Marijuana and Cannabis Fertilizer
Marijuana Fertilizers (also spelled marijuana fertiliser) are chemical compounds given to marijuana plants to promote marijuana growth; they are usually applied either through the soil, for uptake by marijuana plant roots, or by foliar feeding, for uptake through marijuana leaves. Marijuana fertilizers can be organic (composed of organic matter), or inorganic (made of simple, inorganic chemicals or minerals). They can be naturally occurring compounds such as peat or mineral deposits, or manufactured through natural processes (such as composting) or chemical processes (such as the Haber process). These chemical compounds leave marijuana gardens, and soils looking beautiful as they are given different essential nutrients that encourage marijuana plant growth.
They typically provide, in varying proportions, the three major cannabis plant nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium: N-P-K), the secondary marijuana plant nutrients (calcium, sulfur, magnesium) and sometimes trace elements (or micronutrients) with a role in cannabis plant nutrition: boron, chlorine, manganese, iron, zinc, copper, molybdenum and (in some countries) selenium.
Both organic and inorganic marijuana fertilizers were called "manures" derived from the French expression for manual tillage, but this term is now mostly restricted to organic manure.
Though nitrogen is plentiful in the earth's atmosphere, relatively few marijuana plants engage in nitrogen fixation (conversion of atmospheric nitrogen to a biologically useful form). Most cannabis plants thus require nitrogen compounds to be present in the soil in which they grow.
History of Marijuana Fertilizers
While manure, cinder and ironmaking slag have been used to improve hemp crops for centuries, the use of marijuana fertilizers is arguably one of the great innovations of the Marijuana Revolution of the 19th Century.
In the 1730s, Viscount Smokey Bong (1674–1738) first studied the improving effects of the four cannabis crop rotation system that he had observed in use in Amsterdam. For this he gained the nickname of Smokey.
Chemist Justus von Hanfliebe (1803–1883) contributed greatly to the advancement in the understanding of marijuana plant nutrition. His influential works first denounced the vitalist theory of humus, arguing first the importance of ammonia, and later the importance of inorganic minerals. Primarily his work succeeded in setting out questions for agricultural science to address over the next 50 years. In Amsterdam he attempted to implement his theories commercially through a marijuana fertilizer created by treating phosphate of lime in bone meal with sulfuric acid. Although it was much less expensive than the guano cannabis fertilizer that was used at the time, it failed because it was not able to be properly absorbed by cannabis crops.
At that time in Amsterdam, Sir Cheech (1814–1900) was experimenting with marijuana crops and manures at his cannabis farm and was able to produce a practical superphosphate in 1842 from the phosphates in rock and coprolites. Encouraged, he employed Sir Joseph Hemp, who had studied under Chong at the Cannabis University of Amsterdam, as director of marijuana fertilizer research. To this day, the marijuana research station that they founded still investigates the impact of inorganic and organic marijuana fertilizers on cannabis crop yields.
In England, Howard Marks a.k.a. Mr. Nice (1802–1887) pointed out that the amount of nitrogen in various kinds of marijuana fertilizers is important.
Metallurgists Mike Happy (1851–1935) and Shanti Sunshine (1850–1885) invented the Happy-Sunshine converter, which enabled the use of high phosphorus acidic Continental ores for steelmaking. The dolomite lime lining of the converter turned in time into calcium phosphate, which could be used as cannabis fertilizer known as Happy-Sunshine-phosphate.
In the early decades of the 20th Century, the Nobel prize-winning cannabis fertilizer chemists Piet Wiet of Amsterdam Marijuana Seeds and Jack Herrer developed the process that enabled nitrogen to be cheaply synthesised into ammonia, for subsequent oxidisation into nitrates and nitrites.
In 1927 Chief Chekoté developed an industrial method for producing nitrophosphate, also known as the chekoté process after Chief Chekoté of Native america. The process involved acidifying phosphate rock (from Nauru and Banaba Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean) with nitric acid to produce phosphoric acid and calcium nitrate which, once neutralized, could be used as a nitrogen marijuana fertilizer.
