How Custom Fertigation and Nutrient Blends Benefit Your Grow
There are plenty of ways for cultivators to control the quality and output of their cannabis plants, and as the legal industry continues to expand and grow more competitive, it’s important to be able to optimize cannabis nutrients for the purest, highest-quality results possible.
A popular and highly scientific method more cultivators are turning to is cannabis fertigation: the process of injecting nutrients into your marijuana plants via the irrigation system at whatever rate you’d like, depending on the desired results.
What is Cannabis Fertigation?
When it comes to growing cannabis, cultivators are flocking to cannabis fertigation systems as a great option for producing quality crops with higher yields and optimizing plants’ growth.
Cannabis fertigation is a premier nutrient delivery service for your plants, introducing vital organic nutrients to the growing life cycle to ensure you’re producing quality products without an increase in labor costs or supply costs.
There are a few different approaches to take within the fertigation vertical, but essentially, this approach involves providing your cannabis plants with water and nutrients in a way that purposely optimizes their growth and overall quality.
Plants tend to grow faster with this method, as delivering plant nutrients via water is absorbed by the root systems much more quickly than when they’re delivered through the growing mediums.
Cultivators can also automate fertigation or utilize high-frequency fertigation, which allows for consistent delivery of nutrients (up to five times per day) via water throughout the various stages of the growing operation.
Types of Cannabis Fertigation Systems
The type of fertigation system you choose to utilize will depend entirely on your needs as a grower.
One of the biggest things to consider is size: how big you want your grow operation to be, and how much output you want to come away with at the end of your harvest.
If you’re a small, independent grower who prefers to be as hands-on as possible with your crops, a hand-batch fertigation system will be ideal for you. This system requires a lot of hands-on involvement, as you’ll be handling one type of fertilizer or nutrient at a time.
These types of machines have to be adjusted and calibrated by hand, and if your plants have different nutrients or fertilizer requirements, you’ll have to adjust all of that by hand as well. Again, this is ideal for growers who enjoy really digging in and being as closely involved in the growing process as possible, but for larger-scale operations going for a super high yield, this won’t be your best option.
Instead, large-scale cultivators will want to utilize higher-end machines, which are more costly but also much more reliable when it comes to automatic fertigation. This level of machinery can handle several nutrient recipes at a time, and may even come with software interfaces with the ability to control climate, alarm growers if something goes awry, and even stop operating if the alarm isn’t responded to in time.
For a large cultivation team with a lot of moving parts and a high amount of demand, investing in a more expensive fertigation system will pay off in the long run. These higher-scale systems can range anywhere from $5,000-$50,000 depending on what you’re looking for, so it’s important to do your research in order to ascertain what will work best for your needs.
A great option for larger cultivation teams is automated fertigation systems, which can save you time and money when you’re growing cannabis. With automated fertigation systems, the water and nutrient delivery can be scheduled ahead of time and executed without you having to monitor it too closely, which is ideal for large grow rooms going for high output.
Best Cannabis Nutrients for Each Stage of Plant Growth
Besides regular plant food, fertigation allows you to add a variety of cannabis nutrients to your crop, and depending on which stage of the growth cycle your plants are in, different nutrients will be required for ultimate success.
The big thing you want to avoid here is nutrient deficiency, which can easily occur if you’re not careful. Paying close attention to your plants and ensuring they have the right nutrients to thrive is essential for coming away with a quality product.
It can be overwhelming to know where to begin with cannabis nutrients, but breaking things down by growth stage can be really helpful.
The cannabis vegetative stage, which lasts anywhere from 3-16 weeks depending on the plant, is where the growth of your plant really takes off. During this stage, your plant will begin to require a little more attention to detail when it comes to nutrients – specifically nitrogen, which will help your plants with stem, branch, and leaf growth.
Generally, any nutrient pack with the word “grow” in the name will be ideal for the vegetative stage.
The cannabis flowering stage, which lasts around 7-9 weeks, is the closest to harvest you’ll get. At this point, your plants will require less sunlight per day, along with 10-12-hour periods of complete darkness.
As for nutrients, you’ll need to feed your plants more phosphorus and potassium, which encourage bud growth as opposed to leaf, branch, and stem expansion. These will typically come in nutrient packs with the word “bloom” somewhere on the label and are the “P” and “K” to the N-P-K growing system cultivators know and love.
Best Cannabis Fertilizers
To fertilize cannabis is to feed it the above-required nutrients throughout the growth cycle, and depending on your location, budget, and general preference, there are quite a few options that can work for you.
For small-batch farmers who are more likely to be hands-on with their growing approach, organic fertilizer is a great option. Produced naturally with sources like limestone, manure or guano, seaweed extract, or compost, organic fertilizer is sustainable, good for the environment, and a great natural option for your plants.
While organic options are definitely more environmentally friendly, they can also take longer to be absorbed by your plants, so if you’re going for a high yield at a quick pace, this won’t be ideal for you. However, if you’re chasing quality with no real interest in a high amount of quantity (or a short amount of growth time), organic fertilizer is a great option for your fertigation schedule.
Synthetic chemical fertilizer
As the name might suggest, synthetic fertilizers are further away from nature than organic options but can be great for plants with strict dietary needs. Designed with precise N-P-K ratios and macro- and micronutrients for each stage of the growth process, synthetic fertilizers are ideal for cultivators who want to grow their plants quickly without sacrificing health and quality.
Synthetic fertilizers will likely be preferred by larger grow operations looking to output a large amount of cannabis at a time, as they allow for high yields of large, sticky buds at a quick pace. This is a particularly popular option for hydroponic growers.
Unfortunately, this route also comes with the risk of overfertilization, which can cause nutrient burn and damage or kill your plants. It’s important to follow the instructions and schedule for this type of fertilizer very closely to avoid this from happening.
Custom fertigation and nutrient blends—they key to higher yields
Cannabis requires consistent, high-quality inputs in order to achieve maximum yields. Custom nutrient and fertigation blends can provide plants with exactly what they need at the various growth stages, and provide growers the opportunity to adjust as needed.
Automated fertigation systems allow cultivators to further dial in feeding schedules and recipes, ensuring each plant has the precise nutrients required at any given time.
Want to learn more about what automated fertigation can do to boost your crop health? Contact AI Grow's team of horticulture engineers today.