Today’s consumers increasingly demand products that include fresh, high-quality produce (which includes produce from vegetable and pharmaceutical plants), free of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals. Local production is also a major factor where fresh products are purchased. In many regions of the United States and the world, climate makes it impossible to meet this need year-round with only local produce grown outdoors. Well-managed, local controlled environment agriculture (CEA) operations are able to provide produce year around which are of high quality and free of agriculture chemicals. CEA facilities can be located in urbanized areas, thus not requiring the conversion of open or agricultural land to greenhouses. Along with fresh produce, they add to local tax bases and bring net income to a community. To grow produce year around in most regions require some kind of supplemental lighting and a controlled environment. This article discusses the requirements of scientific knowledge and close monitoring for the most successful crops.
How to Measure/Calculate DLI DLI of PAR can be measured using any LI-COR Quantum sensor: LI-190R, LI-191R, LI-192, or LI-193, in conjunction with a data logging device such as the LI-1500 Light Sensor Logger or LI-1400 DataLogger. Quantum sensors are designed to directly measure the number of moles of PAR. Similarly, DLI of solar radiation can be measured using the LI-200R Pyranometer and a data logging device such as the LI-1500 Light Sensor Logger or LI-1400 DataLogger. DLI can be calculated from a series of instantaneous readings taken at regular intervals.
DOSE YOUR PLANTS DAILY PHOTONS DLI RECIPIES USING SMART GROW CYCLES
Daily Light Integral (DLI) * DLI = PPFD over the course of a light cycle * Measured as moles of PAR photons per day * Example: a light emitting PPFD = 1000 running 12 hours emits a DLI = 43.2 moles/day * Computed as ((60 sec/min)*(60 min/hr)*(12 hrs/day)*(PPFD))/1 million * Current research indicates Cannabis grows best at PPFD = 1500 (DLI = 65) and temperature = 30 degrees C Lighting Efficiency = PPFD/joule or PPFD/input wattage
||17 – 22 mol/m2 /d combination of solar and supplemental light
|| 17 mol m-2 d-1 combination of solar and supplemental light
|| 1500 μmol m-2 s-1
||20 mol m−2
| D O
|| 7 mg/L or ppm
|| 7 mg/L or ppm, crop failure if less than 3 ppm
|| 40-45 parts-per-million (ppm)
||30 mg L−1
|| 5.8 to 6
||5.6 to 5.8
| Air temp
|| 24 C Day/19 C Night (75 F/65 F)
|| 24 C Day/19 C Night (75 F/65 F)
|| 30 C
||21-28 C/Day 17-18 C/Night
|| No higher than 25C, cool at 26C, heat at 24C
|| No higher than 25C, cool at 26C, heat at 24C
|| 21 C
||minimum 50 and no higher than70%
||minimum 50 and no higher than70%
||50% to 70% in vegetative growth, and 50% to 60% for flowering plants.
||30 to 90%
|| 1000-1500 ppm if light is available, ambient (~390 ppm) if not
|| 1500 ppm if light is available, ambient (~390 ppm) if not
||400 ppm to as much as 1,500
||200–1500 μmol mol−1
For greenhouse growers, from sunrise to sunset, there are variations in light. If growers take a single light measurement early in the day, they may be underestimating the amount of light. Alternatively, if the light measurement is made later in the day, growers may be overestimating the light level. Instantaneous light levels change over the course of a day.
An instantaneous footcandle measurement cannot take daylength into account. For this reason, daily light integral is the preferred method of quantifying the amount of light delivered to greenhouse crops.
During the winter months, the differences in daily light integral primarily occur between the northern and southern U.S., while during the summer months the differences in daily light integral primarily occur between the eastern and western U.S.
Lighting For Varius Species
Each crop species has an optimal light intensity that maximizes photosynthesis and plant growth. When there is not enough light, growth and crop quality can decline; and if there is excessive light, photosynthesis and growth will not increase despite the expense of keeping the lights on.
Most horticultural researchers measure instantaneous light in micromoles (μmol) per square
meter (m-2) per second (s-1), or: μmol·m-2·s-1 of PAR. This “quantum” unit quantifies the number of photons (individual particles of energy) used in photosynthesis that fall on a square meter (10.8 square feet) every second. However, this light measurement also is an instantaneous reading.
How much light do I need for vegetables?
A recommended minimum DLI for lettuce production is 12 to 14 mol∙m-2∙d-1, whereas at least 15 (and preferably more than 20) mol∙m-2∙d-1 is suggested for vine crops. Therefore, the answer to this question depends primarily on your geographic location. In the northern half of the United States, achieving such a high DLI requires high-intensity lighting for at least six months of the year. In the southern half of the United States, supplemental lighting is less critical, although it will increase crop yield from autumn through spring.
A typical supplemental lighting intensity for high-light vegetable crops is 125 to 175 µmol∙m-2∙s-1 [950 to 1,330 foot-candles from high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps]. If a grower wants to increase the DLI by 10 mol∙m-2∙d-1 and plans to operate lamps for 18 hours per day, then an intensity of 155 µmol∙m-2∙s-1 (1,175 foot-candles) needs to be provided. That’s at least twice the intensity that is typically provided by U.S. growers of ornamentals. An even higher intensity (for example, 200 µmol∙m-2∙s-1, or 1,520 foot-candles) is commonly provided in greenhouse tomato production in northern Europe, where the natural DLI is very low. Growers also provide supplemental carbon dioxide to maximize the benefit of supplemental lighting.
Daily light integral
(DLI) describes the number of photosynthetically active photons (individual particles of light in the 400-700 nm range) that are delivered to a specific area over a 24-hour period. Photons that have a wavelength between 400 and 700 nanometers (nm) and provide the energy for photosynthesis, or the process of converting water and carbon dioxide into sugars and oxygen. These sugars are then used for plant growth. The DLI specifically refers to the amount of light received in 1 sq.m. of area, which equals 10.8 sq.ft. To put in simpler terms, DLI refers to the amount of photosynthetic light received in 1 sq.m. of area each day. DLI is similar to a rain gauge, which is not used to measure the amount of rain per second or per minute but to measure the total amount of rain received at a particular location. If the rain gauge is emptied every night, you can measure the total amount of rain received during a 24-hour period. Likewise, a light meter can be used to measure how many photons of light accumulate per square meter every day. The DLI cannot be measured in one reading; a light meter must be used to measure how much light is received at least once every 10 minutes to determine the average light intensity during the day.
Indoor Lighting Crops
SPINACH – SEEDS IN GERMINATION AREA
Light intensity is maintained at no less than 50 µmoles/m2/s1of PAR during the first 24 hours the seeds are kept in the germination area. This level of illumination prevented stretching of the seedlings while minimizing the tendency of supplemental lighting to dry out the surface of the medium. A quantum sensor can be used to measure the amount of PAR. Sum the accumulated hourly PAR values for a daily PAR value which is called the Daily Light Integral or DLI. For the remaining 10 days, the light intensity is maintained at no less than 200 µmol/m2/s1. The photoperiod (or day length) may be up to 24 hours. Shorter photoperiods are acceptable if the light intensity is increased to provide the same total daily accumulated light (~17 mol/m2/d1). http://www.cornellcea.com/attachments/Cornell%20CEA%20baby%20spinach%20handbook.pdf
LETTUCE – SEEDS IN GERMINATION AREA
Light intensity is maintained at no less than 50 µmol/m2/s of PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) during the first 24 hours the seeds are kept in the germination area. This level of illumination prevented stretching of the seedlings while minimizing the tendency of supplemental lighting to dry out the surface of the medium. A quantum sensor can be used to measure the amount of PAR. Sum the accumulated hourly PAR values for a daily PAR value. For the remaining 10 days, the light intensity is maintained at 250 µmol/m2/s. The photoperiod (or day length) is 24 hours. Shorter photoperiods are acceptable if the light intensity is increased to provide the same total daily accumulated light (~22 mol/m2/d). Anecdotal evidence shows that some lettuce seedlings can tolerate 30 mol/m2/d. http://www.cornellcea.com/attachments/Cornell%20CEA%20Lettuce%20Handbook%20.pdf Temperature Temperature controls the rate of plant growth. Generally, as temperatures increase, chemical processes proceed at faster rates. Most chemical processes in plants are regulated by enzymes which, in turn, perform at their best within narrow temperature ranges. Above and below these temperature ranges, enzyme activity starts to deteriorate and as a result chemical processes slow down or are stopped. At this point, plants are stressed, growth is reduced, and, eventually, the plant may die. The temperature of the plant environment should be kept at optimum levels for fast and successful maturation. Both the air and the water temperature must be monitored and controlled. Relative Humidity The relative humidity (RH) of the greenhouse air influences the transpiration rate of plants. High RH of the greenhouse air causes less water to transpire from the plants, which causes less transport of nutrients from roots to leaves and less cooling of the leaf surfaces. High humidities can also cause disease problems in some cases. Carbon Dioxide or CO2 The CO2 concentration of the greenhouse air directly influences the amount of photosynthesis (growth) of plants. Normal outdoor CO2 concentration is around 390 parts per million (ppm). Plants in a closed greenhouse during a bright day can deplete the CO2 concentration to 100 ppm, which severely reduces the rate of photosynthesis. In greenhouses, increasing CO2 concentrations to 1000-1500 ppm speeds growth. CO2 is supplied to the greenhouse by adding liquid CO2. Heaters that provide carbon dioxide as a by-product exist but we do not recommend these because they often provide air contaminants that slow the growth of the lettuce. Lights Light measurements are taken with a quantum sensor, which measures Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) in the units µmol/m2/s. PAR is the light which is useful to plants for the process of photosynthesis. Measurements of PAR give an indication of the possible amount of photosynthesis and growth being performed by the plant. Foot-candle sensors and lux meters are inappropriate because they do not directly measure light used for photosynthesis. Dissolved Oxygen Dissolved oxygen (DO) measurements indicate the amount of oxygen available in the pond nutrient solution for the roots to use in respiration. Lettuce will grow satisfactorily at a DO level of at least 4 ppm. If no oxygen is added to the pond, DO levels will drop to nearly 0 ppm. The absence of oxygen in the nutrient solution will stop the process of respiration and seriously damage and kill the plant. Pure oxygen is added to the recirculation system in the ponds. Usually the level is maintained at 8 (7-10, no advantage to 20) ppm. For sufficiently small systems, it is possible to add air to the solution through an air pump and aquarium air stone but the dissolved oxygen level achieved will not be as high as can be achieved with pure oxygen. Lettuce: pH The pH of a solution is a measure of the concentration of hydrogen ions. The pH of a solution can range between 0 and 14. A neutral solution has a pH of 7. That is, there are an equal number of hydrogen ions (H+) and hydroxide ions (OH). The pH of a solution is important because it controls the availability of the fertilizer salts. A pH of 5.8 is considered optimum for the described spinach growing system, however a range of 5.6-6.0 is acceptable. Nutrient deficiencies may occur at ranges above or below the acceptable range. Solutions ranging from pH 0-6.9 are considered acidic and have a greater concentration of H+. Solutions with pH 7.1-14 are basic or alkaline and have a greater concentration of OH. The pH of a solution is important because it controls the availability of the fertilizer salts. A pH of 5.8 is considered optimum for the described lettuce growing system, however a range of 5.6-6.0 is acceptable. Nutrient deficiencies may occur at ranges above or below the acceptable range.
