High pressure aeroponics at North 40 Cannabis

| David Brown

I spoke to master grower Gord Nichol about the grow method used at North 40 Cannabis – high pressure aeroponics – and on where he sees the goal line in quality for the cannabis he grows. -Brad Martin (Pancake Nap)

High Pressure Aeroponics Methodology 

North 40 uses a high pressure aeroponics system to grow their cannabis. Gord shared that this is the same technology NASA uses in space to grow food. Studies performed by NASA suggest this method of growing uses 98% less water, 60% less fertilizer and 100% less pesticides than conventional agriculture, all while yielding up to 75% more production (Spin 2006, retrieved from www.nasa.gov)

The system pressurizes the nutrient delivery lines, and using a misting nozzle the nutrient solution is delivered to the plant’s roots in a fine mist. As Gord explains, the goal is to deliver the nutrient in a size less than 50 microns, which is the best size for nutrient absorption by the root, at the perfect interval, which increases oxygen exposure to the root.

Apart from monitoring nutrient level, pH and water temperature, flow of the nutrient solution through the atomizer is metered to ensure the roots stay hydrated and any problems in the line are diagnosed quickly. The nozzle heads are changed frequently to prevent clogging within the system. They change them at the vegetation stage of every grow, said Gord.

He describes the root system as being contained in PVC pipe with the nutrient system delivered internally. No pesticides or fungicide are being used and the product passes microbial testing without the use of e-beam or irradiation.

Gord has been using the system for six years through his ACMPR grows. Now, it’s utilized for the 2,000 square foot canopy at North 40 which currently employs 16 people. The canopy is separated throughout seven rooms that are about 285 square feet each, which is about the size of a hotel room without the bathroom and hallway. 

Qualitative Discussion

North 40 grows genetics that Gord selected during his ACMPR grows; a blue cheese, green crack and Jordan of the Island’s God Bud.

Master grower and trimmer, Gord notes his product is hand-trimmed and hang-dried. I asked him as a consumer, where the goal line is for cannabis quality? 

As a daily smoker himself, he chooses strains that are not only highly potent, but reliable as well. For him taste and terpene content are most important, in that order. A cultivar that tests about average but “had no taste” isn’t satisfactory. He also won’t release flowers that test under 20% THC, which is above average for the current market. 

Previously, Gord worked as a project manager in Alberta’s oil and gas sector. At North 40 Gord works his own shop. Active on social media, frequently sharing both his triumphs and the troubles along the way, he says his aim is transparency and accessibility, which he hopes embodies the North 40 brand.

North 40’s cannabis is currently available at Shelter Market. Gord’s tried and true Green Crack and Blue Cheese phenotypes are available alongside Colada, one of three new cultivars obtained from Mother Labs (the others being phenotypes of In House Genetics’ Black Cherry Punch and Seed Junky’s Ice Cream Cake).

They are anticipating obtaining their sales licence this year and will commence direct sales to medical patients.