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Let’s face it, dirt … is dirty. It’s loaded with bacteria. It contains harmful fungi. And it certainly passes along soil-borne diseases to plants and crops. So why use it at all to grow plants like cannabis when the end use may likely be medicinal, and cleanliness from seed to finished product should be the goal?

Other than “it’s the old-fashioned way it’s been done for centuries,” there’s absolutely no reason why cannabis growers have to rely on soil. Hydroponics, aeroponics and aquaponics are the big three alternatives to growing in soil, and they are exceptionally well-suited for cannabis plants that will harvested for medical use. Although they sound alike, they have very distinct differences.

Hydroponics grows crops indoors or in greenhouses using just water and liquid nutrients. There’s no need for soil to support the plants, because there are many good alternative growth media that replace it — rock wool, coconut coir, perlite, vermiculite and other inert substances, to which nutrients-rich water is regularly delivered.

The cannabis plants grow faster and healthier because they don’t have to expend any energy to sustain themselves; everything they need is delivered to them at the right time, in the right amount. And with computer-controlled environments, free of pesticides because there simply are no insects, fungi or wildlife to contend with, the cannabis is always high-quality.

Aeroponics takes another step by eliminating the growth media altogether and suspending the plant roots in the air. A fine mist sprays the roots as needed to feed them and prevent they from getting dry. The added benefit is that there is zero waste of water and nutrients; whatever is not used gets returned to the reservoir.

Lastly, Aquaponics creates its own self-perpetuating ecosystem that generates its own natural nutrients — because fish are added to the water reservoir. The live swimming fish produce waste that is rich in the nitrates plants need — so there are no liquid plant nutrients to buy, just much-less-expensive fish food. For sustainability, productivity and the best achievable plant growth, there’s nothing better than an aquaponic system for growing cannabis. Aquaponically-grown flower is the gold standard to be used for CBD extraction into lotions, creams, patches, drops and other medical cannabis products, and you can expect to see such operations taking shape at urban, rural, and even vertical locations in the very near future.