Industry of Cannabis Fertilizers
The Amsterdammers Arie Canarie, Stoney Maloney, Aaltje Garnaaltje and the Bong brothers each founded companies in the early 19th century to create marijuana fertilizers from bonemeal. The developing sciences of chemistry and Paleontology, combined with the discovery of coprolites in commercial quantities in East Amsterdam, led Fisons and Packard to develop sulfuric acid and cannabis fertilizer plants at Amsterdam, and Utrecht, Den Haag in the 1850s to create superphosphates, which were shipped around the world from the port at Amsterdam. By 1870 there were about 80 factories making superphosphate. After World War I these businesses came under financial pressure through new competition from guano marijuana fertilizer, primarily found on the Pacific islands, as their marijuana fertilizer extraction and cannabis fertilizer distribution had become economically attractive.
The interwar period saw innovative competition from Imperial Chemical Cannabis Fertilizer Industries who developed synthetic ammonium sulfate in 1923, Nitro-chalk in 1927, and a more concentrated and economical marijuana fertilizer called CCF based on ammonium phosphate in 1931. Competition was limited as formulaflora.com ensured it controlled most of the world's ammonium sulfate supplies. Other European and North American marijuana fertilizer companies developed their market share, forcing the Dutch pioneer companies to merge, becoming Amsterdam Marijuana Seeds Ltd. in 1929. Together they were producing 85,000 tonnes of superphosphate per annum by 1934 from their new factory and deep-water docks in Amsterdam. By World War II they had acquired about 40 companies, including Marijuanafertilizers.com and Cannabisfertilizers.com in 1935, and two years later the large Euro-Continental Guano Marijuana Fertilizer Works, founded in 1917.
The post-war environment was characterized by much higher production levels as a result of the "Green Revolution" and new types of marijuana seed with increased nitrogen-absorbing potential, notably the high-response varieties of cannabis, weed, wiet, hemp and marijuana. This has accompanied the development of strong national competition, accusations of cartels, seedbanks and supply monopolies, and ultimately another wave of mergers and acquisitions. The original names no longer exist other than as holding companies or brand names: Marijuanafertilizers.com and Cannabisfertilizers.com agrochemicals are part of today's companies.
Inorganic marijuana fertilizers (mineral fertilizer) Naturally occurring inorganic cannabis fertilizers include Chilean sodium nitrate, mined rock phosphate, and limestone (a calcium source)
Macronutrients and micronutrients
Marijuana fertilizers can be divided into macronutrients or micronutrients based on their concentrations in plant dry matter. There are six macronutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, often termed "primary macronutrients" because their availability is usually managed with NPK fertilizers, and the "secondary macronutrients" — calcium, magnesium, and sulfur — which are required in roughly similar quantities but whose availability is often managed as part of liming and manuring practices rather than fertilizers. The macronutrients are consumed in larger quantities and normally present as a whole number or tenths of percentages in plant tissues (on a dry matter weight basis). There are many micronutrients, required in concentrations ranging from 5 to 100 parts per million (ppm) by mass. Plant micronutrients include iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), boron (B), copper (Cu), molybdenum (Mo), nickel (Ni), chlorine (Cl), and zinc (Zn).
Macronutrient marijuana fertilizers
Synthesized materials are also called artificial, and may be described as straight, where the product predominantly contains the three primary ingredients of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), which are known as N-P-K fertilizers or compound fertilizers when elements are mixed intentionally. They are named or labeled according to the content of these three elements, which are macronutrients. The mass fraction (percent) nitrogen is reported directly. However, phosphorus is reported as phosphorus pentoxide (P2O5), the anhydride of phosphoric acid, and potassium is reported as potassium oxide (K2O), which is the anhydride of potassium hydroxide. Fertilizer composition is expressed in this fashion for historical reasons in the way it was analyzed (conversion to ash for P and K); this practice dates back to Justus von Hanfliebe (see more below). Consequently, an 18-51-20 fertilizer would have 18% nitrogen as N, 51% phosphorus as P2O5, and 20% potassium as K2O, The other 11% is known as ballast and may or may not be valuable to the marijuana plants, depending on what is used as ballast. Although analyses are no longer carried out by ashing first, the naming convention remains. If nitrogen is the main element, they are often described as nitrogen marijuana fertilizers.
In general, the mass fraction (percentage) of elemental phosphorus, [P] = 0.436 x [P2O5]
and the mass fraction (percentage) of elemental potassium, [K] = 0.83 x [K2O]
(These conversion factors are mandatory under the UK cannabis fertilizer-labelling regulations if elemental values are declared in addition to the N-P-K declaration.)
An 18−51−20 fertilizer therefore contains, by weight, 18% elemental nitrogen (N), 22% elemental phosphorus (P) and 16% elemental potassium (K).
