Effect of organic biostimulants on cannabis productivity and soil microbial activity under outdoor conditions

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In 2019 and 2020, we investigated the individual and combined effects of two biofertilizers (manure tea and bioinoculant) and one humic acid (HA) product on cannabis biochemical and physiological parameters and soil CO2 evolution under outdoor conditions. Our hypothesis was that HA would increase the microbial activity in the biofertilizers and synergy of both compounds would promote better plant performance and stimulate soil microbial activity. In 2020, the individual and combined application of biofertilizers and HA increased cannabis height, chlorophyll content, photosynthetic efficiency, aboveground biomass, and bucked biomass by 105, 52, 43, 122, and 117%, respectively. Impacts were greater under suboptimal growing conditions caused by planting delay experienced in 2020. In 2019, planting date occurred in-between the most favorable period and chlorophyll content and photosynthetic efficiency were the only parameters influenced by the application of biostimulants. The discrepancies between the two growing seasons reinforce the evidence of other studies that biostimulants efficacy is maximized under stress conditions. This study could not conclusively confirm that the combined use of biofertilizer + HA is a superior practice since affected plant parameters did not differ from application of the compounds singly. Similarly, only one biofertilizer + HA treatment increased soil microbial activity. More research is needed to define optimum rates and combinations of biofertilizer and stimulants for cannabis.

Journal of Cannabis Research. 2024 Mar 26;6(1):16