This is important because a laboratory test of the nutrient solution may show that the micro and macroelements required by the crop are within the appropriate concentration range but if the pH is not correct then the nutrients are unavailable to the crop. The pH of a solution is important because it controls the availability of the fertilizer salts. A pH of 5.8 is considered optimum for the described spinach growing system, however a range of 5.6-6.0 is acceptable. Nutrient deficiencies may occur at ranges above or below the acceptable range. Electrical Conductivity Electrical conductivity (EC) is a measure of the dissolved salts in a solution. As nutrients are taken up by a plant, the EC level is lowered since there are fewer salts in the solution. Alternately, the EC of the solution is increased when water is removed from the solution through the processes of evaporation and transpiration. If the EC of the solution increases, it can be lowered by adding pure water, e.g., reverse osmosis water). If the EC decreases, it can be increased by adding a small quantity of a concentrated nutrient stock solution. When monitoring the EC concentration, be sure to subtract the base EC of your source water from the level detected by your sensor.
How much light do I need for vegetables?
A recommended minimum DLI for lettuce production is 12 to 14 mol∙m-2∙d-1, whereas at least 15 (and preferably more than 20) mol∙m-2∙d-1 is suggested for vine crops. Therefore, the answer to this question depends primarily on your geographic location. In the northern half of the United States, achieving such a high DLI requires high-intensity lighting for at least six months of the year. In the southern half of the United States, supplemental lighting is less critical, although it will increase crop yield from autumn through spring. A typical supplemental lighting intensity for high-light vegetable crops is 125 to 175 µmol∙m-2∙s-1 [950 to 1,330 foot-candles from high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps]. If a grower wants to increase the DLI by 10 mol∙m-2∙d-1 and plans to operate lamps for 18 hours per day, then an intensity of 155 µmol∙m-2∙s-1 (1,175 foot-candles) needs to be provided. That’s at least twice the intensity that is typically provided by U.S. growers of ornamentals. An even higher intensity (for example, 200 µmol∙m-2∙s-1, or 1,520 foot-candles) is commonly provided in greenhouse tomato production in northern Europe, where the natural DLI is very low. Growers also provide supplemental carbon dioxide to maximize the benefit of supplemental lighting. The use of supplemental lighting for crop production of Northern regions is the future for high quality product and reduced fossil energy use. For an energy and capital intensive system to be profitable, high yields must be obtained. Several parameters should adapted according to the crop. The optimal light intensity, adequate crop schedule and plant population, climate control, especially daily temperature evolution, and pest management would have to be adjusted.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daily_light_integral https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4235429/ http://www.cornellcea.com/research/CEA.html https://smartgrow.systems/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Cannabis-Sativa-Response-to-PPFD-temp-and-CO2.pdf https://smartgrow.systems/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/lettuce-handbook-section-1-system.pdf https://smartgrow.systems/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Cornell-CEA-baby-spinach-handbook.pdf https://www.thehealingcanna.com/growroom-temperature-humidity https://www.myhydrolife.com/balancing-the-best-ph-level-for-growing-cannabis/2/1710
SGS PODCAST EPISODE 01 — Vertical Farming Round Table
Haley and Hayden talk vertical farming with SGS founder covering the history of the early days in green energy horticulture lighting all the way up to present technology advancements as well as a look into the future of indoor vertical farming.
Soil health is the foundation of farming productivity. Fertile soil provides the essential nutrients to plants and allows water and air to infiltrate, roots to explore, and biota to thrive. Soil health and soil quality are terms used interchangeably to describe soils that are not only fertile but also possess adequate physical and biological properties to sustain productivity, maintain environmental quality and promote plant health.
Step by Step instructions highlighting this simple method that requires zero drain to waste.
Set your Grow Tray up on table in an ergonomic friendly height.
Purchase 3 x 4 grow tray – https://www.bwgs.com/Item/Details/3187
(2) Square Soft Pot(s)
(1) Plastic Tray
- 3′ x 4′ Tray – (2) 34″ X 22″ Square Soft Pots (pictured below)
- 4′ x 8′ Tray – (8) 22″ x 22″ Square Soft Pots
Tuck in the edges so the dirt can fill in the gaps of the Square Soft Pots into the corners of the plastic trays.
Select your soil mix. SGS recommends using a light mix of soil rather than heavy NPK loaded soils for Sea of Green.
Additional Options: Adding perlite to the bottom of the Square Soft Pots will add more drainage and an extra layer to keep the roots from resting directly in water. Due to the light soil mix ability to drain out quickly during the sea of green application this step is not needed if the tray has adequate drain channels.
NOTE: Recommended option is to add worm castings to base mix if your base mix soil does not already contain the worm castings.
Load soil mix first.
Add worm castings.
Evenly mix up both the soil mix and worm casting together.
Try and target 6.5 to 7 inches of soil height. Using cuttings, your feeder roots will go wide not deep.
For “sea of green” vertical application, the target for 80% of the strains is one plant every 4 inches. This “four plants per cubic foot” is the baseline for all vertical grow decks.
SOG Plant Count Rule of Thumb
(4 plants every cubic ft.)
3′ x 4′ Tray
(2) 34″ X 22″ Square Soft Pots (24 plants each)
48 total plants
4′ x 8′ Tray
(8) 22″ x 22″ Square Soft Pots (16 plants each)
128 total plants
For “sea of green” vertical application, its best to run a veg 18-6 schedule for 6-7 days after transplanting from clone
After a few days of running the light schedule in a veg 18-6 schedule the clones start to recover and strengthen. Another important note is to adjust the light intensity
at this veg transition stage around 180-200 micromoles.
After 6-7 days of running in a veg 18-6 schedule the clones will jump up a few inches in one day. This is when you flip your clones to flower schedule of 12 hours on and 12 hours off and increase the intensity to 300 micromoles at the canopy. See our SGS grow charts for full Smart Grow Cycles.
The following Base Soil Mixes and Worm Casting Mixes were selected for best fits for Original CHO sugar based plant food regimen. The sugar based formulas go perfect with these types of soil mixes and make perfect homes for living microbes.
SOIL BASE MIX
Running Original CHO requires just the right profile of micro and macro nutrients to make up the trace amount of salts needed for the right balance ratio to sugars from the CHO feeding program.
The easiest and most fool proof method of growing vertical sea of green in a rack environment using the SGS Original CHO feeding program starts with selecting the right soil base mix.
The right soil mix needs to be loaded with a wide range of macro and micro nutrients in a light soil mix. rather than starting with lightly loaded substrate of coco mix that requires adding npk fertilzers.
If the soil base mix has a wide, balanced combination of macro and micro nutrients preloaded in the beginning, then the entire grow cycle can be performed with a simple 2 part soil amendment feeding program consisting of Original CHO Aqua and activated GREEN Formulas. This CHO program does not require any additional fertilizers added at any time during the grow cycle, even during flower weeks 5-7.
This zero fertilizer feeding system takes all the guess work out of balancing NPK salts since the plants get plenty of trace macro and micro nutrients in the base soil mix.
