Living soil is the symbiotic relationship between organisms working together to break down organic matter in your soil, which, in turn, provides valuable nutrients to plants and the microbial world. This style of cultivating allows the newly formed soil to function as its own ecological community, feeding the cannabis/hemp plant roots itself.
This is known as growing with mother nature and was first called the "soil food web" by Dr. Elaine Ingham. The soil foodweb world consists of composting worms, beneficial nematodes, protozoa, bacteria, and fungi.
Living soil cultivation methods have proven time and time again to produce extremely high-quality cannabis. They generate these results by breaking down the organic matter that collects on the soil floor. Then specific decomposers like red wiggler composting worms, roly polys, and white springtail mites break that organic matter down into carbon. The ground that doesn't contain beneficial organisms is not living and should be considered DIRT. Dirt requires nutritional supplementation via fertilizers and compost teas just to produce mediocre medicine.
Red Wigglers and African Nightcrawlers will work in a symbiotic relationship with the microbial soil foodweb to help build dissolved oxygen channels, which allows newly formed roots to begin to grow a larger circumference. This symbiotic relationship also helps to control dangerous pests and improve water retention, thus reducing the amount of attention needed to produce abundant, high quality cannabis and hemp yields.
Why Is This Style Called "Beyond Organic"?
USDA Certified Organic has come to mean any farmer that uses organically certified input materials. Many would argue that this is a very watered-down version of the original meaning.
Even focusing on “soil health” is not necessarily enough, because some farmers and growers get caught up on the chemistry of their soil, thinking that they need to add various mineral and chemical nutrients in order to balance their soil. However, the focus of a truly organic farmer - or what we are now calling “beyond organic” or “regenerative,” is on biological soil health. When a farmer promotes the right microbes and the accumulation of organic matter in their soil, everything else will follow.
Tilling creates a Catch 22 for the organic farm: tilling speeds the breakdown process of organic matter but also dramatically minimizes the lifespan of the organisms living in the newly tilled soil. Essentially, excessive tilling kills off the microorganisms in the ground rather than nurturing them.
As a living soil farmer, learn to trust the process and let Mother Nature work synergistically with the microbial world by pulling down the organic matter. This organic matter becomes the living soil we are after and naturally boosts the amount of active organic matter that is bioavailable. This entire microbial world operates on this life source for creating energy and receiving nutrition, improving its organic content. This is fantastic for achieving the full cannabis genetic profiles we are after. A beyond organic farm will use little or no tilling.
In a Living Soil, a complex and high glomalin soil will begin to form. This kind of soil is drought resistant and has impressive water retention capabilities.
Increasing micro-diversity has many beneficial and long lasting effects that you can see all the way up the food chain, such as producing high-end cannabis/hemp flavor profiles that you enjoy smoking for their medicinal values. There is a direct correlation between biodiversity in your soil and the complexities of taste and oil production in whatever you are growing.
The Benefits of Growing Cannabis in Living Soil
When cannabis is cultivated in a no-till/living soil system, it begins to emulate the more delicate complexities like that of aged fine wine. A healthy microbiological ecosystem MUST be alive and thriving for you to achieve these same results building your living soil system. The full genetic profile of the plant relies directly upon the quality and level of microbiology in your soil system. The higher bio-diversity increases over time and creates a healthy closed-loop system where more top quality microbial levels are achieved.
If you are looking to start cultivating your own THC/CBD medicine, then there is no better cultivation style. Since the medicinal values of the plant are determined by the oil production, you will end up with a much more complex therapeutic profile, allowing for the actual medical potential of the plant to be achieved. Your end product will be looked upon as high end and will have a far superior cannabinoid profile.
THC has become the most commonly known psychoactive compound in the cannabinoid family. When the levels of these other cannabinoids are raised, there seems to be a direct correlation to the medicinal value pulled from the compounds and their medical applications.
When grown in a diverse microbiological environment, cannabis becomes a much more potent and diverse medicine. Any increase in the levels and varieties of cannabinoids should be the goal when growing medical cannabis. Below are the most commonly known cannabinoids besides THC, and their effects:
If you’ve been considering making the switch to cultivating with true living soil, there’s no better time to do so. With the rapidly changing landscape of the cannabis industry, and new competition entering the growing game every day, there’s no better way to stand out.
About the Author
Daniel Enking is the founder of Everflux Technologies. He is a life-long environmentalist and practical dreamer who is obsessed with resource efficiency and imaged an "everything recycling machine" at age 10.