sake of making our planet great again. Join us!