Flower Auto Pilot without NPK. The goal for aerobic balance of bio material is 96.6% Sugars (CHO) and 3.4% Salts (Micro & Macro Nutrients). The target is to keep your plants aerobic. The plants frequency turn to anaerobic when the balance shifts towards salts, and this change in the plant’s make up invites unwanted pests, disease and pathogens.
Original CHO GREEN Formula is a perfect sugar based non metal foliar spray that can be used throughout the entire grow cycle from vegegtative to flower.
Spray the Orignal CHO GREEN Formula foliar mix everyday on your stocks, leaves and flowers (buds) and watch your flower explode with sugar development. This process helps increase carbohydrates, fats & lipids and proteins development. This burst of CHO molecules also helps keep your plants aerobic as well as increases both THC potency and the overall terpene profile.
THE FOLLOWING BASE MIX SOIL PRODUCTS BELOW ARE EXCELLENT COMPLIMENTS FOR THE FEEDING SCHEDULES ABOVE.
Rocket Fuel was designed for the grower who enjoys a fast draining and lighter medium. Based on growers grade Manitoban long fiber peat, Rocket Fuel is one of the best indoor and greenhouse blends on the market today. To make sure there is an instant punch of nitrogen available, they use a blast of powdered calcium nitrate. Rocket Fuel allows the farmer to transplant, water plants as needed, relax, and leave the Outlaw flying to us the first couple of weeks.
Rogue Soil – Factory Built Soil
GUARANTEED ANALYSIS: 0.10-0.33-0.6
Total Nitrogen 0.10%, Nitrate Nitrogen 0.06%, Water Insoluble Nitrogen 0.04%, Available Phosphate 0.33%, Soluble Potash 0.6%, Calcium 1.0%. Derived from: Calcium Nitrate, Ureaform, Bat Guano, Kelp Meal, Alfalfa Meal, Fishbone Meal, Feather Meal, Calcium
ALSO CONTAINS NON-PLANT FOOD INGREDIENTS:
Mycorrhizal Endo: Glomus intraradices 0.039 prop/cc, Glomus aggregatum 0.039 prop/cc, Glomus mosseae 0.039 prop/cc, Glomus etunicatum 0.039 prop/cc, Soil Amending Ingredients: Sphagnum Peat Moss, Perlite, Aged Forest Product, Coconut Coir, Green Waste Compost, Worm Castings, Glacial Rock Dust, Limestone (ph adjuster)
Sensi Lite is designed to promote optimal growth without burn or shock. It is optimized as a stand-alone soil when used in conjunction with your favorite amendments and liquid nutrition. For the ultimate worry free gardening experience, begin plant life in Sensi Lite and finish strong in Sensi Soil.
Glomus interadices 0.01 propagules/g, Glomus mosseae 0.01 propagates/g, Glomus aggregates 0.01 propagules/g, Glomus tunicates 0.01 propagules/g, Bacillus subtilis 953 cfu/g, Bacillus megaterium 953 cfu/g, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens 953 cfu/g, Bacillus pumilis 953 cfu/g, Bacillus licheniformis 953 cfu/g, Trichoderma harzianum 119 cfu/g, Trichoderma kongii 119 cfu/g. Also contains non-plant food ingredients: 0.0004% Humic Acid (from Leonardite)
Roots Organics Green Fields is an ocean-nutrient-based growing mix designed for both the vegetative-and flowering phases of mature plants. Green Fields was designed with greater water-holding capacity, yet it is free-draining for frequent feeding of fast-growing, heavy feeding plants. Green Fields is a ready-to-use soil created with less perlite and pumice, and specific ingredients such as fish meal and crab meal, worm castings, bat guano, and kelp meal. Experienced gardeners know that a perfect outdoor mix is different than a perfect indoor mix, and Green Fields has been proven as an excellent outdoor blend for your fast-growing plants.
INGREDIENTS: Composted Forest Material, Peat Moss, Perlite, Coco Fiber, Pumice, Worm Castings, Crab Meal, Feather Meal, Fish Meal, Bat Guano, Soybean Meal, Fish Bone Meal, Kelp Meal.
INGREDIENTS: 100% Worm Castings
Roots Organics Big Worm pure and premium worm castings is a distinctive natural soil amendment. Our earthworms are carefully tended and fed an unparalleled blend of organic and natural feed stocks for exceptional quality worm castings. No fillers, no chemicals and no tricks. Just pure and exceptional worm castings. Add Roots Organics Big Worm pure and premium worm castings to any soil as an amendment and conditioner.
EARTH WORM INGREDIENTS: Vermicompost
Roots Organics Earth Worm vermicompost contains organic matter to assist in soil aggregation and improve cation exchange capacity of soils. Our earthworms are carefully tended and fed an unparalleled blend of natural and organic feedstocks for exceptional quality vermicompost. Roots Organics Earth Worm is a great amendment or top dress to aid in the proliferation of soil microbes and encourage vigorous root growth.
Light·Mix® is the ideal substrate for organic growers who want to control their plant growth by applying liquid fertilizers from the beginning of the grow cycle. Larger quantities of fertilizers may be applied on demand to any kind of plant, including heavy feeders, without the risk of overloading the substrate and causing nutrient burn. Micro activity is created as the liquids work with the substrate to produce organic catalysts. Light·Mix® is also ideal for cuttings, young plants, and seedlings. This mixture ensures the right atmosphere for the development of rapid root structures and provides a foundation for vigorous growth. Light·Mix® has been blended to ensure optimal drainage throughout the entire medium, a property that is essential if automatic irrigation systems are used.
Substrates such as coco based mixes require an additional supplement of nutrients to make up for the lack of calcium, magnesium and iron plants need.
Predator mites are carnivores and like what the name sounds, are a type of mite that eats other mites. There are some main differences between the predator and its prey. Where spider mites are herbivores, feasting on your crops, predatory mites are strictly carnivorous and will only eat other bugs.
Unlike beneficial fungi or microbials which are little living organisms that are beneficial for your plants, mites are NOT a tiny organism you want in your grow room. The reason is that they actually feed on your plants and drain them of valuable nutrients and chlorophyll and can kill your plants! They are basically like “vampires” that will suck your plants dry and can ruin your entire harvest.
When cannabis growers hear the dreaded word “mite”, it sets off an image in their minds of this giant infestation of mites coming from seemingly nowhere and eating their crop to the stems. While they don’t start off quite that bad, it’s true that if not kept under control this very small-sized tormentor can turn into a very large problem rather quickly.
Now all of this increased safety and compliance with strict regulation that comes with using predatory mites makes it effective as a pest control. Predator mites have been used in traditional farming for a long time and have proven especially useful for berry and grape farmers. Back in the 1980s, farmers were having issues with spider mites on strawberry farms because they had become resistant to many of the available chemical pesticides. Because of the potential for resistance, it was found that the predatory mites persimilis and fallacis, “can be more effective than chemicals.”
One of the reasons for the predator mites’ effectiveness, besides that spider mites don’t build a resistance to them, is that predators also eat the spider mite eggs. Many traditional and organic pesticides only attack the bugs that have hatched. According to Andrew Maltby, president of Biotactics
, mites (both good and bad) breathe through tiny pores on their legs. Miticides and oil based pesticides, generally work by blocking the pores and basically suffocating the mites, yet they do nothing to the eggs. Generally, after applying traditional pesticides, two to three days later, all of the eggs from the first generation will hatch, and you will have a second wave of the infestation to deal with. This would mean you’d need to spray again.
Considering the increased regulations that legalized states are imposing, the answer isn’t getting any easier to deal with. Growers can no longer simply spray their crops with effective pesticides to lose these demon-like creatures. Sprays will likely not get past the pesticide tests. Increased regulations, concerns for safety and just plain effectiveness are going to be the driving forces behind this change.
How To Identify Mites on Infested Plants
Mites are closely related to ticks and even spiders. There are many types of mites and some more common than others.
Spider Mites – these tiny bugs (less than 1-mm long) are probably the most common (and most hated) of all indoor garden pests. They are actually little arachnids and because of their small size you may not notice them until they do serious damage to your plants.
There are two reliable ways to spot an infestation: one, look for spider-like webbing. Two, take a tissue and wipe gently on the underside of leaves–if it comes back with streaks of Spider Mite blood–you know you have mites.
Spider Mite predator: Western mites, Amblyseius andersoni, Neoseiulus amblyseius, californicus & Amblyseius swirskii are among the effective predators against spider mites.
– are so tiny they’re impossible to see with the naked eye, and still really difficult to see with a microscope. Broad mites reproduce prolifically between 70-80º F. They hatch in two-to-three days and each female can produce 40-50 eggs. Broad mites inject a toxic growth
hormone into the plant that slows and distorts growth. Look for leaves with the edges turned up as if your plant is suffering from heat stress–and your plant can even take on a glossy appearance that looks like fake plastic leaves. Eventually, these leaves will turn yellow or bronze then die.
Broad Mite predators: Amblyseius andersoni, Neoseiulus amblyseius, californicus & Amblyseius swirskii
Hemp Russet Mites
– Lack of plant vigor, curled or taco-shaped leaves, yellowing and dropping of leaves. Hemp Russet Mites are the newest plague to hit cannabis growers. They cause severe damage and can spell disaster to any grow, from small to large. Many gardeners don’t even know they have them until it is too late.unlike spider mites, these leave no webbing. Visible damage to your plant, like the Broad Mite, is usually the first signs of an infestation. Unlike most varieties of mites, they only have two pair of legs. They start low on the plant then work their way up, so check slightly above wherever a plant is showing stress with a microscope that’s at least 14x power.
