The US cannabis industry has become one of the fastest growing markets, with an overall increase in sales of 29.9 billion USD from 2015-2022. This growth has sparked interest from other markets, allowing for an increase in innovation from a technical standpoint and overall cultivation techniques used to grow high-quality, consistently high-yield produce. One practice starting to get implemented more commonly in the sector is fertigation. Cannabis fertigation offers tremendous benefits regarding dosing management, resource optimization, and, most importantly, consistency. Let's dive in deeper to learn more about how your cannabis farm can benefit from this new era of agricultural technology.
What is fertigation?
Simply put, fertigation is a process that combines fertilization and irrigation. Nutrients are injected into an irrigation system to help aid in the reduction of water needed, absorption of vital nutrients, and overall reduced runoff.
How does cannabis fertigation work?
A fertigation system precisely doses balanced nutrient recipes directly to plants or batch tanks. Because a fertigation system's primary job is accurate nutrient delivery, the more advanced options will have targeted EC and pH adjustment. PH and EC sensors are typically placed inline to alert the system if there are discrepancies in actual output vs. what is programmed. The system will then automatically adjust the proportions of nutrient injection based on the sensor feedback to guarantee optimal, consistent output.
Fertigation benefits for the cannabis sector.
From a horticultural standpoint, cannabis requires the same nutrients as other commercial crops. The only difference is the unique nutrient ratios required, irrigation frequencies, and variations based on the different stages of growth. Implementing a fertigation system in a cannabis cultivation facility provides immense benefits, including:
- Reduced labor costs
Another benefit of fertigation systems is reduced labor costs and time. Because most fertigation systems are automated, it reduces the amount of time and physical workers needed to:
- Mix nutrients
- Water crops
- Test pH/EC levels
Though the system does require maintenance to keep things running smoothly, it's nothing compared to the time saved by implementing it. Additionally, it reduces human error. When hand mixing fertilizers, it is easy to accidentally add too much or too little of a certain nutrient, causing an imbalance. When hand watering crops without substrate sensors, it's almost impossible to tell when the plant has received enough water until it is too late and runoff has begun. When utilizing an automated fertigation system, these issues become a thing of the past.
- Precise pH control
All cultivators should understand that pH control is essential to guarantee optimal nutrient absorption. With a fertigation system, you can ensure your feeds stay in the desired range thanks to:
- Inline pH sensors - These sensors help the fertigation system accurately measure live pH levels in the nutrient feed by reporting the data and allowing adjustments to be made on the fly.
- Auto pH throttling – When the system receives data that the pH is either too high or too low, the algorithm sends a signal to the pH dosing pump to either increase or decrease its pumping frequency, allowing for the desired pH levels to be maintained. Certain vital nutrients cannot be uptaken by the plant when the pH is outside of a specific range, causing what is known as pH or nutrient lockout to occur. Because this automated process allows for stable pH dosing, it greatly reduces the chance of this lockout.
- Better nutrient and water-use efficiency
Cannabis requires properly balanced ratios of macronutrients and micronutrients to perform optimally. With the cost of agricultural materials and equipment increasing yearly, obtaining maximum efficiency has never been so important. No fertigation system is complete without the use of substrate monitoring probes. These probes offer live insight into the plant's root zone, supplying moisture content, EC, and temperature data to the fertigation system. This allows your system only to use what is needed, no more, no less. Substrate data can provide knowledge of when enough nutrient water has been supplied, so excess nutrients are not wasted down the drain, literally. As a result, it lowers total wastage and ensures the plants have exactly what they need to thrive.
Where to begin?
Growlink specializes in fertigation and nutrient delivery. Our Fertigation system provides flexibility to choose how you feed. Whether filling multiple batch tanks or feeding directly to your plant's irrigation zones, the Growlink Fertigation Skid can accurately and precisely dose limitless recipes allowing you to automate your entire irrigation strategy from seedling to harvest. If you want to achieve higher yields, better quality crops, and a boost in efficiency, we can help by offering the following:
- Perfect pH/EC adjustment - Set the target pH and EC in your recipe, and Growlink will throttle up or down to hit your targets and adjust for fluctuation in the water supply.
- Unlimited programmable nutrient recipes – Program unlimited nutrient recipes utilizing an easy-to-use industry-standard ml/gallon format while also allowing you to set your target PPM and pH.
- Automated valve control - Add unlimited master and zone valves to the fertigation controller or remote IO panels. Open valves based on sensor triggers or timers. Feed multiple zones at the same time.
- Irrigate based on substrate sensor feedback – We offer state-of-the-art substrate monitoring sensors to report real-time water content, EC, and temperature readings to our platform.
- Automate batch tank replenishment – Tank level sensors seamlessly integrate into our fertigation skid, allowing live tank level monitoring and automated autofill rule creation.
At Growlink, we offer many services that optimize your growth. Contact one of our knowledgeable representatives today to learn more about how we can help you grow.