Sustainable cannabis growing has a “triple bottom line” value.
It’s strange that growing a plant as beneficial as cannabis puts a greater strain on natural resources than other crops. Legalization, fortunately, is paving the road for more ecologically responsible production and growing by allowing for more scientific study and allowing cannabis entrepreneurs to publicly explore, test, and exchange best practises.
From breakthroughs in automation technology to time-tested soil management approaches, cannabis farmers and processors now have a plethora of sophisticated tools at our disposal—as well as more compelling reasons to implement these solutions than meets the eye.
The ‘triple bottom line concepts discussed in economics are well within reach of today’s forward-thinking cannabis enterprises. Cannabis leaders can meet people, planet, and financial goals in one fell swoop by adopting holistic organic agricultural practises, embracing new technologies, and factoring carbon footprint into a wider strategy.
Four principles of sustainable cannabis farming for people, profit, and the environment
Cannabis companies have an opportunity to mimic the plant that can do so much good, whether they specialise in natural, plant-based therapies or adult recreational products—or both. With these four sustainability principles, you may increase both your global effect and local consumer satisfaction:
If you enrich the soil, you will also improve your products’ quality, flavour, and aroma. Many cannabis growers use synthetic salt-based fertilisers, which pollute the environment and destroy the soil. Others claim to be organic but base their claims on a single addition or two rather than participating in 100% organic soil management. However, as a botanist, I’ve learned both in the lab and in the field that holistic permaculture and organic agricultural practices are better for the planet and the customer.
In a nutshell, the richer the soil, the greater the terpene flavour and scent profiles: Organic farms produce twice as much terpene as conventionally cultivated farms. They also enhance the contrast between strains, providing a rich flavour that lingers even at the bottom of the bowl.
In what way? Start with peat moss and cocoa to help with drainage and aeration, then add organic ingredients like earthworm compost, humus, minerals, bird and bat guanos, and azamite. This rich composition provides the soil with a strong yet permeable architecture, preventing waterlogging. On top of that, we apply a fertiliser blend composed of malted sugar beets, cold-pressed seaweed, and refined kelp regularly. As needed, we also use aloe vera, soy protein, and other nutrient-dense applications such as compost tea.
We produce a healthy rhizosphere surrounding the roots by combining quality components in the appropriate amounts and at the right time, allowing for healthy nutrient and microbial activity and uptake through the stem and leaves, which adds to a more diversified terpene composition.
Improve your water-saving habits. Flushing and water management should not be one-size-fits-all. Most industry professionals adhere to the two-week rule of thumb, which states that two weeks of clean water is sufficient for an appropriate flush, regardless of whether you’re working with salt-based or organic nutrients. However, if the plant is not properly cleansed of resident nutrients during the dormant stage, it might have a grassy or hay scent, which can detract from the overall experience with the product. However, having living soil with the proper nutritional balance, as explained above, improves terpene content as well as product flavour and smoothness. The ash also burns a cleaner, brighter white, which might be a nice surprise for users who haven’t previously encountered cannabis grown in this manner.
Invest in environmentally friendly monitoring, packing, and cleaning solutions that are technologically advanced. Smart, data-driven horticulture systems can assist cannabis enterprises in reducing energy use while promoting optimal growing conditions in real-time. To begin, consider implementing an environmental monitoring system that includes hardware and software for climate control, energy conservation, and efficient water reuse. Install low-voltage sensors throughout the cultivation facility to monitor soil composition, including nutrients and heat and moisture levels. Use artificial intelligence software to process sensor data and make decisions to change nutrient supplies and other adjustments to optimise growing and water utilisation. Customize the technologies to produce perfect settings for each strain, such as tailoring the fertiliser recipe for a certain strain to production goals such as increased THC % or yield.
Furthermore, solar arrays minimise total energy consumption; automated packing equipment lowers product waste and enhances quality; and sterilisation technology protects against powdery mildew, improving quality while minimising the need for pesticides or fungicides.
Use geographical considerations to reduce your carbon footprint. Consider placing your growing and processing equipment in the same building as your retail dispensary. Having a one-stop-shop reduces the carbon footprint of moving goods and personnel from an off-site farm. This “under one roof” method benefits more than just the environment. Customers gain as well when cannabis concierges can readily refer questions to cultivation specialists and vice versa for greater on-demand customer service.
Consider the big picture while assisting communities on a smaller scale.
Cannabis businesses have the potential to deliver vital services to our communities. We may also help mitigate the consequences of climate change by retaining more carbon in the soil, lowering energy emissions, and preserving water resources through sustainable practises like those indicated above.
Let us use the greatest environmental practises to benefit the communities and businesses we serve, and together we will construct a triple bottom line success storey that benefits everyone.