Hemp Russet predator: Amblyseius Anderson
Cyclamen Mites – are very similar to broad mites. They’re less than 0.2 mm long and can be colorless to green or brownish. They have 8 legs. Male cyclamen mites have a very strong claw mounted at the end of each fourth leg. They avoid light and prefer high humidity and cool 60º F (15º C) temperatures. Like the spider mite, they feed on the cells of your plants by sucking it out with their mouths. Their feeding causes stunted growth with leaves generally curling upward. Leaves get stiffened and brittle and flowers are deformed or reduced.
Cyclamen Mite Predator: Amblyseius andersoni and Amblyseius swirskii
Types of Predatory Mites
One of the first commercially produced biocontrol agents, back in the late 1960s, was Phytoseiulus persimilis, a predatory mite to control two spotted spider mite(TSSM). Since then several other species of predatory mites have been introduced to control a range of different pests: Amblyseius cucumeris, Amblyseius swirskii, Ambyseius californicus and many others.
The thing that all these species have in common — they are predatory mites, not insects. One significant difference between insect and mite biocontrol agents is that mites cannot fly, meaning success with predatory mites depends a lot on choosing the right introduction method.
Persimilis and californicus are some of the more common predatory mites, but there are several other types of mites that are released in different climates, species of pests and growing conditions. With this arsenal of mites at your disposal, you can fend off spider mites, thrips, broad mites, whiteflies, fungus gnats and more. These are equally effective if you’re growing indoors, outdoors or greenhouse. Predator mites really have your back and will help your grow pass state-mandated pesticide tests.
Mites are tiny, but you can usually spot them with the unaided eye. They may look like insects, but they actually belong to the same family as ticks and spiders. Many species of mites exist, several of which commonly affect humans. Different types of mites like specific kinds of environments.
Specifics About Predator Environmental Requirements
Mite Predator, Amblyseius andersoni – Survives on Mites, Thrips, pollen, honeydew and fungi making them great for both preventative and active control measure. 42-100°F, higher RH for higher temperatures
Mite Predator, Amblyseius swirskii – Rapid development and wide-ranging food sources are two of their main benefits. Commonly used for Mite, Thrips and Whitefly infestations. 60-85°F, 70% RH
Mite Predator, Neosiulus fallacis – Thrives in moderate to cool conditions with higher humidity levels; highly recommended in greenhouse settings. 55-80°F, 50%+ RH
Mite Predator, Neoseiulus californicus – Versatile and tolerant of a wider range of temperatures and lower humidity than P. Persimilis. 50-105°F, 40-80% RH
Thrips Predator, Amblyseius cucumeris – Great when used alongside Orius insidiosus and in greenhouse releases. 66-80°F, 65-72% RH
Anderline biological control agent contains the predatory mite, Amblyseius andersoni. It is a predatory mite that feeds on many types of small arthropod prey and pollen. It is ideal for preventive protection of greenhouse or outdoor ornamentals, vegetables and fruit crop
Amblyseius andersoni Key Features:
Predator of two-spotted spider mite, European red mites, broad mites, cyclamen mites and russet mites. Will also feed on pollen and thrips larvae allowing the population to survive when pest mite populations decrease. Since it is effective at lower temperatures, Amblyseius andersoni can be introduced much earlier in the growing season than other predatory mites.
Two-spotted spider mite
Tomato russet/rust mite
European red mite
History of Release Methods of Predatory Mites
In 1989, a major change was developed that has impacted how many predatory mites are available today. It all started with a single stem flower flask (bottle), in the Netherlands known as ‘Anthurium flesjes.’ One cucumber grower filled some of the flasks with Amblyseius cucumeris and carrier material and placed them in the crop to release predatory mites every day. The results were incredible and many other cucumber growers followed this example. This was the “birth” of CRS sachets (Control Release System) and many growers started using this technique to introduce predatory mites.
How does it work? Amblyseius cucumeris (and several other Amblyseius species) are produced on bran mite species, hence the bran as a carrier. The typical ratio between predatory mite and bran (feeder) mite is 1:10. These sachets are literally an extension of the production that takes place at the biocontrol producers. The main advantage of using breeding sachets versus broadcasting is more than less frequent introductions. It has also been proven repeatedly that the use of breeding sachets gives more consistent and higher levels of predatory mites, which means higher success rates of using biological control.
Modifications for the Ornamental Industry
In the early 2000s, when biocontrol started to become more popular in the ornamental industry, it became clear the CRS system wasn’t suited to ornamental crops. The first development was the gemini sachet (2002), which is two sachets connected together so they can be hung over a mesh crop support wire (like a saddle on a horse) in cut flower production, primarily cut chrysanthemum. As this technique was still labor intensive, the next development was the bugline (2006), later followed by Certirol. This is a long roll of continuous sachets where only every third or sixth sachet is filled with mites; this is rolled out over the mesh crop support wire, saving labor and at the same time creating a ‘mite highway’ for better distribution of mites.
Over time, the concept of release sachets has continued to evolve, with the most recent development starting in Canada in 2014. Several ornamental and vegetable propagators were stapling sachets to plant labels or popsicle sticks to introduce the sachets even earlier in the production process. Timing of establishing predatory mites is “make or break” for success, so the earlier the better. The biocontrol industry responded by developing the sachet on a stick (2014). As these sachets are used in propagation (and outdoors), where overhead mist or water is a given fact, the sachets are produced with water-resistant paper and the exit hole is protected so water cannot get in. Once again, the uptake of this type of sachet was broader than expected, with many growers choosing to switch to the stick sachet because it is easier to place.
Do I Broadcast/Blow or Stick/Hang Predatory Mites?
Despite the invention and uptake of sachets, in some situations Amblyseius predatory mites are still applied by broadcasting or using modified leaf blowers. This is mostly done when it is thought that it is not cost effective to use a sachet.
If blowing, it is important to monitor the survival of the mites and the quality of the distribution, this can be done using a large white cardboard sheet. Gas powered blowers are known to have low survival rates. Another critical issue when broadcasting is using weekly applications, as there is very little reproduction happening in the crop.
Once taking losses and labor into account, many growers realize that blowing or broadcasting weekly at 10 mites per square foot often costs the same as using sachets. The key point is that, in general, breeding sachets have shown to result in more consistent and higher numbers of predatory mites, which means higher success rates of biocontrol programs.
While it may be counter-intuitive to put bugs on your plants in order to rid you of a different bug, it is safe and effective. If you want to survive in a world of regulated cannabis, predator mites are soon likely to become your new best friend in the constant war on spider mites. Even if you do not have to abide by testing standards, you should consider the health and safety benefits of predators, not only for yourself and your employees, but especially for your customers and your planet.
More ways to identify mites:
Grow Hack: Predatory Mites on the Attack!
Know your enemy, Sun Tzu, The Art of War
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.
Remediate means to solve a problem, and bio-remediate means to use biological micro-organisms to solve an environmental problem such as contaminated soil or groundwater. Micro-organisms, or microbes, are very small organisms, such as bacteria, that naturally live in the environment.
Bioremediation methods stimulates the growth of certain microbes that use contaminants as a source of food and energy. Contaminants treated using bioremediation include petroleum products, solvents, unwanted nutrients and pesticides. This article’s main focus is removing excess nitrogen phosphorus and potassium (NPK) from growing soil.
In this article we will review different kinds of pollution that can effect your crops. Water and soil are the main players. However, too many nutrients, contrary to popular teaching, also play a part to inhibit the crop you are dreaming to grow.
Pollution associated problems are a major concern for society. Even with environmental laws becoming more strict, there still remains the need for awareness to control legal pollutants to lower soil pollution in general. Pollution is a man-made phenomenon, arising either when the concentrations of naturally occurring substances are increased or when non-natural synthetic compounds (xenobiotics) are released into the environment. Organic and inorganic substances which are released into the environment as a result of domestic, agricultural and industrial water activities lead to organic and inorganic pollution (Mouchet, 1986; Lim et al., 2010). It’s important to note that soil pollution and water pollution are not to be separated out since contaminants from the soil run off into the water.
One of the major sources of water pollution is the uncontrolled discharge of human and animal wastes. This has resulted in harmful contamination of water resources, increased flooding and reduced health benefits from water investments. (See our article for full explanation https://smartgrow.systems/2017/09/npk-happy-medium-necessary-evil/) Finding a solution for the treatment and safe discharge of the wastewater is a difficult challenge because it entails integrated processes in which technical, economic and financial consideration come in play. The uniqueness of each situation makes it difficult to define a universal method for selecting the most adequate type of waste treatment plant. Both conventional and innovative methods should be evaluated.
The bio-treatment of wastewater with algae to remove nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus and to provide oxygen for aerobic bacteria was proposed over 50 years ago by Oswald and Gotaas (1957). Since then there have been numerous laboratory and pilot studies of this process and several sewage treatment plants using various versions of this systems have been constructed (Shelef et al., 1980; Oswald, 1988a,b; Shi et al., 2007; Zhu et al., 2008).
