The quality of soil used for growing Hemp can greatly impact how much CBD is produced, as well as how dependable the resulting products are. In this episode, Peter Saavedra, the CEO of Kind Roots, joins to discuss hemp growth and his Soil Balance System.
Peter Saavedra assisted with the creation of the probiotic fertilizer, not only to increase nutrients in various crops but also to be used for cannabis cultivation. Listen in to hear more about the outstanding results from utilizing probiotic fertilizer for Hemp, and how this product is changing the CBD industry.
Insights From The Episode
- How Peter’s love for earth and nature led him to enter the agricultural field.
- What the stunning results were from cannabis cultivators using the Soil Balance System.
- How Kind Roots grew as a consulting firm, and began to see more customers producing better cannabis across the board.
- What the science is behind the Soil Balance System, and how it is unique compared to other fertilizers.
- Why high-quality fertilizers might potentially change the CBD industry, and how it may impact our own health as people.
- How quality might set apart various CBD companies, and why empathy may be a valuable aspect to rebalance the industry.
Resources & Links From The Episode
- The Soil Balance System – Kind Roots.
- The Cannabis Terpenes – Molecules.
- Trace Elements in Soil and Plants – Food Chains and Human Nutrition.
Connect With The Guest
- Kind Roots (website)
- Kind Roots on Instagram
- Kind Roots on LinkedIn
- Kind Roots on Twitter
- Kind Roots on YouTube
- Kind Roots Trading (website)
- Sepixa (website)
About Kind Roots
Kind Roots is a proud distributor of Soil Balance technology. Soil Balance Probiotics are designed to increase plant oil production, terpenes, flavonoids, root health, and plant nutrient density. These probiotics have been created to provide growers with real results while doing it all naturally. Kinds Roots is dedicated to providing natural products and services to all growers who work to develop nutrient-dense food and herbs. With over 20 years of testing and refining their plant probiotics, Kind Roots serves the stewards and caretakers of the land.
Scott: Hey, what’s going on everyone, Scott here, and welcome to another episode of the CBD Guide Podcast. Got a great one for you today. I’m really happy to be joined by Peter Saavedra who is the CEO of Kind Roots, which is a company that sells plant probiotics, particularly to aid hemp growers. So, we’re kind of continuing our discussion about growing hemp and kind of this agricultural focus we’ve had. Peter, welcome to the show.
Peter: Very nice to be here, thank you so much for having me, Scott.
Scott: Well, thanks for joining us. How are things going? It’s a Monday, how was your weekend?
Peter: Fantastic weekend, got to spend it with the kids and my wife. So, very good.
Scott: That’s awesome. Yeah, same here, spent time with the family. I’m located in Chicago here. The football season has started and we have northwestern season tickets, so, we’ve been doing the tailgating thing and it’s been nice to be back and seeing all that and seeing friends. So, I guess to kick this off really, can you tell us just a bit more about your career in education and I guess what got you into agriculture, what made you decide to focus your agricultural efforts on hemp? I just find it so fascinating, just plant probiotics and things. So, I guess, to start from the beginning, how’d you get into all that?
Peter: Yeah. It’s been an interesting journey. So, I am a regenerative organic sustainable agriculture consultant. So, I’ve been doing that for the past 20 years. And really how I got in was I wanted to do something that would benefit the Earth and benefit nature and I had a pretty deep connection with plants when I was younger. And, so, it’s an interesting story. When I was 19, I was working as a bellman at a hotel and I had overheard these two gentlemen talking about this product that could create nutrient-dense food and it would be so healthy and so full of energy, cosmic energy, that it could help heal humans and elevate our consciousness. And what they were talking about, at the time, was a cultivation methodology called “biodynamic agriculture.” And when I heard about it, I was like, “Oh, that’s for me. I wanna get into that, I wanna create really nutrient-dense food that’s full of flavor and aroma.”
And, so, I began focusing, at that time…I’m 43 now but, back then, I was 19, and I began focusing on soil physics and soil chemistry and trying to understand how I could care for plants and how I could grow nutrient-dense food that would, essentially, do that. And they were talking about the energy aspects of it too, which I also found very fascinating. So, you know, it’s like, when you’re at that age, “What do I wanna do with my life?” Well, that resonated completely and I thought, “This is for me.” So, again, studying as much as I could…and I wanted to go to college for it, so, I went to the local university. And I didn’t really get the education that I was hoping for because a lot of it was revolved around different fertilizers and minerals and things like that and I really wanted to learn more about the energy aspect and cultivating with natural organic products.
