Cannabis growing out of thin air? That’s the idea behind aeroponics. This growing concept is becoming increasingly popular in industrial food production due to its environment-friendliness and excellent yields. Furthermore, when it comes to growing cannabis, aeroponic weed can be a fruitful and worthwhile endeavour.
What is aeroponics?
Aeroponics is a sophisticated way of growing plants without using soil as a medium. Instead, the plant roots hang in the air and get their nutrients by being regularly misted with a nutrient-rich solution. This cultivation method is closely inspired by hydroponics, where plants are grown in soilless mediums like coco coir and drenched in nutrient water. Aeroponics takes this further by eliminating any growing medium, subsequently letting the roots develop freely in a protected air container.
However, aeroponic cannabis cultivation is not without its challenges. What you need to succeed is the right equipment, commitment, and, of course, knowledge!
How does cultivating cannabis with aeroponics work?
In an aeroponic system, plants grow and undergo photosynthesis above a soilless medium, illuminated by grow lights. The planting bed covers the reservoir below, featuring pre-cut holes to hold plants securely. Plants in aeroponic systems are supported by net baskets, allowing their roots to grow freely into a chamber below without getting submerged in the nutrient solution.
A tank containing a water-nutrient mixture is located below the baskets, and the roots are periodically misted. This is done using an automated mechanism directly connected to the water pump, which drives a misting solution from a separate reservoir into the chamber. Excess water is collected in a separate drainage reservoir or returned to the main reservoir, depending on how the system is structured.
3 Types of aeroponic cannabis cultivation systems
When exploring the realm of aeroponics, you’ll encounter three primary systems. Choosing the right one primarily depends on your expertise and available resources.
1. Low-Pressure Aeroponics (LPA)
Low-Pressure Aeroponics utilises primary pumps and sprinklers to douse nutrient-rich water onto the cannabis plant roots. One of its significant advantages is its accessibility, and almost everything you need for an LPA setup can be easily procured from local grow shops or gardening centres. As such, this system is popular with beginners and small-scale growers.
2. High-Pressure Aeroponics (HPA)
Scaling up in complexity, the High-Pressure Aeroponics system is for the aficionado. As the name hints, it relies on high-pressure pumps paired with atomisers to disperse 50 microns or less of ultra-fine water droplets onto the roots. The minute size of these droplets ensures enhanced oxygenation for the roots, which in turn boosts growth rates.
3. Fogponics (Ultrasonic Fogger Aeroponics)
Fogponics is the most advanced aeroponic method that transforms water into tiny droplets resembling fog. This technique facilitates faster and healthier growth of plants, both of the plant itself and of the root system. One of the benefits of providing plants with tiny droplets (as small as 5 microns) is that they can penetrate even the finest root structures. This allows nutrients to enter the inner plant structures without water drops sitting on the roots and impeding the oxygen flow.
Aeroponics vs. hydroponics: what is the difference?
Aeroponic farming is a sub-category that has evolved from hydroponics. Although both aeroponics and hydroponics are soilless cultivation methods, they differ in how they deliver nutrients to the plants. With hydroponics, the roots of the cannabis plants are submerged in a solution of water enriched with nutrients. Aeroponic farming keeps plants suspended in the air, providing nourishment via a mist sprayed directly onto the roots.
When evaluating plant health, aeroponics generally has an edge due to its sealed environment, which minimises root exposure to contaminants. Additionally, with roots in the open air, aeroponically-grown plants receive more oxygen, typically resulting in more substantial growth than their hydroponic counterparts. However, just as with soil, aeroponic is less forgiving of mistakes than hydroponics.
Aeroponics vs soil: how do they compare?
There is, of course, nothing wrong with growing your cannabis plants in soil. Soil is a medium that keeps water, air and nutrients ready for the roots to feed. Living soil is also rich in minerals and microbial life, which benefits all plants. One of the great benefits of using soil is that you can add water and nutrients and allow the roots to absorb them naturally. Soil acts as an excellent buffer, providing a conducive environment for plant growth.
On the other hand, soil comes with certain drawbacks as well. To cultivate a large number of plants, one needs a significant amount of soil, which can be both heavy and expensive. Moreover, if you are growing in an area where soil is scarce, you may have to bear the additional cost of purchasing and transporting it. Furthermore, because it is a good provider for all kinds of life, you must deal with unwanted visitors, like fungus gnats, spider mites and malevolent fungi.
To avoid these challenges, looking into a soilless cultivation method like aeroponics might be worthwhile. Aeroponics is a technique that eliminates the need for soil and allows for the distribution of nutrients in exact amounts. When executed accurately, it can result in even more productive growth than soil-based cultivation.