The nitrogen in sewage effluent arises primarily from metabolic interconversions of extraderived compounds, whereas 50% or more of phosphorus arises from synthetic detergents. Their removal is known as nutrient stripping (Horan, 1990). The adverse effects of nutrient enrichment in receiving sensitive bodies of water can cause eutrophication by stimulating the growth of unwanted plants such as algae and aquatic macrophytes.
An algal bloom is a rapid increase or accumulation in the population of algae in freshwater or marine water systems, and is recognized by the discoloration in the water from their pigments. Outbreaks or blooms can injure animals or the ecology are called “harmful algal blooms” (HAB), and can lead to fish die-offs, cities cutting off water to residents, or states having to close fisheries.
REDUCING SOIL POLLUTION
Reducing nitrogen in soil can be done with patience and knowledge
Lowering Soil Nitrogen Content
In order to remove excess nitrogen in soil, you need to bind the nitrogen that is in the soil to something else. Fortunately, as a gardener, you probably grow many things that bind nitrogen — in other words, plants. Any plant will use some nitrogen in the soil, but plants like squash, cabbage, broccoli and corn use up large amounts of nitrogen while growing. By growing these plants where there is too much nitrogen in soil, the plants will use up the excess nitrogen. Be aware though, that while they will grow there, plants may look sickly and will not produce many fruits or flowers. Keep in mind that you are not growing these plants for food purposes, but rather as sponges that will help lower soil nitrogen content.
Using Mulch for Removing Excess Nitrogen in Soil
Many people use mulch in their garden and have problems with the mulch depleting the nitrogen in the soil as it breaks down. When you have too much nitrogen in the soil, you can use this normally frustrating problem to your benefit. You can lay mulch over the soil with too much nitrogen to help draw out some of the excess nitrogen in the soil. In particular, cheap, dyed mulch works well for this. Cheap, dyed mulch is generally made from scrap soft woods and these will use higher amounts of nitrogen in the soil as they break down. For this same reason, sawdust can also be used as a mulch to help reduce nitrogen in the soil. When you have too much nitrogen in soil, your plants may look lush and green, but their ability to fruit and flower will be greatly reduced. While you can take steps towards reducing nitrogen in garden soil, it’s best to avoid adding too much nitrogen to the soil in the first place.
Salt, The Silent Killer
The effects of salinity in soil can make it hard to grow. Salt in soil is harmful to plants, which leaves many gardeners affected by this problem wondering how to get rid of salt in the soil.
Steps for Soil Salt Reduction
The first step for reversing soil salinity is to improve your drainage, so find out which way the water flows through your garden or where it drains to. If your garden area is pretty flat, you’ll need to add amended soil to the area and create a slope with the soil to provide good drainage. If you have some slope to your garden but the soil doesn’t drain well, then amending of the soil with things like an organic material will help create better drainage throughout the garden area. That drainage still must go somewhere, thus installing perforated piping that runs in a trench sloped away from the garden area is a good way to take drainage water away. The trench must be deep enough to take the drainage water away that has come through the root zone area of your plants. It is recommended to add some pea-sized gravel up to ¾-inch size to the trench. The gravel will act as the bedding for the perforated piping that is then laid into the trench.
Reducing Phosphorous Levels
High phosphorous levels in your soil are usually the culprit of over-fertilizing or adding too much manure. Not only does excessive phosphorous harm plants, it can also stay in your soil for years. While there’s nothing you can do to lower phosphorous levels immediately, options do exist to continue feeding your plants the nutrients they need without introducing more phosphorous.
CAUTION: Avoid adding manure as fertilizer. Manure is typically high in phosphorous and can quickly lead to a spike in phosphorous levels. Plants can usually remove slightly excessive amounts of phosphorous, but there’s a limit to how much phosphorous each plant can remove each year.
Keeping Potassium a Healthy Balance
When present in the soil in proper amounts, potassium helps with photosynthesis, the process by which plants manufacture their own food using the sun’s energy; helps plants absorb other nutrients more efficiently; creates a favorable environment for microbacterial action; and provides turgor, or the ability of plants to stay upright. Distribute excess potassium more evenly by thoroughly working dense soil until it is loose and friable. Dilute and flush out large amounts of potassium by watering the soil any time it appears dry to a depth of one inch. Schedule any fertilizing within several weeks before planting, so that the potassium doesn’t have time to accumulate during the off-season. To minimize long-term potassium buildup, consider using aged or composted animal manure as a substitute for commercial fertilizers, as its components break down more slowly to keep up with plant demand. If using manure, apply it at a rate of 40 pounds for every 100 feet, and work it into the soil to a depth of 6 to 9 inches.
THERE’S A BETTER WAY
Soil pH, putting those microbes to work
The middle of the range on the soil pH scale is the best range for bacterial growth in the soil to promote decomposition. The decomposition process releases nutrients and minerals into the soil, making them available for the plants or shrubs to use. Soil fertility depends on pH. The mid range is also perfect for micro-organisms that convert the nitrogen in the air into a form which the plants can readily use. When the pH rating is outside the mid range, both of these extremely important processes become more and more inhibited, thus locking up the nutrients in the soil such that the plant cannot take them up and use them to their full advantage.
Over fertilization is the most common problem associated with using conventional fertilizers. This not only results in stunted growth and burnt foliage but can make plants more vulnerable to pests and diseases too.
MAKING SOIL REUSABLE
How to remove small root systems to condition and reuse soil
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle are the 3 R’s you may have learned in grade school. For commercial grows, the cost of totally replacing soil after each grow is part of the cost of doing business for small to larger scale grows. However, it doesn’t need to be such a high price. Smart Grow has found that this may be an unnecessarily high cost, that reusing the soil will keep the total cost down and either raise your profits or lower the prices to your customers. This keeps you on a competitive playing field.
ORIGINAL CHO PURPLE FORMULA — to recondition soil after harvest and before reuse.
Directions For Use For Soil Amendment Treatment:
Mix 3 fl.oz. of Purple Formula into a gallon of water to treat one cubic foot of potting soil.
Mix 2 fl.oz. of Green Formula into a gallon of water to treat one cubic foot of potting soil
pH Down: Use 1/8 to 1/4 tsp per gallon to lower pH.
ORIGINAL CHO GREEN FORMULA — An acidic solution to buffer pH of water and nutrients.
Directions For Use: 1.5oz of SGS Green Formula Activator must be incorporated into 2.5 gallons of SGS Green Formula before use. Agitate prior to use and as needed to maintain consistency. Perform soil jar test prior to mixing with fertilizers. Can also be applied in drip lines or sprinkler irrigations.
HELPFUL GROW TIPS:
What to do with root base from previous grow?: When you complete your grow, use your root base as a carbon source. Use a wood chipper to grind your hard root and add it back to your soil as an excellent carbon biosource. It’s good material to use for carbon because it’s not burnt and the molicules stay intact.
Using Alfalfa replentishes trace NPK
Apply 1 yard alfalfa to 3 yards soil
10 Reasons To Use Alfalfa in your soil
1. Good Source of Minerals
Alfalfa is a good source of nitrogen, along with several other minerals including:
phosphorus – potassium – calcium – sulfur – magnesium – boron – iron – zinc
2. Builds Organic Matter
Alfalfa builds organic matter in your soil providing nutrients to plant roots. Its high nitrogen content helps other organic material to decompose. Organic matter also helps to prevent compaction, acts like a sponge and holds moisture in the soil, improves soil structure, and helps to prevent erosion.
3. Feeds Microorganisms
The microorganisms in your soil love alfalfa because of the protein, amino acids, fiber and sugars in its stalk – items they need to thrive. Alfalfa hay has an almost perfect balance of carbon to nitrogen (24:1) which soil organisms require.
4. Stimulates Growth
Alfalfa contains triacontanol, a hormone which stimulates the growth of plant roots, enhances photosynthesis, and increases beneficial microbes which help to suppress many soil-borne diseases.
5. Fixes Nitrogen
Alfalfa actually takes nitrogen from the air and holds it as nodules on its roots, a process called “nitrogen fixing”. This nitrogen becomes available in the soil for other plants to use when the alfalfa plant is cut down and its roots are left in the soil, or when the plant is turned into the soil.
6. Stimulates Compost
When added to your compost pile, alfalfa acts as a stimulator. It decomposes rapidly, creating heat which helps the rest of your compost to decompose. And your finished compost will have higher nutrient levels when alfalfa is used. Higher nutrient levels in your compost and soil means more nutrient-dense produce in your garden.
7. Controls Harmful Nematodes
A study in Italy showed that alfalfa pellets significantly reduced infestation of root-knot nematode on tomato plants, and cyst nematode on carrots. As an added bonus, yields for both tomatoes and carrots were increased in comparison to the control groups.
8. Provides Drought Resistance
Because of alfalfa’s sponge-like ability to absorb and hold moisture, it helps plants grown in that soil to be more resistant to periods of low rain.
9. Is a Dynamic Accumulator
Alfalfa roots reach down into the sub-soil up to 8 feet, bringing valuable hard-to-reach nutrients up to the soil surface where they are stored in the leaves of the plant. Using the cut alfalfa in your garden and compost adds these nutrients to the upper layers of your soil where other garden plants can use them. Alfalfa is particularly good at bringing iron to the surface, a micro-nutrient needed for chlorophyll synthesis.