So, I left college and I was able to learn from some of the top minds in the organic field that were cultivating with nature. So, I learned so many different cultural methodologies and cultivation approaches to cultivating the plant. And one of the things that I learned that was kind of the gel to the entire growing system was the life and the energy that we put into the soil was everything. It had such far-reaching benefits into nutrient absorption, water retention, carbon sequestration, and nutrient density. Without that life in place, it seemed like all these other factors of us trying to care for the plant didn’t really cohesively connect with, not only our energetic but the physics of how we were caring for our plants. And, so, I decided that I wanted to learn about the microbes. And, so, that’s kind of the beginning.
Scott: Wow. So, we grow all kinds of things, we grow food, we grow all of this. Where does then your focus kind of says, “Okay, and I can apply this to hemp plants,” where does hemp then come into the picture?
Peter: Yeah. Well, early in my career, what I was doing in using the microbes was to increase nutrient density. So, that was the big thing, the value proposition we were going after was increased yields. Right? Or, for the cannabis grower, bigger buds. But I wasn’t into cannabis, at that time, because it was very illegal and we couldn’t even mention it. So, basically, I was working with large-scale commercial growers and we were going after yield enhancement.
Now, what was interesting that I learned was that, in growing a commodity, growing a tomato or a cantaloupe or a cucumber, when you’re putting in fertilizer and a probiotic digestive system to enhance nutrient absorption, what you’re essentially doing and what most farmers do is they’re pushing the plant’s primary metabolic process, which is to grow big. Bigger leaves, bigger buds. Right? Bigger fruit, more fruit. And, so, that’s kind of how agriculture is set up right now. Now, what we started learning over the years with this is that the increase in yield, it’s a very saturated market. And we were seeing that, by adding the biology to the soil, we were getting tomatoes that tasted better, that smelled better.
Scott: There weren’t just more yield, you were getting like, “Hey, this is a better tomato.”
Peter: Right. The trace nutrients were way through the roof. The copper, the boron, the zinc. And we were like, “Wow, this is amazing that the plant is actually able to have a better smell and a better color and a better flavor.” So, from there, working with some of the top flower producers in the world and seeing the aesthetics of golf courses, the green…and, unfortunately, in the food industry, nobody really cared what it smelled or tasted like, they just wanted to produce more. So, that’s how cannabis cultivators started buying our product and calling us and saying, “Our terpenes are going through the roof,” or, “instead of just bigger buds, now I have an equal flower-to-oil ratio where my buds are big but my plants are dripping with oil and the terpene profiles are so much more comprehensive and diverse. Instead of five types of terpenes, I’ve got 20 types of terpenes and they’re all at balanced levels.”
We started getting this feedback. Because what we were doing was our microbes were actually increasing the trace nutrient absorption, which the cannabis plant uses as the building blocks to create terpenes and oil production. It’s essentially stimulating the plants’ microbiome because the particle size of the nutrients are small enough that the microbes in the plant can feed on them and create more glucose, which, we believe, creates more oil. So, our growers started to just get a lot more oil than any other product they had ever used. Because now they were working in a system that had life, a highly biologically active system that could, essentially, break down and increase, not only your nitrogen, your phosphorus, and your potassium but your trace nutrients. Which we believe are the building blocks for aroma, flavor, and oil production.
Scott: So, really, it wasn’t just, “Oh, we’ve got these bigger buds,” now you’re actually getting like more oil, you’re getting all of these kinds of things that you want and sort of the plant is naturally responding to that. I can imagine how maybe the story went but I’m curious if you can fill in the blanks. You realized that folks are buying your products and having all these results, how did you then say, “Okay, we gotta lean into this,” so to speak?
Peter: Yeah. Well, for me it was really…I wanted to come from a place of giving. Right? And, so, I was kind of nervous to jump in full bore into the cannabis space because we had a lot of customers that were just not cannabis-friendly. I was and I always have been but what I saw in 2017 was I saw those same guys that were against it and against cannabis, now growing hemp, that had been the people in the past who have just been not on the side of this plant. And, so, I saw them struggling and I saw them trying to grow hemp in North Carolina when the pilot projects came out. And I said, “Listen, I’ve been studying how to grow organically for 20 years and these guys don’t know what they’re doing. They’ve never done this before, they’re trying to grow organic for the first time. They can’t use any pesticides or anything.” And, so, I dove right in and I just helped them. They needed that support.