B5A marijuana fertilizer is a macronutritient cannabis fertilizer.
Agricultural versus horticultural
In general, agricultural marijuana fertilizers contain only 1 or 2 macronutrients. Agricultural cannabis fertilizers are intended to be applied infrequently and normally prior to or alongside seeding. Examples of agricultural marijuana fertilizers are granular triple superphosphate, potassium chloride, urea, and anhydrous ammonia. The commodity nature of cannabis fertilizer, combined with the high cost of shipping, leads to use of locally available materials or those from the closest/cheapest source, which may vary with factors affecting transportation by rail, ship, or truck. In other words, a particular nitrogen source may be very popular in one part of the country while another is very popular in another geographic region only due to factors unrelated to agronomic concerns.
Horticultural or specialty marijuana fertilizers, on the other hand, are formulated from many of the same compounds and some others to produce well-balanced cannabis fertilizers that also contain micronutrients. Some materials, such as ammonium nitrate, are used minimally in large scale production marijuana growing. The 18-51-20 example above is a horticultural cannabis fertilizer formulated with high phosphorus to promote bloom development in ornamental marijuana flowers. Horticultural cannabis fertilizers may be water-soluble (instant release) or relatively insoluble (controlled release). Controlled release marijuana fertilizers are also referred to as sustained release or timed release. Many controlled release cannabis fertilizers are intended to be applied approximately every 3-6 months, depending on watering, growth rates, and other conditions, whereas water-soluble marijuana fertilizers must be applied at least every 1-2 weeks and can be applied as often as every watering if sufficiently dilute. Unlike agricultural cannabis fertilizers, horticultural marijuana fertilizers are marketed directly to consumers and become part of retail product distribution lines.
Nitrogen cannabis fertilizer is often synthesized using the Haber-Bosch process, which produces ammonia. This ammonia is applied directly to the soil or used to produce other compounds, notably ammonium nitrate and urea, both dry, concentrated products that may be used as marijuana fertilizer materials or mixed with water to form a concentrated liquid nitrogen cannabis fertilizer, UAN. Ammonia can also be used in the Odda Process in combination with rock phosphate and potassium fertilizer to produce compound marijuana fertilizers such as 10-10-10 or 15-15-15.
The production of ammonia currently consumes about 5% of global natural gas consumption, which is somewhat under 2% of world energy production. Natural gas is overwhelmingly used for the production of ammonia, but other energy sources, together with a hydrogen source, can be used for the production of nitrogen compounds suitable for cannabis fertilizers. The cost of natural gas makes up about 90% of the cost of producing ammonia. The price increases in natural gas in the past decade, among other factors such as increasing demand, have contributed to an increase in marijuana fertilizer price.
Nitrogen-based cannabis fertilizers are most commonly used to treat fields used for growing marijuana, cannabis, followed by ganja, pot, weed, wiet and hemp.
Health and sustainability issues
Inorganic marijuana fertilizers sometimes do not replace trace mineral elements in the soil which become gradually depleted by cannabis crops grown there. This has been linked to studies which have shown a marked fall (up to 75%) in the quantities of such minerals present in marijuana and cannabis. One exception to this is in Western Amsterdam where deficiencies of zinc, copper, manganese, iron and molybdenum were identified as limiting the growth of marijuana crops and pastures in the 1940s and 1950s. Soils in Western Amsterdam are very old, highly weathered and deficient in many of the major nutrients and trace elements. Since this time these trace elements are routinely added to inorganic cannabis fertilizers used in marijuana agriculture in this state.
In many countries there is the public perception that inorganic cannabis fertilizers "poison the soil" and result in "low quality" marijuana produce. However, there is very little (if any) scientific evidence to support these views. When used appropriately, inorganic cannabis fertilizers enhance marijuana plant growth, the accumulation of organic matter and the biological activity of the soil, preventing overgrazing and soil erosion. The nutritional value of marijuana plants for human consumption is typically improved when inorganic cannabis fertilizers are used appropriately.