10. Is a Great Cover Crop
Leaving garden beds bare in the winter leaves them exposed to the harsh elements of weather. They should always be mulched, or a cover crop should be planted. Also known as “green manure”, cover crops are generally planted in the fall and then dug into the soil in the spring to improve soil. The crop may also be cut down at the soil level and used as a mulch, rather than digging it in. All of the above benefits (with the exception of #9) would apply.
SECRET IS NOT ALLOWING SOIL POLLUTION IN THE FIRST PLACE
How to avoid the majority of water and soil contamination
Excessive nitrogen and phosphorus that washes into water bodies and is released into the air are often the direct result of human activities. The primary sources of nutrient pollution are:
Agriculture: Animal manure, excess fertilizer applied to crops and fields, and soil erosion make agriculture one of the largest sources of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in the country
Stormwater: When precipitation falls on our cities and towns, it runs across hard surfaces – like rooftops, sidewalks and roads – and carries pollutants, including nitrogen and phosphorus, into local waterways.
Wastewater: Our sewer and septic systems are responsible for treating large quantities of waste, and these systems do not always operate properly or remove enough nitrogen and phosphorus before discharging into waterways.
Fossil Fuels: Electric power generation, industry, transportation and agriculture have increased the amount of nitrogen in the air through use of fossil fuels.
In and Around the Home: Fertilizers, yard and pet waste, and certain soaps and detergents contain nitrogen and phosphorus, and can contribute to nutrient pollution if not properly used or disposed of. The amount of hard surfaces and type of landscaping can also increase the runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus during wet weather.
Over fertilization is due to poor knowledge of how much plants really need. The aftermath of this lack of knowledge is massive pollution which is throwing off the balance of our environment. Dealing with it in the present is the key to resolving the issue. This means we need to learn how to remove the excess and apply new ways of providing nutrient to our crops. Not only will this make our crops grow better but it’ll start to resolve this massive pollution problem. It’s every person’s responsibility to do their parts so in the future we can have luscious crops along with clean water and soil.
Salt In Soil – Reversing Soil Salinity
Natural nutrient removal
CHO carbon hydrogen oxygen
Plant Tissue Culture which has been around for decades, is a way to reproduce new plants from the mother tissue and is used as an alternative to cloning. It originated as a solution for hard to germinate orchids, but has been “sprouting” this new standard throughout the cannabis community and shows great promise for high production farming.
More specifically, plant tissue culture is a collection of techniques used to maintain or grow plant cells or tissues under sterile and virus free conditions and growing them with a nutrient aid such as ORIGINAL CHO ORANGE FORMULA
— A bio-based clone and seed treatment to buffer pH.
Benefits Of Micropropagation
Plant tissue culture is widely used to produce clones of a plant and this technique is known as micropropagation
. Different techniques in plant tissue culture may offer certain advantages over traditional methods of propagation, including:
- The production of exact copies of plants that produce particularly good flowers, fruits, or have other desirable traits.
- To quickly produce mature plants.
- The production of multiples of plants in the absence of seeds or necessary pollinators to produce seeds.
- The regeneration of whole plants from plant cells that have been genetically modified.
- The production of plants in sterile containers that allows them to be moved with greatly reduced chances of transmitting diseases, pests, and pathogens.
- The production of plants from seeds that otherwise have very low chances of germinating and growing.
- To clear particular plants of viral and other infections and to quickly multiply these plants as ‘cleaned stock’ for horticulture and agriculture.
- Plant tissue culture relies on the fact that many plant cells have the ability to regenerate a whole plant (totipotency). Single cells, plant cells without cell walls (protoplasts), pieces of leaves, stems or roots can often be used to generate a new plant on culture media given the required nutrients and plant hormones.
Overview Steps In The Process
Preparation of plant tissue for tissue culture is performed under aseptic conditions under HEPA
air. The tissue is then grown in sterile containers, such as petri dishes or flasks in a growth room with controlled temperature and light intensity. This is because living plant materials from the environment are naturally contaminated on their surfaces (and sometimes interiors) with microorganisms, so their surfaces are sterilized in chemical solutions (usually alcohol and sodium or calcium hypochlorite) before suitable explants
are taken. The sterile explants are then usually placed on the surface of a sterile solid culture medium, but are sometimes placed directly into a sterile liquid medi um, particularly when cell suspension cultures are desired. Solid and liquid media are generally composed of inorganic salts plus a few organic nutrients, vitamins and plant hormones. Solid media are prepared from liquid media with the addition of a gelling agent, usually purified agar
The composition of the medium, particularly the plant hormones and the nitrogen source (nitrate versus ammonium salts or amino acids) have profound effects on the morphology of the tissues that grow from the initial explant
. For example, an excess of auxin will often result in a proliferation of roots, while an excess of cytokinin
may yield shoots. As cultures grow, pieces are typically sliced off and subcultured onto new media to allow for growth or to alter the morphology of the culture.
As shoots emerge from a culture, they may be sliced off and rooted with auxin to produce plantlets which, when mature, can be transferred to potting soil for further growth in the greenhouse as normal plants.
Micropropagation VS Traditional Cloning
The cost benefits become evident when comparing micropropagation to traditional cloning or seed propagation. A traditional indoor farming operation requires care that is costly: daily watering and fertilizer, electricity for LED lights and climate control, and space required to house the plants. When you’re talking about a large scale commercial operation, the prices climb steadily. Micropropagation cultures, however, are surprisingly low maintenance. They need to be divided and transferred to a new grow medium every 4 to 6 weeks. The only maintenance is periodic observation to be sure all is going as planned.
Micropropagation also allows for the generation of thousands of plants in a very short time period with very small square footage, something that would be impractical with traditional cloning techniques. To help put this in perspective, think about this: If properly cared for, one explant will multiply indefinitely.
Pros and Cons
- Space saver, much less storage is required to preserve genetics
- Provides exact replicas of the mother plant, creates uniform offspring
- Sterile Environment reduces risk of pests and disease
- Speeds up the breeding / pheno-hunting process
- Able to produce an endless amount of plants from one “cutting” (explant).
- Minimal daily care
- Allows for year-round propagation
- Steep build-out investment for a large-scale operation
- Requires patience, takes more time than traditional cloning if conducted on a small scale
- Requires extreme attention to detail
- Sterile/controlled environment is necessary
Micropropagation could be an alternative to cloning in the future, but implementing tissue culture labs at every farm is somewhat impractical. If you look at the fruit tree industry, that is not what is happening. Large-scale fruit tree cultivators often source their micropropagated clones from an experienced nursery. As the cannabis industry expands and becomes integrated throughout the states, farms are likely to follow a similar model.
Details In Getting Started
However in the meantime, cannabis farms are establishing personal tissue culture labs left and right. So what about the logistics of creating your very own lab-grade micropropagation lab.
– Laminar Flow Hood
– HEPA Filter
– Magnetic stirrer
– pH measure
– Glass measuring gradual
– Culture bottle with lid
– Dissection tools (Forceps, spatula, scalpel, tweezers, scissors)
– Conical flasks
– Pipette measuring
– Aluminum foil
– Disinfectants (Ethanol, Clorox, Tween 20)
– Bunsen burner (to sterilize equipment)
The first step
of micropropagation process is prepping the media. The media used during the first stage of
micropropagation is a nutrient-rich substrate filled with chemical compounds designed for growing cultures, essentially food for the plant tissue. Recipes and techniques are constantly changing as scientists experiment and adapt to what suits plant cultures best.
Pre-mixed medias are available to purchase online, which I recommend. You can always make your own but the recipe calls for a variety of uncommon nutrients. For those who are curious, here’s what goes into the average micropropagation media:
– Macronutrients: NH4NO3, KNO3, CaCl2.2H2O, MgSO4 7H2O, KH2PO4
– Gamborg’s B5 Vitamins: Myo-inositol, Nicotinic Acid, Pyridoxine, Thiamine HCI
– Micronutrients: H3BO3, MnSO4.H2O, ZnSO4.7H2O, KI, Na2MoO4.2H2O, CuSO4.5H2O, CoCl2.6H2O
– Coconut water (optional)
– Distilled Water
– The pH is then adjusted to 5.8 using hydrochloric acid or sodium hydroxide.
The next step
is prepping the explant (plant material). Freshly sprouted nodes, the newest growth on the mother plant, is the best source material because it hasn’t had a chance to be exposed to diseases or pathogens. Once the cutting has been taken, the plant material needs to be heavily disinfected or else we risk the growth of unwanted cultures. To clean, simply place your explant in a test tube with ethanol, swish around for a couple minutes, drain, and repeat the process one more time. Discard the ethanol and rinse your plant material (still in the test tube) with distilled water. Discard the water and leave the plant material in a laminar flow hood to dry.
Once the explant is prepped, it’s time to sterilize the work station and all material with ethanol. This step requires a conical flask and forceps which both need to be sterilized. Once the conical flask is filled with the media, the explant is transferred to the flask and sealed with a cap or covered with aluminum foil.
Flasks need to be kept in a mild-temperature environment with plenty of light. And before you know it, infant seedlings will begin to form in a couple weeks!
After a month or two, depending on the plant, the seedling will be noticeably developed and ready for transplant.
Since the seedlings were created in such a sterile, controlled environment, it’s important not to shock them during transplant. A small terrarium or greenhouse environment is recommended as humidity and temperature should not fluctuate for the first week. You can make your own humidity dome with a plastic bag placed over the individual pot — poke a few holes in the bag and spray with water and voila, you have a humidity chamber.