And, so, in 2017, we began consulting for conventional farmers that now had to grow organically. And my whole thing was, “I wanna show the world that this is possible. I wanna produce a better quality product than anybody else in the industry utilizing microbes and organic fertilizers and show that it’s possible to protect the crop.” So, we advised these guys for years. In 2017 and 18 and 2019 my company, Kind Roots, became one of the top consulting firms in the hemp space. We consulted for 162 large-scale industrial hemp operations and our plants had over 30%…this was a median average, our plans had over 30% more oil than the non-treated. But we were seeing results that nobody had ever experienced, right, in a brand new industry. We were getting 4,500 to 5,000 pounds of hemp flour, CBD-rich, versus the competing farms around us that were due in 2,000 to 2,500 in those heterogeneous soils. We were seeing terpene levels at 2.5 in our CBD plants versus the competing farms in the area, we’re getting 0.1, 0.5 maybe, 0.75 maybe at the highest. And we were hitting over 1% with the majority of our customers. Which really helped our cultivators attain a better price point because their material was efficacious.
Scott: Right. I was gonna say that the efficacy had to be so much better.
Peter: Yeah, tenfold better. And we had tons of different trials and results where people were actually taking CBD isolate, back in the day, and, you know, it was okay but they were kind of disenchanted with it. Which kind of hurt the marketplace. Whereas, when we had our flower that had 2.5 terpenes and we were extracting it in a way to protect those terpenes and having that included in the CBD, I mean it was a game-changer. People were almost feeling like they were high off of our CBD products, our customers, without the psychoactive effect. But their bodies, the sensations, everything from that rich terpene profile was as if they were using cannabis but it was completely legal, without the psychoactive effect. But everything else was there, present.
Scott: That’s so incredible. And, when you think about how many different products there are out there, how much competition there is, that’s the kind of stuff that really can separate whether it’s a hemp farm or someone creating CBD products where the sourcing is so critical. That makes a difference, right?
Peter: Huge, huge. And I saw it. In working with so many farmers, I would see guys put out their CBD product and they would get sales but there weren’t the repeat sales. It was like people would try it and they would say, “Well, what am I supposed to feel? I’m taking this CBD isolate and,” you know, “I believe in it, I believe in the plant, I wanna take it,” but then they wouldn’t buy it again. It was almost like, “Yeah, I’ll take it as an herb, that’s good for me, but I don’t feel anything when I’m taking this product.”
And then I saw my clientele that was actually selling product and growing their businesses. And they had high amounts of terpenes in there because they were using our product and they didn’t really know about terpenes but they had the terpenes in there, so, their product became desirable. People were attracted to it because they felt something. They felt a little something, whether it be more relaxed or all of the multifaceted benefits that this comprehensive plant can offer, they were feeling it. They felt it. And that’s why their company succeeded. And it was interesting to watch my customers expand.
And we expanded into the MMJ world as well. So, now, in a saturated marketplace, we have big customers, like two of the biggest privately-held cannabis companies in the world right now are using our product in their operations and they’re expanding. One of those is a company called Tweedly, [SP] They just started using our product and they said, “Please tell to the world that we use your product because it has helped us expand.”
Scott: I mean it’s so powerful and so incredible. And I love the fact that this is organic, this is things that are natural, it’s not pesticides, it’s not all these kinds of things. You talk about the Soil Balance System and you’ve been kind of alluding to some of the things, but could you bring it all together for us? What exactly is this sort of Soil Balance System and how does it all work, if you were to paint the whole picture?
Peter: Yeah. So, like I said, one of the things that’s really missing in cultivation methodologies right now is people giving a big importance to the life that we add into the soil. Right? We’ve got our fertilizers, we’ve got our water, we’ve got our care techniques in our environment but the life in there is unseen. So, the Soil Balance System is really utilizing all of those eclectic aspects of cultivation and really introducing an element, which is a highly biologically active system. Which people try to do with compost teas but there’s challenges with that, or a lot of biostimulants that have been used for thousands of years, there’s challenges with that. So, what we’ve done is we’ve found some microorganisms that actually do one thing, they compost carbon. They compost soil carbon, root carbon, or root exudate, so they can be used in hydroponic systems, and carbon from the atmosphere.
And, as they’re doing that work, you can think of these microbes as like the front-line workers to a pandemic, these guys are just there to compost carbon and turn it into a substance called humus is so important to have on your roots, even in hydroponic systems. That material is gonna be filled with different types of macro/micronutrients that your plant really needs. And it can help regulate water absorption and help regulate nutrient absorption.
