Cannabis, like other plants, will give higher yields if fertilised. Since many growers of cannabis are concerned about sustainability, it only comes natural that some cannabis farmers would like to use organic fertilisers. Organic fertilisers don’t use energy in production (as chemical fertilisers have to be mined from natural rocks or minerals in the ground and processed, a process which takes a lot of energy and leads to more carbon dioxide production). Organic fertilisers can be made from various agricultural waste products. And instead of these products being dumped in landfills, it’s better to use them in order to grow various plants that we need on farms and that includes cannabis.
One great organic fertiliser that can be easily used for cannabis is compost. Compost is simply plant matter that has decayed to the point of become a dark, crumbly substance that can be added to soil. One can make large bins and fill them up with leaves, grass clippings, food waste products from the home (if meat or animal products are placed in compost it must be secured from animals that may enter while the meat is rotting) or essentially any plant remains except for solid wood and thick branches. Compost not only adds nutrients to the soil, it aids in moisture retention. Compost can be either mixed on or plowed into the soil, or it can be simply laid on top of the soil.
Bone meal is another excellent organic fertiliser. Bone meal is made from the pulverized bones of farm animals. It is high in phosphates and calcium and has smaller amounts of nitrogen. Bone meal doesn’t readily dissolve, as it’s made from the pulverized bone so it must be mixed into the soil for the best results. Bone meal is more of a slow-release fertilizer that can take a few months to have maximum effect.
Blood meal, on the other hand, is a rapidly release fertilizer having great effects in just a few weeks. Blood meals are the dried and powdered blood from animals killed in the slaughterhouses. It’s high in nitrogen, with smaller amounts of phosphates and potassium and other nutrients. Ideally, it’s mixed or plowed into the soil before planting, but it can also be sprinkled on top of the soil as well.
Animal manures are excellent organic fertilizers. They add a number of nutrients to the soil such as nitrogen, phosphates, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Obtaining them is pretty easy for anyone living in a rural area, particularly if one has one’s own animals. One doesn’t have to limit the use of animal manures from large animals such as cows, horses, goats, or sheep. One can also use rabbits, pigeons, chickens, ducks, and geese, among other small animals. Animal manures comprised of mainly grass tend to be less concentrated and can be added directly to the soil. This is true of all grazing animals such as horses, goats, sheep, cows, rabbits, and geese. Animals that eat more meat seeds tend to have more concentrated manures, so their manures may need composting (chicken, pigeon, turkey, pig).
Leather meal is ground up leather. It’s particularly high in nitrogen and can stimulate rapid plant growth. Similarly ground up hair, feathers, and hooves can be used as organic fertilizers, and also are great additives to the soil. Various forms of ash are now touted as fertilizers, from wood ash (obviously from burning wood) to coal ash (generated from burning coal at power plants).
Anywhere people live large amounts of wastewater has to be treated before being released into the environment. These waters from sewer systems can are a great source of nutrients for fertilizing cannabis. Irrigation systems can be set up to water cannabis farms with wastewater. Particularly in dry areas, using wastewater helps conserve clean water while fertilizing cannabis plants and reducing environmental impact.
Biosolids, or sewage sludge is another way to recycle nutrients and make them available for cannabis cultivation. Biosolids were traditionally buried in landfills, but in recent decades they are increasingly used as fertilizers for a variety of things and cannabis is one group that does well with them. By using biosolids to fertilize cannabis, we not only save space in landfills we save on energy and resources that might have been used to make chemical fertilizers. And the organic material in biosolids improves water retention of soils.
These are some of the main organic materials that are great ways to fertilize cannabis. There are others such as fish and kelp by products. Regardless, any organic fertilizer applied to cannabis agriculture will improve sustainability and help the environment by reapplying resources and keeping wastes out of landfills. Organic fertilizers often improve moisture retention (particularly human and animal waste, and composted materials). By improving water retention that alone is a benefit to not just the cannabis plants but the environment. The research for this article was made possible by the support of Candid Chronicle.