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Hydroponic vs soilless vs soil?

Everyone has their opinions, and this is meant to be an emotionless discussion on the different ways you can grow Cannabis. I chose RDWC Hydroponics for many factors, most importantly because I live on an island in Alaska. We have very poor soil, extreme cold, 18 hours of daylight half the year followed by 18 hours of darkness the rest of the year. I also live 8 miles past the closest connection to municipal water so I collect rainwater with a catchment system. There’s plenty of factors that make my grow facility unique in comparison to yours, which is why I’m growing hydroponically instead of organically in soil. At some point as I learn more about growing I know I’ll get into soil a little more. I’m currently growing about 25 plants in soil and the other 75 in Hydro. Both are doing well, but the Hydro plants dwarf the Soil plants. Yield and quality are the two most important factors in my business. If I find one type of growing is hands down better, I’ll naturally move in that direction. My Hydro plants are 6ft tall trees with stems that look like baseball bats, my soil plants are about 30 inches tall and beautiful in all ways, just not as large. My first harvest in this grow facility will be in September. I’d be happy to share test results between hydro and soil, just to see what the variance is. I’ll have Terpene and Potency results, and I have at least one strain that’s growing in both mediums.

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Gary I would love to get you some product to work with…we currently have a hydroponic trial going with Jim Parco founder of the NACB and owner of Mesa Organics in his recycled glass low input LED system at his dispensary…we would love to gather more results in this area… Maybe you could run a trial in a percentage of both your soil and hydro setups? If interested shoot me a pm with your address and we will get some URB out to Alaska right away…if it was more towards summer and there were not so many extreme lighting variables to account for I would love for you to try growing in the ground out there in that poor soil :grinning: we have a lot of research in this area and I think you would find great success…navigating the extremes of season and sunlight is something of a nightmare however and I understand that this would not be feasible for you. Let me know if you are interested.

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It’s not opinion, it’s factual. It’s not emotional, it’s the truth… you can quantify it scientifically.

I’ve worked in agriculture and Cannabis, professionally for many years. Sometimes the truth hurts. The fact is, most cannabis growers in the industry are not doing it right and only focused on numbers rather than the end user or preserving the environment.

If you are getting subpar results organically, you’re probably not doing it right. There’s a learning curve for everyone. This is where organizations like ours come in.

And it doesn’t matter where you are. In Alaska, Antarctica, even the Sahara desert. You can grow organically in soil anywhere. I’d be more concerned about run off in those areas, though. Imagine the impact the chemicals are having on the local ecosystem…

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I’d certainly like to participate. This sounds interesting. I’ll PM you.

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@goliathgrow (Stephen). It sounds like you have a lot of experience and know what you’re talking about. I’d be more interested if we had this conversation 5 months ago, but I’m already down this road for better or worse. That’s not to say I can’t change course at some point, but I’m already on the road of trial and error. There’s a lot of advice out there from experts who’ve grown in every medium. It’s hard to make informed decisions when everyone claims their way is the best. I’m going to be doing my own testing, using different mediums and growing methods. I’ll believe it when I see it.

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There’s no runoff at my facility btw. Any wastewater that’s collected is transported to the municipal sewage treatment facility. In the three months I’ve been growing in my facility I only have about 50 gallons in the 300 gallon collection tote. Most of this is simply mop water, and water from hand washing. A large percentage of the water used for my plants is recycled through dehumidifiers and AC units.

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I can definitely relate as a home gardener. Bad soil conditions can be remedied, but it takes a lot of work and time – which may not be profitable, at least at first. I know here in AZ, the soil is extremely rocky and full of sand and clay. My best gardening came after I spent a few weeks digging out rocks, tree stumps, and other unpleasantness and then mixed the dirt with some good soil to encourage the right microbes to grow.

Then by the same token, you have to spend time to maintain the soil conditions - the dryness in AZ meant I had to water empty ground to keep it in the same good condition. I imagine the low temperatures in AK would require cover crops to keep the soil warm during your off-seasons.

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It wasn’t dry last night :slight_smile: (im sure someone will hop on the that’s what she said)

Anyways Hunter,

I am around tuscon for a little while longer. I have a bunch of bottles on URB on hand… I’ve been throwing mixes in my father in laws home garden plants around the property and even he…who is not a plant person at all and usually forgets to water them noticed their vigor. We have studies in extreme conditions of heat and high salinity with great success. I mean that is our MO is helping third world countries reclaim the soil which our US fertilizer and industrialization, commercialization helped to destroy…helping them to produce good crops and sustain their livelihood and help to sustain our world food needs. We were created for commercial agriculture. After URB kicks off we will be starting another line under a different label directed at Home and Garden Supplies. One my fellow board members created EcoSmart organic pesticides and has all the lines on the home depots and other major retailers. I would kick you some product to work with with all your gardening if you ever wanted to meet up like a quick craigslist style exchange. I know the boys down at the shop have a bunch of small bottles too.

