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(This is an abridged version of a story that appears in the March issue of Marijuana Business Magazine.)
Marijuana cultivators who hope to graduate beyond premixed fertilizers and bagged dirt are increasingly moving toward an alternative way to grow healthier plants and save money: living soil.
Living soil is often thought of as planting material that centers on compost and has an active microbiology and biodiversity, which can include worms and their castings, protozoa, healthy bacteria, amoebas, kelp extracts and even glacial rock dust.
Cultivators who create a biodiverse growing media don’t need to rely on fertilizers because microbes eat and digest compounds that create bioavailable fertilizers.
As a result, those growers also report larger yields and better terpenes.
Creating your own living soil can eliminate the need for costly bottled nutrients and, according to some growers, lead to plants so healthy that pesticides are also unnecessary because robust cannabis plants can naturally fend for themselves.
“If you’re trying to build a business, and you’re trying to build something that’s going to last and be profitable, living soil is by far the most cost-effective way to be around in 20 years,” said Dave Perkins, lead cultivator for The Emerald Cup, a vertically integrated cannabis firm in Santa Rosa, California, that’s best known for its namesake cannabis competition.
Marijuana Business Magazine spoke with several experts about their experiences with living soil.
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