Improving Yield, Reducing Footprint with Terraponics
Justin Trudeau’s election as prime minister of Canada raised hopes for Canada’s cannabis community who saw him as a major ally in the fight to legalize cannabis throughout the country. Indeed, in July 2015, Trudeau issued a mandate to the minister of justice and attorney general of Canada to,
Working with the Ministers of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Health, create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.
In other words, find a way to legalize marijuana and allow the cannabis community and the law to move into the future in peace.
So where has that effort led one year later? Certainly not to clarity.
According to horticulturist Joe Pare, “I am unsure, as are most Canadians, what’s going to happen. One day it’s this; next day it’s that. Who knows?”
Terraponics Growth Method
Joe Parr, production and automation consultant for Supernatural Brand in British Columbia, has been in the plant-growing business since he was “in diapers eating dirt in the corner of my parents’ garden.” But his serious education didn’t begin until he “went out west and learned from Brian.”
Brian France founded Supernatural Brand in 1981 because he discovered structural flaws with every other growing technique. His answer was a complete grow system known as terraponics growth method. His Supernatural Brand product line includes growth medium, air-pressure powered growing systems, nutrients for soil and hydroponics, and nutrient additives to guide plants through their entire growing cycle. All component parts of the complete system are reusable, except for the nutrients, which need to be replenished after each cycle of growth.
“We are in the business of helping others to grow: herbs, vegetables, fruits,” says Joe. “Because we sell a growing system, it is used for over 500 different kinds of plants around the world.”
“I could explain for days about what the terraponics growth method is,” he continues. “Simply put, it is the fusion of pure virgin clean earth elements with purified minerals combined with an air-pressure-powered nutrient reservoir delivery system attached to the growing surface.”
Terra-soil, Supernatural Brand’s patented pending terraponics soil, is a blend of bog materials, leonardite, perlite, and vermiculite. Like organic soil, terra-soil uses no pesticides, herbicides, or dangerous chemicals. But, Joe says, it is “a step above organic in that it has no animal byproducts; no waste materials of decomposing animal, human, plant, fecal, or urea matter; no
harsh chemical or foreign object debris of any kind.”
The soil and purified minerals are mined from forty-six countries around the world. “All of our systems are tested in–house; our materials are lab-tested with accredited suppliers for validation. We make sure our ingredients are pure with no fillers.”
The result for growers, Joe says, is
- Ability to achieve six to seven grow cycles in a 365-day calendar year: “We control plant food, feeding cycle duration, process, and environment and in this way we achieve faster start-to-finish cycles, usually by 20 to 40 percent. Our average growing time is 2 months, 17 days. Knowing what product you are growing and how it performs will guide you to precision in terms of time, space, capital, output quality, and other metrics.”
- Greater yield: “We understand what the plant needs at each hour along the way. Growth is different at night and during the day. By controlling photoperiods, you control everything you want the plant to do. Differences include feeding duration, intervals, correct amounts, and constant control of grow space.”
- Reduced environmental impact: “We reuse everything on our table: our soil, our bags; and we utilize the most efficient use of water possible. For instance, with our built-in reservoir, water level is adjustable to whatever plant you are growing. There is zero waste.”
He attributes his conclusion to metrics:
What is your growing time? How much did it cost you to get what you produced? How much capital, time did you have to put in? What were labor costs? You take your finished product to a lab to validate its purity, including that you didn’t use animal byproducts, waste material, or bad chemicals. How much product is reused? How much water and electricity was used? How easy was it to achieve your results? These are some factors that we constantly measure for value. Our system has shown to be up to 70 percent more efficient than other methods.
No Single Bullet
According to Joe, France began researching and inventing at a young age, “always building prototypes to improve processes and earning a reputation of having a really green thumb, often astounding master gardeners.”
Brian has been a personal friend of mine for over thirty years, since I was in my teens. I was attracted to his company because the research that I discovered showed how beneficial the Supernatural system was. I got involved in growing super clean, healthy vegetation for people with cancer. I saw living people gain pain relief and appetite improvement with no side effects, getting healthier, feeling better, and many other benefits. I have never seen anyone switch back to another method. I still have my first customers from the late nineties and they are happier than ever.
From early 2000 to 2008, Joe was director of research and development in the company’s greenhouse facility, which consists of sixteen greenhouses on four acres. “We grew many types of vegetables, fruits, and herbs to test the formulations of nutrients and soil blends that we created. We came up with a foolproof grow system that anyone can use to achieve results like a veteran.”
Since 2008, he has researched and developed products to improve plant production and automation. A process that Joe doesn’t disclose because it is not yet protected will, he says, improve water purification, eliminate airborne and plant mold completely, and get rid of pests in a healthy, safe, approved way.
Today, Joe lives and works in Ontario but travels back and forth between there and British Columbia, where he maintains a second office. He also consults for commercial growers and markets his products worldwide.
He reflects on the company’s success as its sales continue to grow worldwide.
There is no single bullet that nailed the target bull’s eye. We track, measure, and improve daily. Using trial and error, we have tested for thousands of hours, many crops, many different techniques, styles, methods, research, growing environments. We are constantly collaborating with people around the world. In my twenty-plus years here, I have witnessed easily 200 different changes, and I am told there were easily 500 changes before my time.
Three Bonus Tips
- “Turning plants usually a quarter turn a day or every second day, helps reduce shadowing and allows larger formation and development.”
- “Plants love being able to eat from the bottom instead of drowning from the top. Roots absorb from every tip uniformly and don’t use energy looking for food. They transpose that energy to growing up top where it is needed most. Our roots never sit in still water. It’s always moving, then getting replaced by air.”
- “Maintaining the soil is simple: Don’t add anything; just follow instructions and you can use it almost forever.”