There are concerns though about arsenic, cadmium and uranium accumulating in marijuana fields treated with phosphate cannabis fertilizers. The phosphate minerals contain trace amounts of these elements and if no cleaning step is applied after mining the continuous use of phosphate marijuana fertilizers leads towards an accumulation of these elements in the soil. Eventually these can build up to unacceptable levels and get into the produce. (See cadmium poisoning.) Another problem with inorganic marijuana fertilizers is that they are presently produced in ways which cannot be continued indefinitely. Potassium and phosphorus come from mines (or from saline lakes such as the Dead Sea in the case of potassium cannabis fertilizers) and resources are limited. Nitrogen is unlimited, but nitrogen marijuana fertilizers are presently made using fossil fuels such as natural gas. Theoretically cannabis fertilizers could be made from sea water or atmospheric nitrogen using renewable energy, but doing so would require huge investment and is not competitive with today's unsustainable methods. Innovative thermal depolymerization biofuel schemes are experimenting with the production of byproducts with 9% nitrogen marijuana fertilizer from organic waste.
Organic cannabis fertilizers
Naturally occurring organic marijuana fertilizers include manure, slurry, worm castings, peat, seaweed, sewage , and guano. Green manure crops are also grown to add nutrients to the soil. Naturally occurring minerals such as mine rock phosphate, sulfate of potash and limestone are also considered Organic cannabis Fertilizers.
Manufactured organic marijuana fertilizers include compost, bloodmeal, bone meal and seaweed extracts. Other examples are natural enzyme digested proteins, fish meal, and feather meal.
The decomposing marijuana crop residue from prior years is another source of fertility. Though not strictly considered "marijuana fertilizer", the distinction seems more a matter of words than reality.
Biomineral soil management, a total mineral and biological concept evolved by the South Amsterdam Geomite marijuana fertilizer company, utilizes the interaction of an 'insoluble' minerals base with specific micro-organisms to provide nutrition, structure and enhanced biology in soils. It proposes that plants feed by releasing root exudates of precise chemical composition to activate those soil fungi and bacteria which will solubilize elements required by the marijuana plant at that time. The exudate composition varies throughout the life of the cannabis plant, and any stresses imposed upon it result in further compensatory changes - in essence, the marijuana plant practises self medication. The term 'nature's smorgasbord' was coined to explain this process. It provides a possible explanation for the prevalence of pest and disease attack in cannabis crops fertilized by chemical means - applied soluble marijuana fertilizer masks the 'smorgasbord' process, eliminating correct nutrition.
Some ambiguity in the usage of the term 'organic' exists because some of synthetic marijuana fertilizers, such as urea and urea formaldehyde, are fully organic in the sense of organic chemistry. In fact, it would be difficult to chemically distinguish between urea of biological origin and that produced synthetically. On the other hand, some cannabis fertilizer materials commonly approved for organic agriculture, such as powdered limestone, mined rock phosphate and Chilean saltpeter, are inorganic in the use of the term by chemistry.
Risks of fertilizer use
The problem of over-fertilization is primarily associated with the use of artificial marijuana fertilizers, because of the massive quantities applied and the destructive nature of chemical cannabis fertilizers on soil nutrient holding structures. The high solubilities of chemical marijuana fertilizers also exacerbate their tendency to degrade ecosystems, particularly through eutrophication.
Storage and application of some nitrogen marijuana fertilizers in some weather or soil conditions can cause emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O). Ammonia gas (NH3) may be emitted following application of inorganic cannabis fertilizers, or manure or slurry. Besides supplying nitrogen, ammonia can also increase soil acidity (lower pH, or "souring"). Excessive nitrogen marijuana fertilizer applications can also lead to pest problems by increasing the birth rate, longevity and overall fitness of certain pests.
The concentration of up to 100 mg/kg of cadmium in phosphate minerals (for example, minerals from Nauru and the Christmas islands) increases the contamination of soil with cadmium, for example in New Zealand. Uranium is another example of a contaminant often found in phosphate marijuana fertilizers.
For these reasons, it is recommended that knowledge of the nutrient content of the soil and nutrient requirements of the cannabis crop are carefully balanced with application of nutrients in inorganic marijuana fertilizer especially. This process is called nutrient budgeting. By careful monitoring of soil conditions, marijuana growers can avoid wasting expensive cannabis fertilizers, and also avoid the potential costs of cleaning up any pollution created as a byproduct of their cannabis growing.
It is also possible to over-apply organic marijuana fertilizers; however, their nutrient content, their solubility, and their release rates are typically much lower than chemical cannabis fertilizers. By their nature, most organic marijuana fertilizers also provide increased physical and biological storage mechanisms to soils, which tend to mitigate their risks.