"The more research I did, the more I learned about the disadvantages of high salt fertilizers and the benefits of growing organically. We decided to switch from growing hydroponically to growing in living soil," says Mitch Hoesing, Director of Cultivation at Fuze Extracts. "There is a stigma surrounding growing organically, as most people seem to think that it produces better quality but not as much yield. Yet that is not the case at all. You can definitely get the same yields if you do it correctly and learn how to balance your soil." Mitch explains that the Brix level of the plants is especially important, as it measures the sugar levels in the plant. These are essential for healthier plants and increased cannabinoids. "There are four things that contribute to a high Brix level: UV, water, nutrients, and biology. When you have those four things balanced, that's when you can achieve the same kind of yields as growing hydroponically while achieving a quality that is second to none."
Breaking a never-ending cycle
With a high Brix level being so beneficial for the plant's yield and quality, what is it that lowers the Brix level? "High salt fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides; such synthetic products kill biology. Here in Las Vegas, around 95% of the growers still use these products, as they think that these products will give them high yields. But when you start growing with them, your Brix level drops, and now you have bugs. The grower will now turn back to the company for any pesticides that can help with the bugs. It creates a never-ending cycle of growers spending money on products they really don't need," Mitch says.
When growing organically in living soil and getting the soil balanced, such products are no longer necessary. Even when it comes to bugs, a high Brix level is the perfect solution, Mitch says. "If your plants have a Brix level of 4, scraping insects can no longer attack your plants. If you can get to the 5-8 range, chewing insects can't attack your plants anymore. Once you're up in the 10-12 range, not even grasshoppers can eat your plants because they can't digest them. With traditional pesticides, you even have to switch between multiple products, as pests will build a tolerance. That is why achieving a high Brix level is essential to a healthy, clean plant."
Mitch: "This is a network of fungal hyphae at work breaking down my nitrogen amendments for the next cycle of the room we just harvested."
According to Mitch, you don't have to go full Korean natural farming, but there are still a lot of great things that you can implement. "You can make inputs that are just all out of plants, and you can test the nutrient levels of the inputs that you make. You can take certain plant species and soak them in water with microbes, and it will release all the nutrients. You might pick plants that store a lot of phosphorous and potassium, for example. When you do the soil and tissue testing, you can see in real-time what your plants are actually up taking from the soil and what is in the soil." When growing hydroponically, most people just have a bottle of what the company tells them to feed the plants, Mitch says. "When growing organically, a lot of your inputs are a single source, which gives you a better chance of doing more crop steering. As long as you're soil testing frequently, you are able to provide the plants the exact amount of nutrients they need."
But what if you are starting out and your soil balance isn't quite right yet, and the plants aren't yet at their healthiest? "You can make pesticides that are 1000 times more effective than modern agriculture pesticides that bugs will never build a tolerance to," Mitch says. "Using plants like ginkgo, oleander, and pyracantha, to name a few. But there are hundreds if not thousands, of species you can use. For example, you can make a simple soap from potassium hydroxide, sunflower oil (any oil will work), and water. You can also simply make red clay sulfur (germicide) out of sulfur, red clay, sodium hydroxide, sea salt, and phyllite (rock dust). For people who are interested in such solutions, a book called 'JADAM Organic Farming' can show you how to make these things. Such solutions will give you an extremely low cost, but extremely powerful, IPM/disease regiment that costs just pennies to use and will cover you in any event that may come about," Mitch concludes.
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