Today we will talk about some of the most important things with regards to hydroponic nutrient management. When it comes to managing the hydroponic growing environment there's three things that we mainly should be concerned with:
The PH, electrical conductivity or EC, and temperature. The pH of the nutrient solution affects a plants ability to absorb nutrient minerals. In general plants prefer a pH that is slightly acidic. Most of the vital nutrients that plants need to grow are available between a pH of 5.8 and 6.5. Anything above or below these values could cause a lockout and nutrient deficiencies will follow.
Electrical conductivity equates to the total amount of nutrients that are in your solution. The minerals in the inorganic nutrients that you put into your systems conducts electricity, thus the higher the minerals the higher the EC. The catch however is that if you use the wrong nutrients, you will still get a high reading, but your plants will not grow properly! It is therefore critical that you ensure that you use a fertilizer with the correct amount of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium depending on what stage your plant is in. In my experience it really does not take a lot of EC to grow most plants. In fact, you can expect to grow great plants like herbs, greens, bok choy, kale, peppers and many more at an EC as low as 0.8 mS/cm. In contrast, the two most nutrient demanding crops in hydroponic systems are eggplants and tomatoes. To successfully grow both of these plant types you can aim for any EC of 2.0 mS/cm and then make adjustments based on deficiencies and whether or not the plant is in a vegetative a flowering or a ripening stage.
Although temperature is not a nutrient it can be just as important as EC and PH. When it comes to plant growth and development every plant prefers a certain temperature range and they can be especially sensitive during seedling phases and fruit development. Therefore, if you are a hydroponic grower and you manage your electrical conductivity, your pH, and your temperature, I know you will be successful.
Good luck and enjoy a fruitful grow.
About the Author
Christoff Boltman is the Seeds for Africa / H2GRO Hydroponic specialist. Christoff has been growing hydroponically for the last 15 years and welcomes the opportunity to share his experience and knowledge with our customers. Feel free to pop in at our showroom and Christoff will be delighted to show you around and advise you on what would best suit your needs.