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Ask Erik: RAW! - Hydroponic Labels: What’s Missing Featured

When it comes to hydroponic growing products, you can't trust what you read on the label. When it comes to hydroponic growing products, you can't trust what you read on the label.

Q:
Surely you get lots of questions about feeding programs, but there is one question I am having a hard time finding a solid answer for, and perhaps you might help - it has to do with product labels.
What the guys at the store tell me the product is going to do just doesn’t seem to jive with what’s on the label sometimes. I’m not suggesting that there’s anything shady going on because more often than not, the products they talk up work as promised. What’s confusing is that the label ingredients don’t really represent what I am seeing in terms of cropping results.
For example, one of the products I use definitely increases essential oil contents, practically overnight! However, listed under ingredients is simply “magnesium sulfate.” While I am not a growing guru, I know this to be Epsom Salts, which while helping plants, cannot account for what I am seeing based on years of growing experience and observation.
Can you help explain this situation to me a bit? What the heck is going on?

A:
No doubt this frustrating and confusing situation is the result of antiquated fertilizer labelling laws. To me it’s absolutely ridiculous that hydroponic nutrient manufacturers are not allowed to list all of the ingredients in their products. Personally, I would think that by law, they should be required to list ALL of the ingredients inside a particular formulation, no different than buying ketchup at the grocery store. The recipe is safe for the manufacturer, while the consumer has a good understanding of what they are going to be putting into their bodies.


Because most of the labelling boards, at least in North America, are so out-of-the-times with what can benefit growers, they only allow stuff they “recognize” to be put on the labels. This also means that companies can’t make important claims about the benefits of products; these therefore must be observed and shared by word of mouth through the growing community. Theses label boards will even censor advertisements and claims both in print and on the web. Luckily some level of freedom of speech still exists and growers can refer one another to superior products.

Because most of the labelling boards, at least in North America, are so out-of-the-times with what can benefit growers, they only allow stuff they “recognize” to be put on the labels.

So in the example you are giving, I would wager large sums that there are other ingredients besides Epsom Salts in the formula you describe. Also, just because the label police don’t allow them to be listed doesn’t mean that substances aren’t safe or effective, just that the label folks don’t know much about it and therefore the maker of that product is not allowed to talk about it until they have spent years and millions of dollars educating the label folks about the benefits.
Hopefully one day soon these boards, authorities, laws, etc will be reviewed and updated so that they actually serve growers rather than bureaucrats. To me, a label is designed to bring clarity to a product not to create confusion or to mislead. The fact that they do the latter is a good indicator that these laws and regulations serve no one except those that collect the fees for registration.

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Cheers, Erik Biksa

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Wouldn't it be nice if the labels on your hydroponic nutrients weren't lying to you?
Last modified on Tuesday, 10 July 2012 14:50

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