Cultivators use living soil to grow healthy cannabis without pesticides, fungicides

(This is an abridged version of a story that appears in the March issue of Marijuana Business Magazine.)

Marijuana cultivators who hope to graduate beyond premixed fertilizers and bagged dirt are increasingly moving toward an alternative way to grow healthier plants and save money: living soil.

Living soil is often thought of as planting material that centers on compost and has an active microbiology and biodiversity, which can include worms and their castings, protozoa, healthy bacteria, amoebas, kelp extracts and even glacial rock dust.

Cultivators who create a biodiverse growing media don’t need to rely on fertilizers because microbes eat and digest compounds that create bioavailable fertilizers.

As a result, those growers also report larger yields and better terpenes.

Creating your own living soil can eliminate the need for costly bottled nutrients and, according to some growers, lead to plants so healthy that pesticides are also unnecessary because robust cannabis plants can naturally fend for themselves.

“If you’re trying to build a business, and you’re trying to build something that’s going to last and be profitable, living soil is by far the most cost-effective way to be around in 20 years,” said Dave Perkins, lead cultivator for The Emerald Cup, a vertically integrated cannabis firm in Santa Rosa, California, that’s best known for its namesake cannabis competition.

Marijuana Business Magazine spoke with several experts about their experiences with living soil.

Click on the links below to learn more about:

To investigate another cultivation method, closed-loop growing, click here, and to learn about making your crops compliant, click here.

11 comments on “Cultivators use living soil to grow healthy cannabis without pesticides, fungicides
      • Ian on

        Wind, agitation, harvesting, watering, etc can all kick up microbes into the air. Plus, this talks about using bacillus and compost based foliar sprays, which are alive, and will show up as positive counts when plated for testing.

        Reply
    • Ed on

      ya man pouring gallons of ionic fertilizers and spraying chem is way better than letting nature run its course. Let me guess you use round up on your lawn and eat breakfast at taco bell?

      Reply
    • D on

      The test for microbial contamination has changed dramatically in California. This type of cultivation is no longer a problem

      Reply
  1. Jill on

    Absolutely fail microbial tests. We regularly see cultivators fail total yeast and mold tests due to using living soil, more specifically any type of compost and/or healthy bacteria.

    Reply
    • BRIAN SCHINDEL on

      The issue in Canada is that we measure TOTAL yeast and mold. This includes both good and bad so in an organic grow your counts will be high just from the good yeast and molds.

      Reply
  2. plant dude on

    I just have to call out your publication- please move on from Alex Cooley. You guys throw him into every article that has anything to do with “sustainability”- along with his profile pic. Like all the time. And here, he’s not even running a soil- he’s running hydro- but you had to find a way to put him in there, some how. Obviously he’s a friend of you all, but as a longtime grower I have to say- find someone else. This guy does not deserve all of the hype he gets. And if he’s running an indoor hydro garden- while there are many outdoor organic growers out there in Wa- then he sure doesn’t deserve any credit of “sustainability”.

    Reply

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