Plants need three things to flourish: light, nutrients and water. Professional growers know that cannabis plants require lots of water. Water can quickly become a major expense item, and wasted water translates to lost profit.
Some states are experiencing water shortages. California’s drought has become infamous, but Washington and Colorado face water issues, too. In 2014, the federal government announced that its water supplies would be denied to cannabis grows in those two recreational states, restricting some businesses from being able to tap into low-cost water supplies.
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to reduce water use and save money. Focus on just one of these techniques, or combine them in different ways to increase your savings.
Instead of planting in soil, try coconut husk instead. The husk is porous, so it can hold more water than soil and it dries out much slower. The husk also contains nutrients and other organic compounds needed by the plant, so you can ditch soil altogether. Coconut husk, otherwise known as coco coir, also retains humidity in the root system while allowing oxygen to enter the root area. This prevents overhydration, saving the plants and saving water.
Catch and Store
If your state permits it, capturing rain water is an excellent way to water plants. Installing buckets on the roof of a grow building, as well as along the perimeter, can maximize rainwater collection. Best of all, the rainwater is likely clean, so it can go directly into the plants with little to no treatment.
Water Frequently, Water Less
Rookie growers fall into the trap of believing more water equals bigger plants. Like most plants, cannabis can absorb and process only so much water at one time. Furthermore, root systems can draw water, so water does not need to reach the bottom of a container.
First, purchase a moisture measuring stick. Measure the moisture in each pot at 6, 12, and 18 inches (if the container goes that deep). If water ever goes below the bottom of the root line (or to the bottom of the container), consider that wasted water.
If watering is done by hand, water more frequently and in smaller amounts. If watering is automated, set the timers and releases accordingly.
Switch to Hydroponics
Hydroponic systems, if maintained properly, can save quite a bit of water. According to some growers, water usage can be reduced by 10 times in a hydro grow.
However, as with any automated watering system, the frequency of watering and amount of water deployed can affect water waste. Frequent “drip” methods of watering tend to be the most efficient.
Tree-T-Pee (Outdoors Only)
For about $8, you can purchase a Tree-T-Pee. This is a durable plastic cover that goes around the base of a cannabis plant. It prevents evaporation of water where the roots are most concentrated. The inventors of the Tree-T-Pee claim it can cut water requirements by nearly 30 times per plant.
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