Karhlyle Fletcher   |   December 09, 2019

Super Soils Save Money and See Super Harvests

The best technologies don't work against nature, but with it.
A passionate Detroit local, Karhlyle works everyday to establish ethical access to information on the national and city level. Medical, as well as technical research, is a driving passion of his, but he is also a published fiction author,…

Pursuing ideal mineral balance in your soil is a low-tech method to get the most out of growing any crop. Super soils do not aim to replace nature; rather, they enable what already exists.

A Rebel From Nearly A Century Ago Planted The Seeds Of Intelligently Engineered Soils

The name to remember is William Albrecht, the foremost authority on how mineral balance in soils affects the crops which grow in them. America freely used cheap and effective fertilizer available to the country in the wake of World War II, ignoring the effects this had on the crops. It was Albrecht who said, “insects and disease are the symptoms of a failing crop, not the cause of it. It’s not the overpowering invader we must fear, but the weakened condition of the victim.” His work set the stage for the development of super soils and healthy harvests.

Pests and rot threaten any harvest of cannabis or hemp, especially those who choose to cultivate outdoors. But as Albrecht saw, this is not the reason for failure, but the symptom of failing. With the correct nutrient balance, ph levels, and beneficial insects such as stratiolaelaps scimitus, crops have survived hazards that ruined other grows. Correctly produced super soils provide all of these conditions. 

Also, super soils are recyclable through crop rotation. Reusing soil saves up to 60% on production costs, according to Bart Eller. Eller is the director of Paonia Soil, producers of the number one soil recommended for growing hemp by the Colorado Hemp Institute

Traditional Farming Isn't For The Lazy

While many cultivators swear by soluble salts that directly allow cannabis access to nutrients, they aren't listening to nature. Using super soils creates an environment where crops control nitrogen intake. Beneficial insects also limit pests in these soils. Farming with salts requires reactive treatments of remediation and pesticide application. Farming with soil requires proactive labor.

Creating the ideal soil isn't easy. Eller was involved in complex systems analysis before he started studying soils. His team built the first broadband ISP in North Fork, Colorado, which was one of the first ISPs in Colorado 20 years ago. Also, Eller worked with a partner to put the first broadband ISP in Angola. "It's a lot of the same type of stuff," he explained in an interview with Cannabis Tech. "What keeps many people from delving into this is that it's so complicated it's hard to understand. For whatever reason, that's what I can offer folks. I can take a complex system and simplify it for people, but only through standing on the shoulders of people like Albrecht." 

Not only does it take as gifted a thinker as Eller to create the ideal soil, but he certainly didn't master this alone. "Living in North Fork, which is the center of organic agriculture at least in Colorado, if not the country, helped a lot. There's a higher concentration of organic farmers here than anywhere in the state of Colorado,” he explained. “One of my buddies who works for Google, a hacker, coder type, also has Round Earth Organic Farms and grows amazing TSA stuff for people. Having this culture where we're always like, "oh, look at that. Well, how about this? Well, Albrecht said this. This guy said that," and seeing people spend $10,000 on a truckload of Sunshine, which comes in aerobic and with no nutrients in it showed us how low the bar was. That flower was different every time. We made something significantly better than that."

The Rainforest Floor Model As Envisioned By Paonia Soil

In addition to including insects like stratiolaelaps scimitus and steinernema feltiae nematodes in their soils, Paonia encourages farmers to pursue biodiversity. "We're trying to emulate nature," Eller explained. "I'm trying to recreate the rainforest floor. People forget nobody feeds the rainforest, and it creates more biomass than any biome there is." 

Several cultivators who rely on Paonia Soil's products, such as the smart pot, use the soil bag itself as a bed. Eller recommends clover as a crop to grow with cannabis or hemp to crowd out weeds. Clover also draws free nitrogen from the air into the soil, which cannabis absorbs as needed. 

"I would personally recycle the soil for another cannabis grow," Eller stated. "Rotating crops regenerates the nutrients. You can add in the beneficials to make sure they patrol the super soil and get rid of pests. After using a crop that's not a mono-crop and the pests are cleaned out, then the soil is ready to use." 

After purchasing the super soil offered by Paonia, cultivators don't need to watch out for much. Growers need to manage PH levels, add compost, and add nutrients for demanding strains. Paonia also offers beneficial insects.

"Every award one of our growers wins is another affirmation Abretch was right," Eller declared.

 

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