How it's Made: an Ongoing Debate

Innovation over nature has been an ongoing debate since the industrial revolution and it continues now into an industry that’s really only just getting its start. I’m talking about the most crucial debate between a living soil growing technique and a bottled nutrient feeding process. This topic really highlights a facet within this industry totally lacking definitive information, but also within our own understanding of how all plants are grown at the industrial scale— like the food we eat. We at Third day have talked about this lack of information at nauseam. But as we all transition to a place of demanding safety, higher quality, and transparency from the food as well as Cannabis we consume; there is no topic more in need of investigating.

A bottled nutrient diet of course utilizes readymade store-bought solutions for all of a plant’s nutrient needs. Their core chemical structure is already broken down for root absorption. They are often laden with heavy salts and metals, and can be extremely diluted. A living soil technique utilizes the natural compulsions of ancient bacteria within the soil to break down organic matter, turning it into a usable form which allows the roots to pass it along to the plant via diffusion. The concept of a living soil is really just a new way of describing the process by which all plants have naturally grown for all of Earth’s oxygen-rich history.

There are two questions structuring both sides of the same idea behind these growing methods.

  1. Is living soil inherently better than a pre-made bottled nutrient diet?

  2. Is a bottled nutrient diet inherently worse than a living soil technique?

What these questions don’t specify is exactly what part of the growing process or overall outcome we’re talking about when we ask for a dichotomy of better or worse. Believers in the superiority of a bottled diet claim total control and a blank slate growing medium allow for extreme precision in growing as well as higher expected yield. Those that advocate for a living soil maintain strongly that the final product will always be superior because the plant has utilized its living micro-biome within the soil to extract exactly what it needs to thrive and will never need to be leached off its sodium or residual nutrient content.

There are also the environmental claims that bottled nutrients are a waste of plastic and that the potential runoff from these sometimes harsh chemicals entering the water table could have devastating effects. However, last I checked, every single component for starting a soil medium or creating a compost tea have to be imported from somewhere; and is brought in a package usually made of plastic.

I’m not saying one over the other is beneficial, I’m really just not sure. What I am sure of is the need for an educational overhaul in this industry. More and more people are inquiring about Cannabis every day and they deserve to understand as much as possible about why it’s being grown the way it is.

Currently at Third day, we are formulating an experiment where we will grow two Cannabis plants both cut from the same clone mother, growing one in living soil and the other with a “synthetic” bottle nutrient feed. We will keep all other variables identical, growing both plants in the same veg and flower rooms. Once we have harvested we will see the true difference as it pertains to potency, trichome production, terpene profile, flavonoid profile, as well as harshness when smoked or vaped.

When information is in the hands of the consumer, they can choose how they want to use it. If living soil is superior to a more industrialized feeding method, then our first task is to fully understand why.

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