3 Factors Keeping Your Hydroponic pH From Being Perfect
Posted by Lee G. Leissett | August 27 2012 | 10901 views | Comments ↓
Experienced growers know that balancing pH takes patience.
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Keeping a balanced pH in a hydroponic system is often much easier said than done. But maintaining the correct pH level is essential for growing the best medical marijuana. There are many contributing factors, including user error, that influence pH fluctuation in any hydroponic garden. Keeping a consistent pH level for your plants means healthier growth and bigger yields, so it is very important for every medical marijuana gardener to master the art of pH control.
The Water Source
The largest factor in pH control is the water used in the hydroponic solution. Tap water contains a variety of minerals that directly and indirectly affect the pH of the solution. Over time, tap water’s “contaminates” can cause significant swings in pH. The truth of the matter is that tap water should be avoided in hydroponic systems because it is so unpredictable in terms of pH fluctuations.
Reverse osmosis devices or other filters intended to remove calcium and magnesium are most beneficial to hydroponic growers when trying to create a “clean palette” to work with. Remember that even distilled water and reverse osmosis water’s pH levels will be affected by the surrounding atmosphere, especially if high levels of CO2 are being supplemented. It is best to let the water sit for a few hours if possible before adjusting pH levels to ensure that some of the natural fluctuations that occur have run their course. This holds true for pH adjustments right after nutrients have been mixed into the water. If possible, a grower should wait to make adjustments after the solution has had a chance to “settle.”
The Growing Medium
The composition of the grow medium, no matter how inert it is, will affect the pH of the nutrient solution. Some mediums, like coco coir, affect the pH because of its tendency to hold particular elements which can change the composition of the solution and, in turn, affect the pH. Other growing mediums, such as rockwool, have their own pH value which may cause a pH fluctuation over time.
One of the most common errors made by hydroponic growers in terms of pH control is overcompensation. Impatient growers tend to experience this the most. After making adjustments to the pH of your nutrient solution it is imperative to wait long enough for the solution to become mixed thoroughly before testing the pH. Growers with constant pH monitors can vouch for the fact that it takes some time for the pH buffers added to a solution to take affect. It is very common for growers to add more pH up or down before they have waited long enough for the previously added dosage to take affect. The pH scale is an exponential scale, so growers must take that into consideration when making adjustments. In other words, if 1 tsp. of pH up brought you from 4.0 to 4.5 pH it may only take a 1/2 tsp or less to bring the solution from 4.5 to 5.0.
There are multiple factors that affect the pH of a hydroponic nutrient solution. New advanced in nutrient technology, like Advanced Nutrient's line of pH Perfect® base nutrients have come a long way in helping stabilize your pH levels and help you get bigger yields. However, the water, the nutrients, the medium, the atmospheric conditions of the growing environment, the microbial life found in the plant’s rhizosphere, and the growers themselves all play a role in pH fluctuation and stabilization. A better understanding of all the contributing factors affecting pH will help medical marijuana growers better control pH fluctuations within their hydroponic solution which will help maintain optimal growth and bountiful yields.
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Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Article by Lee G. Leissett, on Aug. 27th 2012