Despite the excesses of the corporate Green Rush, small businesses geared around helping the home grower get the most out of their soil and cannabis crop seem to be flourishing.
Soil Balance came to our attention after an endorsement by an Emerald Cup winner, as well as some pretty remarkable reviews. They may not have started out in cannabis, but the microbe concentrate formulas they developed in the organic farming industry are turning heads for their ability to boost terpenes, plant health, and overall oil production.
We sat down with founder Peter Saavedra for a chat about his career trajectory, Soil Balance’s approach to plant nutrition, and the incredible results he’s seeing.
“I studied business and agriculture at the University of Arizona,” he tells Skunk, “at that time, agriculture and microbiology were interdisciplinary. I made the decision to move away from the world of academia after 3 years to study from organic and regenerative thought leaders and cultivators at an early age.”
Bringing Industry Lessons Home
Agriculture is a hard thing to get right when you want to respect your crop. As much as we love the cannabis plant, we seem determined to do it just as dirty as every other plant species we cultivate en masse. The explosion of commercial-scale cannabis and hemp cultivation for flower, concentrates, and a staggering number of other products we wouldn’t have been able to imagine a decade ago parallels much of the modern history of industrial food production. High volume, low-quality yield becomes everything, and many intriguing but less profitable strains seem destined to fall by the wayside as the spectre of a corporate monoculture in cannabis rears its ugly head. But it isn’t all doom and gloom just yet.
Before coming to the world of hemp and cannabis growers, Saavedra cut his teeth helping commercial farming operations transition to organic methods. It turned out to be the perfect training for Soil Balance, and for understanding the needs of farmers and cultivators at every level, right down to the home grower looking for something better.
“I am a regenerative and sustainable agriculture consultant. I’ve been doing this work for a little over fifteen years. In that time our group has focused on nutrient-dense food production with large-scale USDA certified organic farms. After refining our craft in the commercial sector we really hadn’t taken our approaches to the home gardener or small grower. Our focus was on doing the most possible good by restoring balance and life to large amounts of dead and troubled soil with organic methods. Soil Balance is everything we learned in those years.”
The Formula for Increased Trace Nutrient Absorption, Terpenes and an Enhanced Root Digestive System
Before making the move to hemp, Saavedra helped scale multiple organic farming operations throughout the United States.
“In the course of that work, I aligned with a microbiologist who discovered a new naturally-occurring combination of soil microbes, which is now our formula for Soil Balance. We discovered this new combination of microbes almost by accident in soil trials where plants were so much larger than the others. We found that microbe combinations had a higher efficacy than what a single microbe achieved alone with regards to increasing trace nutrient absorption. In hemp and cannabis, trace nutrients are the building blocks for terpenoid production, CBD and THC synthase enzyme production, and the plant’s total oil output. Yes, biomass and yield are important market factors, but we aren’t growing a tomato, we’re growing for oil production and biology is what accomplishes that. Microbes are what it takes to create a symphony of enhanced aroma, color, and flavor in a nutrient dense plant. We found rhizobacteria microbes that are perfect for sterile environments when cultivating cannabis.”
“The enhanced root digestive system of microbe combinations in larger numbers assists with regulating under or over fertilization and over or under watering. Soil Balance is a plant probiotic with more populations of microbes per gallon or per gram than almost any other product in the world. These microbes colonize the root in any natural soil medium, including hydroponics and soil-less mediums, and have a major focus on trace nutrient absorption. This means everything for quality and yield enhancement. In place of just increasing one element of plant nutrition, we’ve been fortunate to discover a probiotic combination that enhances all of the macro and micro nutrients the cannabis plant needs for growth and the best outputs of quality.”
Across every category a grower can measure, Saavedra was getting incredible results. “The terpene results our customers experienced were really spectacular. We started seeing massive increases in terpenes in all cannabis cultivation methodologies,” Saavedra says. “Not just that, we have third party data on it. We can prove the boost in oil production, we can prove the higher trichome density in treated versus non-treated crops.”
“There’s Nothing Else Out There…”
When pressed for specifics, Saavedra tells Skunk “I don’t like to throw numbers around. I have the hard data if people want to read them, and I hope they do. Oftentimes the numbers look so good they are hard to truly receive as accurate. In most cases our customers see their plants’ vital force shift after using Soil Balance for under 15 days. Our growing client base is made up of cultivators at every level, seeking out elevated standards. From our research and customer feedback, there really is nothing else out there that increases terpenes like Soil Balance.”
Plant probiotics aren’t anything new, but the quality of what’s been available at the retail level hasn’t really measured up, especially when comparing organic to chemical counterparts. Ultimately, Soil Balance is about levelling the playing field. “We’re giving the home grower the ability to grow a higher quality product with a formulation refined in commercial agriculture. It has proven staying power in the golf, flower, and large scale agriculture markets and has proven itself over the last four years in the cannabis space.”
Growing has evolved.
There have always been cultivators who took their craft more seriously than others. In many ways, corporate cannabis fell a step further behind them by flooding the market with cheap, dry, mass-produced bud. Some of it may have been high in THC, but it missed the mark in every other way. According to Saavedra “It may very well be that the life or biology we offer our plants is equally important to the nutrients and minerals they receive from us. Soil Balance is a part of that life.” He advocates the use of his discovery and any other naturally occurring microbes that work in soil-less, hydroponic, sterile and living soil mediums. “At the end of the day, the environment and growing medium will dictate what microbes thrive and which ones perish. Biodiversity has been the secret used by the cannabis industry’s top growers for many years now. We’ve found the microbial biodiversity in Soil Balance that enhances terpenes. I believe terpenes are the future of our craft and our plant’s true benefit.”
The home grower should aim higher, and good science combined with deep care for the plant will always show through, even if it’s just the one on your back porch.