Over the next couple of weeks, slowly harden off the plantlet by gradually exposing it to a more dry and bright environment.
As long as the media is kept fresh and changed every 4-6 weeks, plant genetics can be preserved via plant tissue culture for many years.
This technology has the potential to produce plants unlike anything produced through conventional cloning. The process of culturing cannabis rejuvenates old, mature plant tissue into a healthy, vigorously growing juvenile state, in some ways like newborn seedlings. This plant fountain of youth gives cultured plants many new advantages for growers: higher yields, stronger growth, and better resilience to environmental stress. Plus, mass production of high quality disease free clones mean greater availability and variety for growers. I hope this information shows you that getting started with plant tissue culture isn’t as intimidating as it’s made out to be.
During this Thanksgiving week, we are surely giving thanks for the ASABE ES-311 committee whose continuous efforts are waging momentum in the LED standards.
ES-311 Electromagnetic Radiation Application for Plants
Lead and coordinate the activities of ASABE in matters related to LEDs and other electromagnetic radiation source applications for plant growth and development.
X640, Radiation Metrics for Plant Growth Applications in Controlled Environment
X642, Recommended methods of measurements and testing for LED radiation products in plant growth and development applications.
Today LEDS Magazine released an article on the advancements of the committee for standards of LED horticulture lights. So far the most current lighting standards are based on human sensitivity to light specifically for green/yellow and against blue and red light. Plants utilize light for photosynthesis and adjust their developmental processes – e.g., seed germination, stem elongation, and other morphogenic responses and circadian rhythms – according to light signals perceived through different photoreceptors.
Many plant biologists believe that photoreceptors absorb radiation from approximately 280-800 nm. Today, many LED lighting fixtures for horticultural applications provide the so-called broadband and continuous spectra and they are developed specifically for plants. Using human-biased lighting standards, their efficiency is low, yet from a plant perspective, their efficiency is high. Therefore, some of the current lighting standards for LEDs are not appropriate for plant applications. The task force has completed the drafted standard titled “Quantities and Units of Electromagnetic Radiation for Plants (Photosynthetic Organisms).” According to the scope, this document provides definitions and descriptions of metrics used for radiation measurements for plant (photosynthetic organism) growth, development, and production. This document does not cover display aspects and human visualization.
In over one year of document development, the draft has gone through two ballots and it is in the final finishing stage. This standard provides comprehensive information on the metrics used in horticultural applications including terminologies, quantities, and units. Because of the plant-to-optical-radiation response from the 280-800-nm wavelength range, the standard encompasses, besides the Photosynthetically Active Radiation or PAR band from 400-700 nm, the ultraviolet radiation band from 280-400 nm, and the far-red radiation band from 700-800 nm. Indeed, the entire plant response range from 280-800 nm is designated the Plant Biologically Active Radiation, or PBAR, band.
In this standard, the commonly used quantities for plant biological applications are grouped into two sections: radiation measurements (physics based) and photon measurements (chemistry based). With a conversion factor that includes Avogadro’s number, Planck’s constant, the speed of light, for any given or specific wavelength, a spectral radiant flux measured in the unit of watts per nm, a photon flux value is calculated in the unit of micromoles per second. Radiation measurements include radiant flux, radiant intensity, radiant efficiency, and all plant biology-related specifics. Photon measurements include photon flux, photon flux density, photon intensity, photon efficacy, daily light integral, and other quantities.
As for the plant response and sensitivity to radiation, it is widely recognized that different plant species, and even cultivars, respond to radiation with different sensitivities, through the processes of photosynthesis, photomorphogenesis, and photoperiodicity. However, for the purpose of defining metrics that reflect objective measurements, the standard is to have no weighting functions to be used in measuring and reporting radiant flux, photon flux, and/or irradiance.
Test and measurement
The second task force has focused on the development of a testing or measurement document, and the draft is titled “Recommended Methods of Measurements and Testing for LED Radiation Products for Plant Growth and Development.” In today’s practice, LED radiation products (lamps or fixtures) have been widely used in plant growth and development applications. These products have demonstrated higher effectiveness and energy-saving potential. However, standardized methods of measurements for these products have not been established.
In order to recognize the benefits of these products, the ASABE ES-311 committee believes that reliable, repeatable, and consistent test and measurement methods must be established. The standard requirements have to be refined to give clear information to plant growers about the light or radiation provided within the plant growth spectrum, and maybe some specific requirements for plant growth and applications have to be established.
Measurements for horticultural lighting and associated testing equipment have not been standardized, and this has presented a wide range of inconsistencies. Lighting equipment manufacturers would like to have consistent methods of measurement for evaluating the characteristics or properties of the products. On the other hand, plant growers would like to have reliable measurements that quantify the amount of radiation on the plant surface or photons at the plant levels.
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Matching measurement to metrics
With all the metrics for the measured quantities and the units defined and described in the first standard, this second standard should provide users with methods for measuring and obtaining the defined quantities. From the lighting equipment point of view, the measurements may be divided into two levels: the lighting source (such as LEDs) level and lighting fixture level. As for the measured results, they can also be divided into two areas: single measurements and long-term or ongoing performance and changes.
In particular, if the ongoing changes effort is to reflect longevity of the product, the corresponding environmental impacts such as temperature and humidity will be considered. In the past few years, the standard development work performed in the IES (Illuminating Engineering Society) Testing Procedures Committee and the published LM documents can be a good basis for this ASABE standard. However, in developing the application-based measurements, that testing procedure has been presented with a wide range of challenges. There have been a large variety of field measurement instruments in the plant growth community. Many of them are handheld devices. Some are spectrum measurement devices and others are intended for measuring light levels. Almost all of them are using some converting calculations with a given weighting-factor to report measured results as per human eye response, illuminance or chromaticity.
On top of that inconsistency, the uncertainty or degree of accuracy may also vary from type to type or brand to brand. In the recent ASABE ES-311 committee meetings, a smart spectrometer called the Lighting Passport from Asensetek was demonstrated (see nearby photos). This equipment presents several new measurement capabilities: One is the integration of apps with smart devices. The measured results can be transmitted via Bluetooth and viewed and analyzed remotely. Furthermore, it’s operated with a specific app for agricultural/horticultural lighting that includes a single-measurement mode, a multiple-measurement mode, and a daily mode for long period observation.
The task force for developing the testing standard has been collaborating with laboratory lighting measurement experts and field measurement equipment makers whose needs are both essential to the industry.
With the progress made in writing the metrics and testing standards, the third task force was formed to develop a performance standard. Plants, with their photosynthetic and photomorphogenic transduction biochemical pathways, require an electromagnetic radiant environment that differs in significant ways from the needs of people or animals. Key questions include: What is the effect of electromagnetic radiation? What should be the efficiency of such radiation in generating horticultural lighting products? And how efficient should these products be in terms of energy consumption?
In order to address these questions, there is a need to establish a performance measurement standard for the electromagnetic radiation system. These measures are different from the measures of human eye response to the light, such as luminous efficacy, CCT, CRI, etc. The purpose of this standard is to provide users with guidelines for appropriate performance measures and design characteristics for the electromagnetic radiation system used for plants. These measures may be able to characterize effectiveness, efficiency, and energy consumption.
The task force has been focused on the scope of the document, which is to provide guidance on measures for reporting electromagnetic output and efficacy of individual horticultural lighting products used for plant applications. The standard will address the products used for assimilative lighting as well as those used for photomorphogenic control, i.e., day-length extension, but it does not address operating conditions or serviceability issues. Furthermore, the task force agreed that the standard should be intended to be descriptive rather than prescriptive.
The experts in the committee are aware that not all measures are appropriate for all plant lighting systems and applications. Therefore, the document may not prescribe a specific wavelength range or weighting factor for reporting performance, but it expects that this data will be included when the performance is reported. Utility companies and energy management programs have expressed interests in categorizing horticultural lighting product energy-consumption measures, which may be used for incentivizing energy saving products. Thus an objective performance standard is necessary.
The ASABE ES-311 committee is on the right track to pave the path to standardize horticultural lighting metrics, testing, and performance. These standards will reflect the collaboration of the expertise, knowledge, experiences, and best practices from metrology scientists, product developers, plant biologists and growers, as well as energy management authorities. The results should have long-term benefits for the fast-growing horticulture industry.
DR. JIANZHONG JIAO, an internationally recognized lighting expert, is an independent consultant for LEDs and lighting technologies. He has been actively involved in LED and LED lighting standard development activities, technical conferences, and industry consortia. Currently he serves on the IESNA Testing Procedures, Roadway Lighting, Computer, and Light Source Committees. He is also vice chair of the ANSI SSL Light Source Working Groups, and at present works with many other technical organizations, groups, and symposia, in addition to being a member of the Technical Panel of Strategies in Light. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emerging Sector in Commercial Horticulture for Cannabis
There’s no question legal cannabis (marijuana) is going to be an important high-value cash crop wherever it’s legal. By the year 2020, according to a forecast by the analyst firm Arcview Market Research, legal marijuana sales will surpass $21 billion, a number that is more than double the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s estimate for the sales of wheat. The sheer enormity of this market is attracting a lot of research and development into how to grow cannabis better. “Better” means different things to different people in the industry. It could mean higher content of cannabinoids, the chemical compounds that make marijuana valuable for both medical and recreational use. It could mean more efficiency, using less resources and energy to grow a crop to harvest. It could mean reducing the time it takes to go from seed to harvest so growers can increase the number of harvests per year.To one company in Central Oregon, it means all three.
