Silicon usually isn’t directly ranked among the micro nutrients required for plant health. As a major inorganic component of all soils, adding it is often seen as unnecessary. However, most cannabis nutrient lines contain a silica compound. Is this just because these lines focus on hydroponic grow methods or is there another reason to care about silicon?
It turns out, supplementing silicon has been widely studied and plant specific testing has been conducted for many crops. According to this research, there are numerous benefits to boosting silicon in plants. Early studies focused on drought resistance and the increase in dry harvest weights of corn, rice, and wheat. Researchers found that increasing silicon increased plants’ water uptake efficiency by 30%, which provided broad, if difficult to quantify, resistance to drought. They also noticed that plants were better able to handle both heat and cold stress without showing signs of damage for moderate exposure. Given the heat stress potential of most indoor grows, this last benefit alone puts silicon on the top of my nutrient list.
Another study focused on the synergistic effects between silicon and nutrients in soil. When looking at the soil substrate, there’s a direct correlation between silicon content and plants’ ability to uptake ionic compounds. In short, having beneficial levels of silicon in the soil helps plants absorb necessary minerals. However, the benefit has a great deal to do with available nutrients in the growth medium to begin with. So, we can assume that the greater the health of your growth medium and nutrient mix, the greater impact silicon can have on nutrient uptake.
Next, the plant specific studies mentioned earlier overwhelming conclude that fertilizing with silicon increases dry yields of field crops. On average, corn yields increased 18%, and other crops such as rice and soybean showed yield increases 20 to 30%. The exact function by which silica improves yields is yet known, and further study is needed. The takeaway for cannabis growers is that, given the varying types of plants that produce more when fed, there’s good reason to believe using it in our grows will likewise increase our yields. At the very least, we need to begin independent testing of our own to study these effects.
Finally, silicon provides increased overall structural rigidity and strength throughout the whole plant and this effect is directly linked to pest and disease resistance. As with crop yields above, plant specific studies have been conducted to prove this phenomenon. However, plants differ in the ways they transfer materials once past the root zone. Therefore, we don’t have an exact model for how much silicon increases strength and resistance in Cannabis. What we do know is that in all the plants tested, adding silicon led to stronger cell walls and inter-cellular connections within the plant as a whole, as opposed to just in a specific portion of the plant. This total plant hardening leads us to why it helps with pest mitigation. Silicon helps create a thicker exterior cell wall making the plant far more difficult to penetrate either through plant rust or pests. If an insect can’t bite through the leaf, stem, or stalk of the plant it can’t harm the plant.
Unlike many nutrients that seem to be mysterious or and lacking science to back up their efficacy, silica compounds are proven drivers of greater plant health and higher yields. What i hope you've taken away from this blog today is simple, silica is awesome. Go out do some research and find the right silica nutrient line for your particular grow medium.
Hello from Joel at Hayes Park Hydroponics. It’s now late 2018, and we’re coming close to midterm elections here in the U.S. This usually brings high drama from all sides of the political arena, often drowning out smaller topics on the national stage. Knowing this, everyone in the cannabis industry needs to be aware of and focused on the coming votes in each of our states. We’ve been growing, but we need to do what we can to support pro-cannabis legislators and initiatives.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing here on numerous topics concerning our industry. Expect discussions on new research, grow methodology, <add another category?>, and what’s on the horizon for us politically. Some of the topics will need a bit of a primer to help with vocabulary attached to different scientific and manufacturing fields, and the more complex topics may take a little longer to get through. However, I’ll do my best to keep it manageable and interesting without losing what’s important. Here’s a peek at some topics you’ll likely see:
CBD and research results linking it to non anecdotal medical results in humans
Unwrapping the mystery surrounding humate
Maintaining long and short term focus and how this can greatly affect your grow
My goal is for readers to walk away each week with small but applicable bits of information that can improve their knowledge base. With so much information out there it’s become increasingly difficult to be able to decipher what is credible science backed information in contrast to speculative research. I want to what I can to lift the curtain on these issues. A perfect example of how confusing our industry can be starts with the seemingly simple subject of names, of strains or even of C. Sativa itself.
Taxonomically speaking what we call cannabis is the species Sativa, in the genus Cannabis, and the family Cannabaceae. The differences we note when looking at strains are at the “variety” or even “form” level, so well below the species ranking. The issue of truly identifying a strain begins to rear its ugly head when we take a look at the consumer experience, and ask the question “how do we know the girl scout cookie is really the strain?” In this case we tend to take the budtender at their word, but the hard question is: is this a healthy practice for the industry? When state regulations requires that batches be segregated by strain, how exactly does the state define a strain? What testing and protocols are in place to enforce the laws? The scary truth is it depends on what state you’re in, and the definitions may be absurdly vague. This leeds back to the true difference between cannabis strains coming down to slight genetic differences that can only be illuminated with the proper testing.
To add to this already muddy topic, even if testing can identify traits, that's only one part. The next question is whether the plant is a stable variety in terms of the traits it displays, such as cannabinoid content, color, taste, etc. A single high-producing mutant doesn’t make a strain, but what then defines a stable strain? How do we track and Identify this when dealing with the vast number of cultivators and states they grow in? And why does any of this matter? Ultimately, understanding these factors helps cultivators ensure healthy genetics moving forward. Inbreeding and non-diverse populations can be very dangerous and costly, mainly because a single type of outbreak, be it pest or other vector could completely wipe out a grow.
Stay Tuned to the next installment of Friday Finisher