The cannabis industry has exploded, and the environment has taken a hit. Many lawmakers have sought to make sure mammoth growers like Canopy, Aphria and Aurora comply with environmental standards through more enforcement, but micro farms and home growers need to consider this as well.
Environmentally-minded innovators are coming up with tons of ways to grow bud without messing up the planet’s water supply. Cannabis is an especially water-hungry plant. It takes up to 23 liters of water per plant each day. And when you’re growing legal marijuana in Canada, indoors, that is, all of that water takes a lot of energy to clean and deliver.
Cannabis grown outdoors, although it benefits from rain, isn’t very energy-efficient either. In California’s Emerald Triangle, the eternal sunshine and drought, causes farmers of outdoor cannabis to go through four watersheds of water (138,000 to 192,000 gallons) per day to grow 23,000 and 32,000 marijuana plants.
State laws are now limiting their consumption of water, with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act forcing those taking from these watersheds to find alternative methods of water procurement, like collecting it over the winter and storing it.
But the method that piqued our interest in terms of indoor and greenhouse growing is one called aeroponics. Following NASA’s learning on beans, the ag-tech company GrowX experimented with suspending the cannabis plant by its roots in a moist environment. Water vapour keeps the plant hydrated without the use of soil or potting medium, or hydroponic apparatus.
Aeroponics uses 95% less water than outdoor farming, and 40% less water than indoor hydroponic farms, yet it gets fat yields—sometimes 300% larger than traditionally grown yields which is a WIN-WIN.