Nutrient Consultancy to Licensed Commercial Grows (Nth America)
Save up to 90% on fertilizer input costs!
Med-Tek offers cannabis agronomy services where you can save between 50- 90% on fertilizer input costs while improving yields and medicinal oil production.
If you are running a serious, professional cannabis cultivation business, nothing is more important than cutting costs while simultaneously improving quality. These are the two pillars of success in any business.
If you are purchasing either liquid fertilizer concentrates or preblended, full spectrum dry powder products you are paying far too much for your fertilizer inputs. Further, you are purchasing one size fits all products which, at best, is a compromise where it comes to ideal crop nutrition.
For example, even where purchasing a full-spectrum dry powder product direct from the manufacturer you will find that you are paying far more than you need to. One product to look at for comparison between mixing your own and purchasing dry full spectrum fertilizers direct is the Front Row Ag product. We recently got a quote on a large commercial volume to cost compare. It was a very good quote and far cheaper than you would be paying for liquid concentrates, either at wholesale or through a hydroponic store. The quote came in at $3.50 a pound for 12,000 pounds (6 US ton). This equated to roughly 6-7c per gallon treatment. That’s impressive! It’s certainly far cheaper than purchasing hideously overpriced, overhyped liquids that have been marked up by wholesalers and retailers along the way. For example, if you were to use House and Garden liquid base (no additives) you’d be paying something like 16c a gallon; Canna base (no additives), 35c a gallon; GH 3-part base (no additives), 15c a gallon etc. Of course, a bunch of ‘hydro’ manufacturers would also have you believe that if you want to achieve optimum yields it is necessary to use their numerous costly additives. At this point you start looking at prices upwards of 60c per gallon. On this basis Front Row Ag – a company that I have a lot of respect for given they market with integrity – represents reasonably good value for money.
However, if you mix your own fertilizers you can save 50% or more on Front Row Ag’s prices, even where large volume (6 ton) buys on dry powder products (manufacturer direct) are concerned. I.e. you can expect to produce nutrients at between 2– 3c a gallon (as feed solution) by mixing your own.
Best Practice Agricultural Practices are the Future of Commercial Cannabis Production
Flashy labels and extravagant marketing claims do not produce optimum yields. A sound nutrient program that is customised to your crop and growing methodology will.
Recently Jerome Pier, a PhD from Nutrien Ag Solutions in the US, highlighted that many cannabis cultivators seem to believe that “cannabis is (apparently) a mystical plant”; based on this cannabis must require a “mystical fertilizer!” His point being that a lot of myths surround cannabis crop nutrition and that for years some hydroponic nutrient and additive manufacturers/suppliers have made all sorts of outlandish, science defying claims surrounding their products. As a result, many growers have been led up the garden path about cannabis crop nutrition optimums.
According to Pier’s, cannabis requires very similar plant nutrition to greenhouse grown tomato. Pier’s had lab analysed (reverse engineered) one “premium” claimed to be cannabis specific nutrient program and found of the 13 products analysed they were all “way under” the stated guaranteed analysis, and that nutrient solution lab analysis of the program at four or more growing stages showed that this much hyped, claimed to be cannabis specific nutrient and additive line used the tomato model as the basis to its formulations. Pier’s also noted that with this program growers needed to use 4-7 products a week and that one 2.5-gallon (9.46L) product in this program cost $589.00 USD.  He then went onto say that liquid hydroponic products sold through the hydroponics industry were “very expensive” and that these prices were prohibitive to commercial legal cannabis cultivators who were facing falling pound prices and as a result needed to reduce input costs. Pier’s then went onto say that many cultivators had little to no understanding of nutrient chemistry, and that key to the evolution of the legal cannabis market would be education of cannabis growers re developing their own fertilizers for use in commercial scale production.
None of this came as any surprise to myself. Cannabis growers, for far too many years, have operated in a grey or black market where no consumer protection exists. As a result, scams and highly deceptive marketing have become rife. In fact, one might argue that highly deceptive marketing has now become the gold standard of the global hydroponics industry with science defying claims, along with feed charts that require 5 – 6 or more products, becoming all too normalised by an industry that is populated to a large degree by individuals who have no formal training in plant science, little to no understanding of chemistry and for the most part no idea about the fertilizer products (actives etc) they are selling.