Smart Grow Systems, founded six years ago in Sisters, develops vertical farming systems. An emerging sector in commercial horticulture, vertical farming is a form of indoor farming where crops are grown in shelves on racks. This week Smart Grow debuted a new design in LED grow lighting. Called GOLDENi, it’s the first LED grow lighting system engineered specifically for commercial vertical farming, and so far, local cannabis growers think it’s a major game changer. There has been some debate as to whether LED grow lighting is as effective as other grow lights, but Smart Grow boasts its lights have proven results. The key differences are the LED’s color or light spectrum, and the use of a wide frame and hundreds of LEDs to create an even spray of light that covers and penetrates the tops of plants, even when they are densely packed together.
“Switching to LEDs is the smartest business decision we could make,” says Dylan Mcmahon of Deschutes Growery. “We have a reputation for some of the finest organically indoor-grown cannabis flowers in Oregon and are very careful about the choices we make to help reduce our impact on the environment.” Recently Deschutes began upgrading its operation from the more commonly used high pressure sodium grow lamps to a new vertical farming system that features Smart Grow’s GOLDENi lights. The tests it put GOLDENi through provided some startling results.
“We have been able to increase our yields by at least 400 percent per harvest inside the same space and have reduced our carbon footprint by more than 50 percent,” adds Mcmahon. Deschutes Growery believes it will be able to recoup its investment after the first harvest with the help of the Oregon Energy Trust. “Smart Grow LED’s in conjunction with our vertical farming system makes best use of our grower’s producer license by allowing us to maximize our canopy size without adding real estate.”
In Oregon, indoor cannabis growers can grow up to 10,000 square feet of “canopy” – that is, the top layer of the crop. Without vertical farming, a grower needs more than 10,000 square feet of floor space to grow the limit. But Smart Grow was able to help Deschutes Growery create four layers of canopy in a room with only 10-foot ceilings.
“We’re not just creating canopy; we’re creating biomass,” says Darrin Dow, CEO of Smart Grow Systems. “We’re filling a room from floor to ceiling with sellable crop. The plants that grow with our system are shorter, but the sellable product output is at least equal to larger plant yields. It’s all about the flower at the top of the canopy, and we produce a lot more of that as compared to the rest of the plant.” Larger plants have larger trunks and branches which aren’t as valuable or usable, and growing them takes a lot more energy, water, resources and manpower. It also takes longer to grow larger plants. “The veg cycle is that part of the plant’s growth where it gets really big and tall,” explains Dow. “We’re cutting out the veg cycle from the growth cycle, and getting our plants ready for harvest in about half the time it takes other grow methods. But the product — the flower — is as big or bigger, and has a lot more of the compounds used in medicinal marijuana products or are desirable for recreational use.”
“There’s a lot of investment in cannabis right now, and it’s a market that’s exploding not only nationwide, but also in Canada and Mexico. So cannabis is providing lots of opportunity,” says Dow.
Canada is working toward making recreational use of marijuana legal across the country by July 1, 2018, and Mexico’s legislature just approved medical marijuana for that country. But perhaps of more interest to cannabis grow supply vendors in Oregon is that soon medical and recreational marijuana will be legal in California and Nevada. So far, more than 30 states and Washington, DC have made at least medical marijuana legal, and more states are considering legalization this year and next.
Dow explains that marijuana is a very challenging crop to grow well, which coupled with its value attracts a lot of research and development investment. But the technology that’s perfected for cannabis has application with many other crops. “Growers of other cash crops like hops and high cost spices and herbs are also working with us, and we’ve started working with growers on agricultural tissue samples as well.”
“I’ve been using Smart Grow LED lights for several years now and their products started out performing incredibly and have evolved from there to become the single most exciting development in indoor farming I’ve ever seen,” says Brian Turner, owner of Sunriver Organics of Bend. Speaking of Smart Grow’s GOLDENi lights, Turner adds, “I think we’re all looking at the new standard by which all indoor cultivation will soon be measured.”
Dow adds, “There are a lot of businesses in Bend and in the region that have tools, technology and supplies for the legal cannabis industry, and they can really do quite well as that market expands. They’re calling it a Green Rush, and it really is an exciting part of horticulture. What I particularly find exciting is the potential of cannabis driving down costs of all this new horticultural technology so that one day we can help feed the world with far more efficiency and quality.”
BEND, Ore.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–After years of research and in-the-field testing, Smart Grow Systems (smartgrow.systems) today announced the availability of the newest member of its commercial vertical farming system, the GOLDENi™ LED grow light series for propagation and flower. GOLDENi represents a breakthrough in LED grow light technology, surpassing all other horticultural grow lights including currently available commercial LEDs, high pressure sodium (HPS) and high intensity discharge (HID). GOLDENi grow lights produce biomass of exceptional quality crops with substantially improved pound-per-light yields, the most efficient use of space and greatest reduction in power. Key components of Smart Grow’s vertical farming system, GOLDENi for flower and GOLDENix™ for cloning and propagation cut cycle times in vertical farming almost in half. This reduction allows grow operations to easily and affordably scale canopy size and harvests per year, producing 500 percent or more crop inside the same space for some Smart Grow customers.
LED Horticultural Lighting Grows Up with GOLDENi #growlights #verticalfarming
“Smart Grow Systems’ mission is to drive out waste from commercial horticulture,” said Darrin Dow, founder and CEO of Smart Grow Systems. “Smart Grow believes the future of many commercial crops will be vertical farming in a sea of green application, and we are focused on building a comprehensive vertical farming system to maximize biomass production in the available space of any commercial indoor grow operation. Smart Grow has started with ultra-efficient lighting, digital controls and consulting services that help growers understand the biomass potential of their grow spaces: how much sellable, high-quality crop can be grown in a space when the grow area is stacked up to the ceiling.”
At 2 feet by 4 feet, GOLDENi may be the widest grow light on the market, but at 1 inch it’s also the thinnest, maximizing vertical rack space. GOLDENi uses nearly 2000 LED chips to produce an even spray of light with enough intensity to ensure deep canopy penetration for flowering. The GOLDENi light series uses Smart Grow’s new Golden Glow Spectrum™, which was perfected in grow operations to produce dense, resin-rich crops with exceptional terpenes and trichomes. The GOLDENix, using the Baby Blue Spectrum™ tailored for cloning and propagation, uses less than half the LED chips and needs as little as one-sixth the power to create state-of-the-art propagation. GOLDENi lights also include accessory ports so that growers can add spectrum-enhancing modules at certain times in the grow cycle, such as adding red to the final weeks of the flower stage.
“By switching to vertical farming with Smart Grow’s new GOLDENi lights, Deschutes Growery has been able to increase our yields by at least 400 percent per harvest inside the same space, and have reduced our carbon footprint by more than 50 percent,” said Dylan McMahon, engineer at Deschutes Growery in Bend, Ore. “Deschutes Growery has been looking to retrofit our inefficient high intensity HPS lighting for a while but haven’t been able to find the right LEDs that maintain our standard of quality until we found GOLDENi. Smart Grow LED grow lights, in conjunction with our vertical farming system, make best use of our grower’s producer license by allowing us to maximize our canopy size without adding real estate.”
Although GOLDENi delivers the same light intensity as HPS and HID lighting systems, it does so with only a fraction of the heat, allowing light panels to hang within inches of canopies, greatly improving photosynthesis and biomass per watt. The wide luminaire set in a lightweight frame generates widespread powerful photon energy, penetrating the entire canopy with light at optimal wavelengths to ensure healthy plant growth, yet preventing hot spots and other light- or heat-related damage.
Because of the complexities of growing medical and commercial grade marijuana, the legal cannabis industry will appreciate the advances Smart Grow has engineered into the entire grow system and specifically the GOLDENi. The patent-pending GOLDENi and GOLDENix LED grow lights also shorten the grow cycle while improving yields, making 5 and 6 harvests per year easier than ever. A major improvement over the typical blue- and red-dominated LED spectrum, Smart Grow’s Golden Glow and Baby Blue spectra have proven in vertical farm testing to deliver unsurpassed resin production and superior results.
Both GOLDENi and GOLDENix units are Underwriters Laboratories certified (UL) and backed by a 3-year warranty. With UL certification, commercial grow operations and indoor farms across the United States and Canada can install GOLDENi and GOLDENix while meeting or exceeding their building regulations. To address its growing demand, the company has increased its manufacturing capacity to over 20,000 units per month. For more information on GOLDENi, visit smartgrow.systems.
See GOLDENi in action here: https://youtu.be/p9bPZ8uT0LI.
About Smart Grow Systems
Smart Grow Systems is powering a revolution in vertical farming by combining scientific methods and agricultural best practices with cutting-edge technology. With a systems approach focused on vertical farming applications, Smart Grow is making it easier and cost effective to fill spaces with high-quality crops while consuming less resources and reducing the cost per pound. Smart Grow’s indoor vertical farming systems can grow most types of crops year-round, in any location around the world, in an ever-increasing ecofriendly way. For more information visit smartgrow.systems.