Anyone who is interested in aquaponics, and is also interested in growing weed definitely needs to know about what Green Relief is up to. They’ve been up to it for going on three years now actually. They are growing cannabis using aquaponics. Aquaponics is inherently organic, it is highly sustainable, it provides two product outputs (Fish and plants), it can boast faster plant growth than hydroponics, and it uses hardly any water. The list goes on.
The real question is: why did it take so long for people to start doing this?
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Green Relief started their facility in 2016. Before that, aquaponics and cannabis had never before been attempted at a commercial scale! Surely, the pros outweigh the cons. In 2017, a Nova Scotia company saw the benefit and following suit. Aqualitas is a medical marijuana company that also uses aquaponics to grow its cannabis.
The Canadian Cannabis Struggle
Cannabis is now legal for recreational use here in Canada. Everyone and their dog is scrambling to get their piece of the marijuana pie, but people trying to grow cannabis commercially should be prepared to wade through an olympic swimming pool full of red tape. Some of that red tape is going to be about how the weed is grown – it has to be organic. There is a small list of organic pesticides and plant foods that can be used. Red tape may also have to do with how the facility is made and whether it meets health and safety standards. It wouldn’t work to try and whip up a quick growing system and get going, aquaponics or not. Bio-security is essential.
If you happen to be one of those people trying to get a piece of marijuana pie, it would be worthwhile to get a hold of us or book a free consultation with us, we can get you hooked up with the means to get a piece of both marijuana and fish pie.
If you aren’t too sure what aquaponics is but want to know more, look here, we can break it down for you.
Now, let’s talk about the pros and cons.
Pros of Growing Cannabis with Aquaponics
First and foremost, all legal cannabis has to meet organic standards. There is a small list of organic pesticides and nutrients allowed to be used. Growing cannabis in a system that doesn’t need added nutrients, nor regularly added pesticides will certainly fatten your wallet in the end.
Aquaponics is extremely sustainable when it comes to growing cannabis. There is fish food that is manufactured specifically for aquaponics. It ensures that your aquaponic system stays healthy while providing the fish with all their healthy nutrients. Fish food goes in, (about 45 grams of food per square meter of canopy), fish poop goes out, the aquaponic system does the rest. Just add food and water, and you’ll be growing pounds of organic green goodness while also taking a load off of mother nature’s back. A smart consumer would want to know that their chosen product was environmentally friendly.
Multiple product outputs (fish and plants)
It’s easy to raise tasty fish alongside tasty cannabis. Here’s why this is amazing. A commercial facility has a weekly output of fish. Those fish can sell for a consistent price, with little market variance. Everybody wants fish. You have a bad crop? There is still a consistent income from fish. Legal cannabis, however, has a history of inconsistent marketability.
The current cannabis market in the United States points toward a looming over-saturated Canadian market, with growers making little-to-no returns from their crops. If cannabis prices start to sink, the fish will keep you afloat.
Aquaponics is a great way to grow plants quickly. Aquaponics allows the roots to take in more oxygen than they would in soil, which increases nutrient absorption and growth.
Aquaponic systems recycle the water. It’s a closed system. There is a happy balance of fish, plants, and bacteria that must be developed and maintained within the system. This means that the only water lost is from evaporation (which can be captured by de-humidifiers and recirculated), and from fish or plant harvest. Just keep the system topped up with water, and it’s good to go.
Why does this matter?
Currently, agriculture is using 70% of the worlds fresh water. Cannabis generally takes quite a bit of water to grow. Would you rather be the cannabis grower that contributes to climate change? Or the one that is part of moving this world forward; the one that contributes towards smart-agricultural practices?
Cons of Growing Cannabis with Aquaponics
Depending on project scope, setting up an aquaponics system may cost more than establishing a hydroponic or soil facility. We talk a bit more about how to figure all of this out here. The upfront costs of setting up a commercial aquaponic growing facility pale in comparison to the ROI that shows up later. While other growing methods might get a grower off to the races a bit easier, they will soon find themselves with a long list of expenses and work required to sustain their facility. On the other hand, Aquaponics is more of a turn-key situation.
Part of the early investment has to do with system management, we talk about that a bit more here. A lot of this can be automated, and can even be managed by AI. It has to do with ensuring that the system is kept at the optimal levels required to maintain the happy balance of fish, plants, and bacteria. This is more of a con when it’s managed all by hand. It would require some aquaponic know-how, and consistent and watchful eye. Our take on it? If someone is growing cannabis, they likely already have a consistent and watchful eye. These plants are their babies, aren’t they?
Aquaponics is a sustainable way to farm. It is versatile, and can grow cannabis virtually anywhere, provided you are complying to government regulations. It provides a quality final product with unique selling points that can help growers stand out in the cannabis market. Aquaponics can provide certainty in an uncertain cannabis market with the output of fish. It also gives growers something to brag about while they are relaxing after a long day’s work with their pals – passing legal green to the left. Left is law.