For about 20-years I have spent many thousands of dollars lab analysing some of the much hyped claimed to be “crop specific” nutrient lines. In all instances when I broke down the recommended usage rates (from labels and feed charts) and the resulting ppm of each nutrient ion in solution not a single manufacturer comes anywhere near to what would be deemed ideal crop nutrition.
This was always going to be the case – it is impossible to formulate a one size fits all nutrient program for varying cultivars and growing methodologies. The best you can hope for is to luxury (excessively) feed which typically results in lower THC production than would occur under a well-managed, optimised nutrient program. I.e. fertilization is one of the most important factors for indoor cannabis production. Over-fertilization can lead to salt accumulation in the root zone, whereas under-fertilization can cause nutrient deficiency and lower yields. A 2018 study found that increasing fertilizer rate was found to have a dilution effect on THC, THCA and CBGA; therefore, excessive fertilizer application during the flowering stage should be avoided.
In some cases, manufacturers have got things horribly wrong which undoubtedly leads to quite significant yield losses. Perhaps not too surprisingly some of the manufacturers who make the most grandiose marketing claims are actually the ones who produce the most substandard products. In some cases where I have lab analysed the same products a couple of times in the same year I have found massive discrepancies in the formulations/products as a result of poor batch-to-batch quality control. In other cases, I have caught manufacturers out making false label claims, and in a few cases I have busted and exposed suppliers for highly unethical (depraved) practices such as claiming their products were e.g. organic when, in fact, quite the opposite was true. In other cases, I have found manufacturers using trivalent cations (e.g. aluminium) to artificially boost the EC of their nutrients. Cannabis is a hyperaccumulator plant that is extremely adept at taking up metals. In fact, it is being used for bioremediation of heavy metal contaminated soils. This means that a good deal of the aluminium fed to plants will be up taken and lodged in the tissue. Aluminum (Al) is a neurotoxic metal. Smoking cannabis may increase your exposure and accumulation of aluminum in your body. Compelling evidence is mounting that aluminum is involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autoimmunity, and many other diseases. It’s therefore an extremely questionable practice to be using aluminium in hydroponic solutions.
Unfortunately, what appears to have happened in the hydroponics industry is marketing has superseded product quality, and in a market where no consumer protection exists this means some manufacturers have been able to fully exploit the gullibility and lack of plant science knowledge on the part of some growers. Toss in minimum wage hydro retail staff who generally have no formal plant science training and, too often, limited product knowledge and it was always a recipe for disaster.
The legal market needs to change. The ‘hydro’ industry, at least in legal markets, is quickly becoming a relic of the past – a bad hangover from a bygone era when skullduggery and scam artists were all too common.
“I provide a full training and support package in recognition that for many commercial grow operators nutrient formulation and manufacturing is a new thing that can appear intimidating.”
Working with solid/powder compound fertilizers (e.g. calcium nitrate, magnesium nitrate, potassium nitrate, MKP, magnesium sulphate) and easy to mix formulas you can drastically reduce your fertilizer input costs to between 2 – 3c a gallon of feed solution. Additionally, when working with formulas that have been dialled into your cultivar/s and growing methodology through custom formulating, using tissue analysis, you will typically see significant improvements in plant health and yields (weight and medicinal oil percentages).
I provide baseline formulas for your substrate of choice and guide you on what fertilizers you require and where to purchase them. I can help you with purchasing drums and mixers, and I provide stock concentrate formulas and injector ratios (ml per gallon usage rates). You will be provided with easy to follow step-by-step mixing instructions and I walk you through your first mixes using Whatsapp, Skype, Zoom etc to ensure no mistakes are made.
From there, we run tissue analysis and refine your nutrient program to cultivar and growing methodology.
Basically, I provide a full training and support package in recognition that for many grow operators nutrient formulation and manufacturing is a new thing that can appear intimidating. Don’t worry, it’s very easy with some guidance and basic training.
Other Services Offered
If you looking for a specific formula (e.g. a specific additive that is sold through the hydroponics retail sector) I can likely provide it or something very close.
If you require help on an IPM plan or creating a SOP I can help here.
If you require assistance or advice on facility design I can help here also.
 Deron M. Caplan. Propagation and Root Zone Management for Controlled Environment Cannabis Production. PhD thesis, University of Guelph, 2018