"When consulting cannabis growers at the start of the commercial industries in Canada and the United States, I noticed a large gap in the understanding of proper plant nutrition and irrigation management principles. I knew it could be done in a more efficient and beneficial way," says Damian Solomon, Founder of King Solomon Nutrients and Plant Geek Consulting. That's when Solomon designed a two-part fertilizer system that contains the specific nutritional requirements for flowering crops, is very easy to apply, lower cost, and supports a higher performing plant overall. "Developing strong vegetative plants early on is essential in pushing the crop to produce optimized flower yield and phyto-compounds. Moreover, growers are able to reduce their vegetative cycle time by up to 10 days."
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The need for guidance
Solomon has been in the CEA industry for almost 25 years, gaining experience while working with some well-known brands. "In Arizona, I worked for Eurofresh Farms for almost eight years, after which I moved to California. Here, I started working for Grimmway Farms, managing a 10-acre high-tech greenhouse for organic vegetable production. Overall, I've always been around greenhouses throughout my career. However, after getting a bit tired of waking up in the middle of the night for boiler alarms going, I decided to go for a bit of a change and took a position with De Ruiter Seeds as their NAFTA region greenhouse expert. I traveled around Canada, the U.S., and Mexico helping growers make the transition to better vegetable varieties." And that's when Solomon first got in touch with the legal cannabis industry.
While traveling, Solomon met some Canadian producers who were getting their licenses for the early medicinal cannabis industry. However, he quickly noticed that there was a lot of learning left to do in this new industry. "At a trade show, someone wanted me to take a look at their $30 million indoor cannabis project. After visiting the construction site, I realized it looked like a larger version of someone growing in their basement; no agricultural technology, no integration between systems, and no efficiencies or processes in place. That's when I realized that as the industry was becoming commercialized, growers were going to need competent advice and guidance. Whether you are growing cannabis or tomatoes, you need certain pieces of infrastructure and processes in place just to survive as a business." Therefore, he started working as a consultant in the Canadian cannabis industry. Many of the early clients included groups like Tilray, Tweed (Canopy), Cronos, and DOJA Cannabis. Shortly after, he began consulting for LA-based MedMen. Within a few months, he joined MedMen full-time as the Director of Cultivation & Ag Technology. In November 2017, Solomon parted ways and founded his firm, Plant Geek Consulting, LLC.
Gap in plant nutrition
When Solomon returned to consulting full-time in late 2017, he noticed a gap in the understanding of hydroponic principles, irrigation strategies, or plant health/crop nutrition. Some of this was due to the reliance on legacy fertilizer products supplied by the local grow shops. "Oftentimes, nutritional products had multiple (usually 5-7) parts that the grower needed to mix, and all in different volumes to each other. The products were oftentimes liquids and expensive to use, and not a commercially-scalable solution. I knew this could be done in a simple and efficient way. My goals were to develop a product that was 1) easy to use, 2) low in cost, and 3) supply a product that is optimized to the plant's performance and allows for maximum potential."
That's how King Solomon Nutrients was created. Solomon explains that it is a two-part system, with Veg A and B for the vegetative phase and Bloom A and B supporting bloom growth. "I took a lot of crop level data through drip, drain, and plant tissue analysis. A benchmark was created on the nutritional needs from propagation through harvest. The nutrients that support the specific grow phase with a high rate of solubility will not clog drip irrigation systems and is very easy to apply. The A and B parts are used in equal amounts, reducing the chance for error when mixing the fertilizer."
Moreover, growers will quickly notice the benefits in their production, according to Solomon. "The plants in veg quickly respond with vigor and fast growth, allowing growers to become more efficient with throughput. Producers have even been able to reduce the vegetative time by up to 10 days, achieving the same plant size with better plant morphology and a higher rate of vigor. With a strong growing plant going into the bloom phase, the grower is now in the driver's seat. It enables the grower to push the plant with managed stress (crop steering), increasing flower quality, yield, potency, and terpene characteristics. A common challenge among growers is starting the bloom phase with less-than-optimal plant health. Instead of pushing the crop, the grower needed to protect and baby the plant back to health. This would take a lot of time, resources, and inputs to achieve, oftentimes still resulting in low yield and quality. Now, with King Solomon Nutrients, growers are in charge and can fully optimize results from day one."
King Solomon Nutrients is available throughout the United States. In early September 2022, the brand was launched in Europe in collaboration with several partners. Solomon states, "Bringing our fertilizer products to the EU is only made possible through the hard work of my partner Laura Mann of Flore Consultancy. Laura will manage the region for both Plant Geek Consulting and King Solomon. I would also like to thank our manufacturing and distribution partners in the area. By operating out of The Netherlands, we are right in the middle of high-tech horticulture, which gives us a great position with quick access to all EU markets. We look forward to supporting licensed producers with a high level of cultivation guidance and optimized plant nutrition." The expansion continues in 2023, with Canada, Australia, and Thailand all coming online by Q2.
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King Solomon Nutrients