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Aeroponics delivers efficiency and consistency for cannabis grower

The atmosphere of one of Spokane's original cannabis grow operations, Redbird, feels much more like a scientific laboratory than a traditional cannabis farm. Giant containers line the hallways, connected with seemingly endless lengths of tube and pipe. Multicolored LEDs illuminate the grow rooms, projecting powerful light that is tough on the eyes but great for the plants. There's also no soil, but unlike a hydroponic grow, there's not much water to be found either.

That's because Redbird uses aeroponics. It's a technology pioneered, studied, and used by NASA for growing food in outer space, where time and resources are at a premium.

"That's the great thing about aeroponics, you only spray a tiny bit of water. Other grows generally recirculate water, and you have to constantly monitor the water quality," says Josh Ruhlman, Redbird's chief operating officer. "We can drain the waste, and we're still using like 90 percent less water."

Redbird's aeroponic growing technique suspends the roots of cannabis plants in an air-filled container instead of in soil, water, or another substrate. Piping systems inside the container deliver quick, controlled blasts of mist and nutrients every 200 to 300 seconds, directly to the roots. The growers are able to customize everything from the length and frequency of those blasts all the way down to the size of the water droplets that comprise them.

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