Cannabis has been grown in soil for centuries, but now that we have hydroponics that supposedly can produce bigger and faster yields, why isn't everyone using it? Well, although growing weed using hydroponics has some big advantages, there are some drawbacks that you need to have a careful think about before you start growing. While hydroponics can produce incredible results, it may not necessarily be right for every single grow. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of soil vs hydro so that you can decide which is the best choice for you.
What are the pros and cons of hydro and soil growing?
You may be reading this thinking…. “If it grows faster and bigger why isn’t everybody using hydroponics?”. Well, as with any growing method, there are pros and cons to hydroponics that you might want to consider before going out and splurging your money on a hi-tech setup. Here are a few things to consider:
Pros of hydroponic growing:
- Faster growth and bigger yields: With hydroponics, plants can grow up to 30-50% faster than traditional soil-based growing methods because they receive precisely what they need, when they need it. This results in faster harvests and bigger yields.
- Control over nutrients: In hydroponic systems, nutrients can be precisely controlled, ensuring that plants receive exactly what they need for optimal growth. This can result in healthier plants with bigger yields.
- Fewer pests and diseases: Because hydroponic systems are typically grown indoors, there is less risk of pests and diseases affecting the plants. Additionally, because the systems are closed and the water is recirculated, there is less risk of soil-borne diseases affecting the plants.
Cons of hydroponic growing:
- High setup costs: Hydroponic systems can be expensive to set up, particularly if you go for a more advanced system like aeroponics.
- Technical knowledge: Growing weed using hydroponics requires a certain level of technical knowledge and skill. New growers may find it challenging to get the hang of setting up and maintaining a hydroponic system.
- Requires more electricity: Hydroponic systems require more electricity to power water pumps, air pumps, lights, and other equipment, which can increase energy costs.
- Risk of pow outage: Most hydroponic systems rely on air and water pumps, if there is a power outage it could be damaging to your plants. With some systems such as NFT, Drip irrigation and Ebb and Flow it could kill your plants if they are left dry for prolonged periods.
- Requires consistent monitoring: Hydroponic systems require more monitoring and maintenance than traditional soil-based systems. Growers need to monitor pH levels, nutrient levels, and water quality to ensure optimal plant growth.
- Risk of mold and bacteria: Because hydroponic systems provide ideal conditions for plant growth, they may also be more prone to mold and bacteria. Growers need to take extra precautions to prevent contamination and maintain plant health.
With so many different types of hydroponic systems, it is also important to look into which setup is better suited to you. Setups such as the Wick system are super simple and cheap to run, but may not offer the best results. Whereas systems such as the Drip irrigation method are more complicated, but can produce incredible yields when you get it right.
Pros of growing weed in soil:
Growing weed in soil and hydroponics each have their own unique set of advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the main pros and cons of growing weed with soil:
- More natural: Soil provides a natural and organic environment for plants, which can result in a more flavorful and aromatic final product.
- Less expensive: Soil contains nutrients that are essential for plant growth and development, so it can be less expensive to maintain than hydroponic systems that require nutrient solutions.
- More forgiving: Soil is forgiving when it comes to mistakes and can help to buffer against over-fertilization or other issues that can arise in hydroponic systems.
- Less complicated: Soil is readily available to most people in their garden or a local garden centre. No matter where you are in the world, its cheap, easy to obtain and more straight forward than hydro.
Cons of growing weed in soil:
- Slower growth: Nutrients are more difficult for a plant to find in soil which could result in slower growth.
- Pests: Soil can be a breeding ground for pests and diseases, which can lead to harmful infestations of mites and other plant eating insects.
- Inconsistency: Soil can be inconsistent in terms of nutrient levels, which can result in uneven growth and yield.
Is hydroponic weed better than soil?
The quality of cannabis depends on a variety of factors, including genetics, nutrients, growing conditions, and post-harvest processing so the quality isn't just down to the way in which it is grow.
That being said, hydroponic systems can offer several advantages over soil-based systems, such as faster growth, more efficient use of resources, and better control over nutrients. They do also reduce the risk of pests and diseases that can affect soil-grown plants.
One other important thing to consider is that when you grow weed with hydroponics you will be using synthetic nutrients, as opposed to organic. Some growers say that organic nutrients provide a better taste. So, it is advisable to flush your cannabis plants for 5-10 days prior to harvesting them to clear them of any nutrients and improve the flavour of the bud.
You should also take into consideration that not all soils are the same. So, in same way that the wick hydro system may not provide the same results as the drip irrigation system, plain soil will most likely not provide the same results as an organic super soil. This is why if you choose not to use hydroponics, make sure you grow in the best soil possible for growing weed.
Is hydroponic weed more potent?
The potency of weed isn’t just down to soil and nutrients, it can also be attributed to the lights, climate and training techniques used to grow it. Hydroponics systems provide a continuous supply of nutrients to the plants, providing them with everything they need to grow and fully mature therefore they could increase potency if all of the other variables are met.
Does hydroponic or soil yield more?
Hydroponics provides a continuous delivery of nutrients directly to the roots of a plant giving it everything that it needs to grow fast. The overall yield is dependant on what nutrients are used, pot size, light quality and a whole range of other variables, so to attribute yield solely down to hydroponics would be unrealistic. If you grow using hydroponics and get everything else right then you can expect excellent yields but it is just as important to use good quality lights, perfect nutrient measurements and provide a suitable climate. With all of these other key variables met you could expect a hydro grow to yield 20-30% more than a comparable indoor soil grow.
How much weed does the average hydroponic yield?
On average, a hydroponic cannabis grow can yield anywhere from 0.5 grams to 1.5 grams per watt of light, though some growers report yields as high as 2 grams per watt of light. So, let's just say, you were using a 1000-watt light, you could potentially yield anywhere from 500 grams to 1500 grams (or 1.1 to 3.3 pounds) of dried bud. Of course, the yield is also massively dependant on the light itself and the climate so don't think that hydro will miraculously increase your yield if you are not using the right lights or training techniques.
What is cheaper hydro or soil?
There is much more equipment involved in using hydro than in using soil and this equipment needs to be bought up front. Over the long term, the cost can be set against the higher yields and increased speed of the growth cycle. For beginners and/or small-scale growers, however, a good hydroponics set up could set you back $300 - $2000 depending on how many plants you intend to grow so it could take a while to reach break-even point. Although if you are on a budget and you want to try a hydro method then the DWC system is great for beginners and can be done reasonably cheap.
Also, if you are growing outdoors with soil and using natural sunlight, this is going to be infinitely cheaper than growing indoors using a hydroponic set up. All of the equipment, air pumps, water pumps, timers, grow lights, fans, extraction fans etc. all cost money to buy and to run. So, if you do have an outdoor space with good soil and suitable weather it is always going to be cheaper for you to use that.