So, the system that we developed was around the utilization of a highly biologically active system. So, what we do is we actually have set up these key markers to go about the entire cultivation process, whether you’re in cocoa or hydro or soil. What we usually do is we begin by testing the bioavailable nutrients that are in the mediums, that you’re gonna put this plant in. So, a lot of people don’t go to this depth. Right? They’re like, “Well, I’m just gonna give it some of this and some of that and some of this.”
Scott: I got some dirt here, it’s good.
Peter: Yeah, yeah, “I got the soil,” but we take it way deeper to produce really high quality. Right? Because it’s the boutique highest quality that’s gonna win over the industry at the end of the day, it’s all coming down to quality in a saturated marketplace. If you wanna run a successful business cultivating this plant. And, so, our goal was to produce the highest quality, and that’s how we developed the Soil Balance System. What we did was we actually would do a certain type of soil test, or medium test, even if it’s potting soil, and we would do a different kind of analysis than what the universities would do. So, most universities test the soil nutrients and see what’s in there. We wanted to see what the plant could actually absorb. So, we did CO2 analysis of the nutrients in the soil versus an acid-base test. And then we could say, “Okay, the plant has,” or, “the soil medium has this much nitrogen, this much phosphorus. Great. But how much can it actually absorb in the beginning stages of its little life, as it’s getting started and how much is it gonna be able to absorb in a highly biologically active system with microbes?”
So, this was like step number one. So, once we configured that, then we could make initial fertilizer recommendations. And what happened in hemp, and this is where the industry really had a hard time with getting their CBD levels up, is they were taking fertilizer recommendations from a lot of the big fertilizer dealers and they were saying, “Well, front load your nitrogen really high.” And, so, what ended up happening in the hemp industry, and sometimes this happens with new growers, is you get these big plants, right, these big leaves and these big buds but they’re very low in oil production.
Scott: Right, not giving what you really want out of the plant.
Peter: Yeah, you want the oil. So, instead, your ratios are off because you’re over-fertilizing and, what’s called, front-loading. Right? So, you put in way too much nitrogen, you get big beautiful green leaves and you get these huge buds, you know, with 17%-18% THC or 10% or 8% CBD. And that’s what happened, that’s what hurt the industry so much. So, what we did was we came in and we said, “Hey, let’s not push the plants’ primary metabolic process.” So, just so you understand I’ll give you a little science here. The plant has two different metabolic processes. The primary one is to grow leaves and buds. The secondary metabolic process is to push for oil. Okay? So, there’s two. So, you have to be considerate of both of those things as you’re cultivating this very special plant. So, what we did by testing the soil initially using a certain type of soil analysis, using, again, CO2 extraction of the nutrients, we saw what the plant could absorb, and then we only gave it, in the beginning, what it would need to have optimal growth. But we also stimulated it with trace nutrients like sea minerals or humic acid or fulvic acid, those types of things, to actually have that plant get ready to increase its glucose levels. So, anyways, I don’t wanna get too deep into the science but I will just keep going over the system a little bit more simplistic.
So, after we made precision fertilization recommendations on exactly what the grower would need in the very beginning stages, then we did something called pedial analysis. So, we would actually take not a leaf and look at deposited nutrients but we would actually pull off the whole leaf and pedial…or petiole I think is the correct way to enunciate it. We would send that into a lab and we would do a sap analysis. So, we would actually look at the nutrients that were in the plants’ vascular system.
Scott: So, that’s like basically you have the leaf and then you have, I guess, almost like a branch. Is that kind of what the petiole would be?
Peter: Yeah, exactly. It’s kind of like a branch. And when you mush it up, you can actually do an analysis of its veins, right, or get like an IV of what’s going on inside there. And you pull, what’s called, glucose out and then you can see all the different nutrients. So, what was really cool is we got to identify any excesses or deficiencies that the plant could have 20 days before it had it. And that’s how we would do our fertilization. We’d be like, “Okay, he’s gonna need some copper. He’s gonna need some boron to go into flower production,” and we would make, again, more fertilization recommendations to our growers so that way we had optimal flower-to-oil ratios. And that’s how we got THC over 30% with a lot of our customers, terpenes up to 2% and above consistently on large-scale operations. And that’s how our hemp growers were all hitting 19% CBD and above, but the differentiator was that we were hitting 1% terpenes. And that is what I believe will change the game for the CBD industry, it’s how we grow it.
