Evaluation of silica as a cannabis biostimulant for enhancement of nutrient uptake
Northern Hemp Specialists Ltd. produces a silica-based organic product, which has potential for use in the cannabis and hemp industries to act as a biostimulant. Silicon has been proven to have biostimulant properties and is being used more frequently in plant production, although very little research has been done on cannabis sativa, apart from anecdotal evidence. Much of the biostimulant properties of silicon pertain to alleviation of abiotic stresses and improved nutrient uptake.
To help determine the efficacy of adding silica as a biostimulant to cannabis soil, Niagara College, in collaboration with Northern Hemp Specialists Ltd., oversaw and analyzed the growth of cannabis plants, grown in soil amended with silica and a standard growing mix. The research trial was conducted at the College as a course-based project in the “CannaBunker” using cannabis sativa plants of the cultivar ‘White Shark,’ and also using hemp plants (cannabis sativa plants with less than 0.3% THC) of the cultivar ‘Katani’ in the NC greenhouse. Weekly measurements of height, chlorophyll content and number of nodes were recorded. A final destructive harvest was conducted with wet and dry weights recorded and dried plant material sent for analytical analysis of nutrient and cannabinoid content.
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Funding: Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) through their College Voucher for Technology Adoption (CVTA) program and the Niagara College-led Greenhouse Technology Network (GTN).