Point is for traditional home and gardening in this crappy soil and conditions I think URB would help with your microbial populations significantly.

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Hey Hunter! I haven’t looked too deeply into outdoor growing as we’re surrounded by what we call “Muskeg”. Basically it’s a boggy swamp, very spongy with varying depths from 4-20 ft down to hard clay. There’s very little local topsoil available, people have tried unsuccessfully to use it to grow lawns. Too much acidity and iron I think. It’s great for Blueberries and Cranberries though which grow in abundance everywhere around the island. I’d like to build a Hybrid Gutter Connect Greenhouse facility at some point in the future, but I’d need to have hydronic heating and light deprivation in order to make it work. It would probably work out well here with the long daylight hours half the year. Here’s some pictures of Muskeg. We have to drive wood pilings into the ground until we hit hard pan whenever we build. We test the depth first by shoving rebar or ground rods down into the muskeg to see how far down to the clay layer. You have to be careful when walking in the muskeg because you can take a step and sink down past your head. :slight_smile:

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sure is beautiful though…

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Yeah, monsoon desert is about the only time it isn’t dry. :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ll definitely talk with the boys in the shop about giving it a try. :slight_smile:

Ah yeah. That is not a friendly environment for outdoor growing. All that acid in the soil probably doesn’t favor very friendly microbes either.

Still, it’s gorgeous!

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Before rock wool was used, Scoria has been used as a growth medium in hydroponics. You can find references that predates the term hydroponics, for the use of scoria in orchid production from the 1890’s in England. I can find a citation if you wish. I used scoria in the 1990’s for sweetpea production. The advantage of scoria is first cost, it’s really cheep. Second for larger plants scoria helps support the roots. Another advantage of scoria is air to volume ratios. The scoria does not stay too wet. Rock wool can get water logged.

You can collect your affluent and recycle. You need to be a bit of a chemist to monitor nutrition levels in your water. At some point you run into the problem of sodium. At this point you need to discard the water. I have some notes concerning water born fungus, but I would have to hunt for them. Basically you have the same problems as you do with soilless mixes.

Remember red scoria and not black scoria. You can have issues with magnesium toxicity with black scoria.

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Hey guys,
Is anyone still active on this forum or thread? I would love to have a real conversation with growers who are interested in discussing our reusable, soilless grow medium that saves a significant amount of water.
We are looking for cultivators who have an interest in eliminating waste and significantly reducing water consumption in the cultivation of cannabis, specifically.
If you have dedicated R&D within your facility, we would be happy to send you enough of our soilless, loose virgin stonewool product and inputs to conduct a test grow. You must be able to track water consumption, nutrient usage, and give informed feedback on the reusability of the product and your thoughts as an experienced grower.
Would be grateful for any responses and willingness to join us on this journey.
Hope to hear from you soon,
Todd
See our product at: www.growpito.com
For other commentary on the use of our product in a closed loop aquaponic system, please see the post from our friend Darryl operating in California at: The Benefits of Running a 20 Plant per Light Setup in a Closed Loop Aquaponic System

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Soil can grow just as large and fast, I promise. You are just experiencing a learning curve. I think it often comes down to air circulation in the root zone. Try to increase drainage, porosity (more aeration amendments), and microbial life. Stunted/smaller plants are often just too wet for too long. Do you have any pictures? Nitrogen availability could be a factor as well (which could also be related to soil moisture). Don’t give up on it!

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i do a soiless soil hybrid. a supersoil hybrid. hydro a crap lol. soiless is the way

TERRA PRETA IS THE WAY

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i would be interested i have one more grow before i need to ammend. let me know if you are interested

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Can anyone weigh on Veg bloom RO/Soft and Shine additive from hydroponics research. How are these products from quality point of view? And are there any licensed producers using the same without having any issues (high in heavy metals to be one).

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I can tell you Dakine 420 has some of the lowest on the market for Heavy Metals. We are along the same Idea as Vegbloom being a soluble product. However, Our prices are better and you would be amazed at the production we produce over them as well. PM me for some samples and info on the line. I can also get you in touch with some growers that run our products. That way you can hear it from them as well.

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