While aeroponics allows for precise nutrient distribution, the absence of soil as a buffer requires careful monitoring of the growing process. For example, imagine pulling a mature plant out of the soil and leaving it without care. It will wither within hours and shows that even the slightest error can result in a complete harvest loss in no time.
8 Advantages of aeroponic cannabis cultivation
Aeroponics for food and crop production is successfully used in drier regions lacking fertile terroir and water. It is also used in the industrial production of agricultural products, where scaling is an essential factor. Be it leafy greens, vegetables like tomatoes, fruits like strawberries, herbs, spices, and flowers — a wide variety of plants thrive in aeroponics. And yes, your favourite green flower can also flourish with aeroponics, producing copious amounts of weed with minimal resources.
So let us check out the eight advantages of cultivating weed using aeroponics:
1. Less use of natural resources
Aeroponic cannabis cultivation eliminates the need for soil and reduces water usage drastically. There is no need for earth or other growing media, because the roots are protected from light and other environmental influences in the container, and the nutrients are applied directly to the plants.
2. Minimal use of water
Aeroponic growing is prevalent in regions where there is a lack of water. Only a tiny amount is used to douse the roots with nutrients. Compared to classic growing methods where you pour large amounts of water into the soil, you can save up to 98% of water with aeroponics.
3. Less waste
Aeroponics is a highly precise technique that minimises resource waste. The water used in this method can be recycled and there is no need for soil, which eliminates any difficulties associated with its disposal.
4. Less space needed
Aeroponic cannabis growing is great for scaling. You should consider going aeroponic if you want maximum harvests in minimal space. By creating a vertical setup, you can grow aeroponic weed with a tiny footprint into great heights. The sky is the limit with aeroponics.
5. Minimised risk of pests
One of the biggest nuisances for aeroponic cannabis cultivation is pests, like flies, lice, and other unwanted visitors. These insects and microorganisms usually grow in the soil. But when there is no soil and excess nutrients, parasites have nowhere to feed.
6. Increased oxygen intake for the plant
Plants need to breathe to grow. In an aeroponic system, the plant’s roots are suspended in the air while being misted with nutrient-rich water. This allows the roots to absorb oxygen directly from the air, which promotes healthier plant growth and faster crop growth rates.
7. Optimal control of nutrient distribution
By applying the liquid nutrients via misting directly to the roots, you always know exactly how much your plants consume. Because the plants grow in an artificial environment where all the factors are controlled, and nothing is left to chance, you can fine-tune the elements as much as you like.
8. Huge harvests possible
With aeroponics, you can achieve some of the largest yields possible. Since you have complete control over all the factors, you can optimise everything to maximise your harvest. Upscaling vertically means growing more plants in less space and with fewer resources. The method of misting the roots also leads to less stress for your plants – energy that goes directly into the forming of the buds.
5 Disadvantages of aeroponic cannabis cultivation
While it sounds fantastic to produce outstanding yields while reducing your soil and water resources, there are some obstacles when choosing the path of aeroponics. This method is only recommended if you have some growing experience because it can be unforgiving.
To begin with aeroponic cannabis cultivation, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of nutrient distribution, technical expertise, and a persistent commitment to the process. You should also be able to handle failures with tolerance and perseverance. Even small mistakes can have immediate consequences, and this is why aeroponics is favoured by professionals and often avoided by hobby growers.
So, let’s explain the main disadvantages of aeroponic weed.
1. Initial cost of equipment
To create a basic aeroponics set-up, you require almost the same equipment as for a typical indoor grow, such as a tent, lights, climate control, and several tools, in addition to the aeroponics equipment (refer to the checklist below). It is recommended that you acquire replacement parts to prevent your plants from suffering if a component malfunctions. Investing in equipment upfront may be necessary, but it can lead to long-term soil and water savings while yielding excellent harvests.
2. Constant electricity supply
When planning the overall cost, it is essential to factor in electricity expenses. In aeroponics, a pump runs continuously to mist the roots with nutrients. The plants can quickly deteriorate and die if the power supply is disrupted.
3. Ongoing maintenance
Like any other setup, aeroponics also experiences potential issues like tubing leakage, pump malfunctions, and clogging of misting heads. As aeroponics is a delicate project, it requires repairs periodically.
4. Technical problems can lead to loss of yield
Envision a plant with its roots exposed, suspended in dry air. The root system is highly vulnerable, and a single failure in your setup can end your entire grow cycle. Even with the best setup and optimal automation, leaving your project unattended for extended periods is not advisable.
5. Immediate consequences
Maintaining the right nutrient concentration is crucial for aeroponic growing. If your nutrient concentration is too high or too low, it can cause plant stress and reduced yields. In some cases, it can even lead to the loss of an entire crop.
