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Hydroponics Nutrients Mixing and Balancing

What makes your hydroponics plants the happiest? What makes your hydroponics plants the happiest?

Many hydroponics growers are busy people who want to mix their nutrients, balance their pH, make sure the parts per million (ppm) is at target level, stir and relax as the pump, reservoir and irrigation equipment do the rest.

If you’re using the same root zone media over and over, the same plant genetics, the same reservoir and irrigation system, the same nutrients, the same pH/ppm meter, and if everything else is working ok, you can tell if your hydroponics nutrients are feeding properly by observing the growth rate, vigor and yields of your hydroponics plants.

However, if any variables are introduced into the situation, hydroponics nutrients absorption can drop below maximum efficiency…and you might not realize it soon enough, if ever.

These variables include things that are and aren’t in your control. In your control are variables such as how you mix and apply your nutrients, the quality of water you give your hydroponics plants, the accuracy of your ph/ppm meters and how meticulously you monitor and adjust ph/ppm, the integrity and consistency of your hydroponics nutrients, the strain of plant you’re growing, the quality and manufacturing standards of your root zone media, the type of indoor system you’re using (aeroponics, ebb and flow, etc.) and other factors.

That’s right…all these factors can and do influence how easily, quickly and effectively your plants absorb hydroponics nutrients. It’s similar to how you may notice that your automobile performs differently based on the octane or manufacturer’s brand of gasoline you give it.

In most situations, nutrients absorption problems won’t show themselves as devastatingly obvious signals, such as leaves that burn or turn yellow almost overnight.

Those are the easy cases, although sometimes the most heartbreaking, but at least you can see right away that something is terribly wrong. You’ve got plenty of warning, and you can troubleshoot your system and examine your plants in an urgent effort to fix the problems. It may not always work, but you have some advance warning.

Far more common is a situation in which hydroponics nutrients absorption problems are not so obviously seen. You aren’t seeing catastrophic crop problems. You may not even notice crop problems at all, but they’re there…like a ghost in the machine.

In some ways it really comes down to acceptable, better and best.  Here’s what I mean…

Your plants are intelligent, and they’ll do their best to source the specific nutrients they need at the time they need them. Not only that, they can often adapt themselves to conditions that are not ideal for them.

For example, if your root zone media is tending towards a pH that inhibits hydroponics nutrients absorption, or if your hydroponics nutrients don’t have the right ratios or forms of all the elements your plants need for their fastest growth and biggest yield, your plants will do their best to get what they need.

Your plants can limp along and produce a decent harvest. For some growers, that’s all they expect- a decent harvest.

For other growers, nutrients absorption maximization is a test of how dedicated you are to squeezing the biggest and most valuable yields from your plants so you get the highest return on  your hydroponics gardening investment.

In many cases, your plants will do “good enough” even if they’re suffering from nutrients absorption problems, but they won’t do great.

The effects of this are that you lose a percentage of the full potential for what you’ve spent on hydroponics equipment, nutrients, electricity and supplies. And that’s a minimum.

In some situations, we’ve seen crops that grow 10-50% slower than they could have, and produce 10-50% less yield, even though they did not show the more obvious symptoms of nutrients problems (such as leaf discoloration or curling).

Mixing and applying hydroponics nutrients

We’ll give you more strategies for managing your hydroponics nutrients in future RosebudMag.com articles, but a smart strategy that many growers are adopting is to use base nutrients and additives that your plants can absorb at maximum rates no matter the pH or condition of water and root zone media.

This strategy has been shown to have a broad range of benefits in handling the dizzying array of variables that can sometimes prevent your hydroponics plants from giving you their fastest growth and most profitable yields.

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Last modified on Friday, 22 October 2010 21:54

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