Scott: And it makes so much sense, you’ve been going over this just amazing system. And, when you think about probiotics themselves, my experience with probiotics is just what we’re learning more about humans and us and how you have your gut biome and how that can affect everything like your mood and how your whole body is regulated. So, wow, doesn’t it make sense that, if we’re growing things in the ground, be it food or otherwise, that those principles might apply?
Peter: Yeah. It’s so relative that it’s scary, believe it or not. And people aren’t consciously connected to this enough. But the Earth, in the top 6 to 12 inches of our soil, has its own microbiome. She, our Mother Earth has all these different kinds of microbes that are so supportive too, not only plant health, but human health. And those same microbes in the soil go into the foods, into the grapes and the apples and things that we eat that give us our immunity. And when we don’t have an awareness for that and those microbes and we destroy them, what can happen is we’re, essentially, destroying ourselves. We’re destroying our ability to evolve in so many ways, a healthy way.
Scott: Right, leaving it out before it ever gets there. That’s not a good thing. Peter, as we kind of wind down our chat here, I always like to look to the future. I mean you’ve built this so much success, you’re helping so many growers get the most out of their crops, their plants. What’s next when you look at the wider landscape of hemp and cannabis agriculture as a whole? How might it change in the months and years to come now that you guys have discovered so much of the power of this? What comes next?
Peter: Well, it depends on how deep into the future we wanna go. My hope is that we can really focus on quality now and we can really focus on cultivating with the elements that are going to increase that quality, which are things like the different microbial inoculants. I think people should use as many microbial inoculants as they can because that’s what’s gonna set their quality apart, which is the only way for the growers and the customers that I have, that I know and love and cherish and respect and honor for the work that they’re doing, quality is what will set them apart.
And, so, with that being said, it’s not just soil balance, it’s not just this product or that product, use all of them. Support these companies that are trying to bring life back to the soil because, at the end of the day, whatever system you are using, the environment will dictate what biology survives and what biology dies. So, by putting in combinations of microorganisms, different amounts and different types and different strains, you’re going to just experience a whole different level of quality and the connection with the plant and with the life that you’re providing. And that really is the essence of what I see the future. So, it’s not what we can do on our own but what we produce in combination that make us all effective. And right now, if we’re putting in these types of microbes to support our plants, those microbes have a deep empathy and care for the plant. That’s the same thing that we need, and I hope that becomes the future, that empathy is the thing that actually rebalances our systems and our industry.
Scott: A hundred percent. And this ties in so neatly to things that I’ve talked about before on this show. And so many folks that are starting CBD businesses or farming hemp, or whatever they’re doing, there’s been such an explosion and there’s a bit of a gold rush and there’s folks that are maybe not doing things the right way, not approaching things with that care. And my optimistic view, especially folks like yourself, is that the quality will rise to the top and folks doing things the right way, those are the products that are gonna last, those are the ones that are gonna help people.
Peter: Yeah, supporting the people that are doing things in integrity with nature, that are doing things sustainably, that are doing things organically, if possible. And it is hard with a lot of the resources that people don’t have to go all organic but, you know, it is something that will save us and our species. And this plant and the whole system around it, it’s like biomimicry, it’s like we, essentially, are so interdependent on one another and interconnected. And, so, just having some empathy around that system and respect for it, if you’re going to receive this plant, you’re gonna connect to this plant, cultivate it with love and integrity. That’s how I see it. That produces the best quality. It really produces the best quality…
Scott: It’ll give it back to you. The plant will give it back to you, right?
Peter: Yes, totally, 100%.
Scott: Peter, thank you so much for joining me on the show today, sharing your story and just so many insights. Really incredible stuff. And, if folks are interested in learning more, maybe they wanna find out how the Soil Balance System could work for them and their growth, where can they do that? Where should they connect to find out more?
Peter: We have several websites. The main website is soilbalancepro.com. Or you can just type in “soil balance,” the word “soil balance” into Google, we’re pretty high up there already. And we have another website called kindrootstrading.com where we are trying to support our hemp growers by extracting terpenes. And we sell those because our guys have so many terpenes or such high levels of terpenes. And then our agriculture site is sepixa.com. And yeah, that would be where to find us.
Scott: Awesome. And we’ll make sure to have all those links in the show notes, of course. Thanks again, Peter.
Peter: Thank you, Scott. Thank you so much for your work.