Equipment needed for aeroponic cannabis cultivation
Getting into aeroponics is an ambitious project, aimed towards experienced growers. So firstly, let us delve into the checklist of essential equipment needed to start aeroponic cannabis cultivation
- Growing tent — equipped with lights and ventilation like for a regular grow
- Grow lights — use cool LED growing lights so the water does not heat up
- Reservoir tank — improvise with buckets or tubs or get special aeroponic tanks
- Pump — use a hydroponic submersible pump with 80-100 psi minimum to move water from the reservoir to the roots
- Planting bed — should fit lightproof on top of the grow chamber
- Spray nozzles — for misting the roots
- Tubes — to connect the grow chamber, reservoir, and misting apparatus
- Short cycle timer — for programming misting intervals
- Net pots — meshed plant containers to let the roots grow
- Ventilation and cooling fan — for the tent and inside the growing chamber
- Training clips — to keep your plants in place
- High-quality cannabis seeds — which you can grab in our store
A step-by-step to set up an aeroponics system
Once you have all the necessary equipment, it is time to follow our step-by-step guide on creating a basic aeroponic setup.
1. Choose your system according to your budget
As previously mentioned, there are three types of aeroponics systems, each catering to a different market. If you are on a low budget, a DIY low-pressure aeroponic (L.P.A.) system would be ideal, as the components can easily be found in any garden centre or grow shop.
2. Define your grow space
Aeroponic cannabis cultivation can be space-saving, especially if you want to scale and go vertical. You can use a grow tent or build your own space from scratch. Choose a location that is easily accessible and has enough space to accommodate the expected size of your plants. Ensure that you have access to electricity and water supply. Some elements to consider when planning your grow space are:
- An extra utility shelf within the tent for accessibility of tools and equipment.
- Structural supports and reinforcements, like space booster poles.
- Plant support netting to improve light coverage and keep plant growth lower if needed.
3. Assemble the reservoir
When creating your reservoir for your plants, it’s essential to consider the space and size of the plants you want to grow. You can create a reservoir within the same enclosed area as your plants, but it’s crucial to maintain the water at a certain level without the roots touching it. To start, you can use a bin or bucket with a fitting lid. It’s important to ensure the reservoir is completely shielded from light, as the roots require complete darkness, and no light should enter the water.
4. Set up the planting bed
The planting bed is essentially the roof of your reservoir. Here, net pots will be securely placed in pre-cut holes. These pots will allow your plants to dangle into the aeroponic space without being submerged in the nutrient solution. Ensure that no light enters the interior of the reservoir.
5. Installation of the pump and tubing
Depending on your setup, the pump can sit either within the reservoir or outside. Plastic pipes and hoses connect the pump with the reservoir and misting nozzles.
6. Set up the misting system
When choosing the mist heads, you should choose quality brass instead of less reliable plastic. A droplet size of 30-50 microns is recommended. Check that all the roots get sufficient misting.
7. Time your misting cycles
Connect a short cycle timer to the pump. Some grows require misting of one to three minutes every five minutes; others can have shorter bursts of five seconds every minute. The aim is to have roots that are constantly moist, but not dripping. The ideal misting interval is highly dependent on your individual setup.
8. Give your full attention and care
Aeroponic systems need to be monitored constantly. Be ready for challenges, failures and trial and error when growing aeroponic weed. A good tip is to have replacement parts for all the components at hand so that you can switch quickly in case of technical failure.
Aeroponic cannabis in a tower garden
Tower gardens are vertical farming solutions using aeroponic technology. As the name suggests, these structures are built like small towers out of which a plethora of plants can grow out of. Depending on height and size they can be put on balconies, terraces, rooftop gardens, and even in interiors like living rooms or kitchens.
Tower gardens are used to grow veggies, fruit, and herbs for a sustainable home — and yes, they can also be used for growing weed! Just like other aeroponic systems, the advantages of tower gardens for cannabis lie in low resources without any soil and a small footprint. If you want to start growing aeroponic tower weed, one tip is to choose the perfect feminized strains: Tall-growing sativas should be placed on the lower end of the tower, while shorter indicas can go near the top.
Ready to give aeroponic weed a try?
Growing cannabis with aeroponics is a unique and sophisticated method of cultivating your favourite plant. Instead of sitting in soil or being submerged in water, like with hydroponics, the roots can grow freely without limitations while receiving a constant supply of nutrients.
If you decide to get into aeroponics, be aware that this is a method suited more for experienced growers and not as much for beginners. Especially when starting, you should monitor your plants constantly, as mistakes can quickly lead to their demise. When done right, aeroponics can maximise yields and create mouthwatering buds with little resources.
Do you have any experience with growing aeroponic cannabis? Share some of your insights in the comments below!
- Disclaimer:Laws and regulations regarding cannabis cultivation differ from country to country. Sensi Seeds therefore strongly advises you to check your local laws and regulations. Do not act in conflict with the law.