Cannabis plants are resilient and resourceful. However, much like any other living organism, cannabis plants need nutrients. Also known as fertilizers, nutrients can be either organic or inorganic. What are the major differences between organic and chemical nutrients? It’s not a matter of which one is better, because they’re good at different things.
Organic fertilizers are described as nutrients that come from organic sources such as animal and vegetable waste. They also extend to sediments like glacial rock dust and gypsum that contain beneficial minerals for the soil and plant. Many growers believe organic-based nutrient systems will create the most fragrant and “smoothest” buds. Some of the best benefits to smell and taste seem to come from using composted soil that’s been amended with nutrients from natural sources. This creates a living soil with colonies of beneficial microorganisms, and is often associated with a bolder taste and smell in buds. However, watering your plants with liquid nutrients that just happen to be organic willlikely not get the same level of results. Another substantial benefit comes from the fact that this fertilization process can repeat itself year after year as the soil continually improves. This makes using organic fertilizers a popular choice for outdoor gardeners who use the same soil repeatedly. Using organics is also preferred for those who want to be more aware and in tune with their natural environment. Organic fertilizers are readily available from renewable sources, and when applied, they ground down in the medium, preventing nutrient run-off and thus making organic fertilizers the earth-friendly option.
The benefits of organic fertilizers:
- Slow release of nutrients protects the plants from overfeeding/burning
- Overtime organic fertilizers can improve the quality and diversity of life in your soil
- Improved airflow and water retention in soil
- Renewable and sustainable
- Organics stay in the soil with a lower chance of nutrient run-off
The disadvantages of organic fertilizers:
- Take time to be absorbed by the plant
- Require microorganisms to break down the nutrients which may slow in colder temperatures
- Can introduce insects and pests
- Organic nutrients are not a good choice for hydroponic systems because any organic matter can cause unwanted stuff to grow in your reservoir.
Chemical fertilizers are synthesized and extracted to a specific chemical form. The nitrogen comes from the aforementioned Haber-Bosch process. Phosphate and potassium are extracted from minerals, and other impurities that can harm the plants are removed. The results of these extractions are highly refined specific quantities of N-P-K nutrients. While organic nutrients may increase the smell and taste of buds, chemical nutrients may increase the potency. Chemical nutrients provide nutrients to plants in the most easy-to-absorb forms possible. This results in somewhat faster growth than if the nutrients have to be broken down in the soil by a colony of microorganisms before they become available to your plant.
The benefits of chemical fertilizers:
- Exact nutrient ratios
- Increased growth and THC production
- Rapid nutrient uptake
- Affordable and widely available
- These are the best cannabis nutrients for hydroponic systems because they are less likely to cause stuff to grow in the water reservoir.
The disadvantages of chemical fertilizers:
- Do not feed into the development of the soil
- Can burn and kill plants by overfeeding
- Leech from growing medium, impacting surrounding environment
- Produced from non-renewable resources