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Soil is Kind of Good Enough, But Hydroponics Nutrients Produce Bigger Yields

How best to grow beautiful hydroponics flowers? How best to grow beautiful hydroponics flowers? © RosebudMag.com

Here we are with useful data obtained when a grower mixed his own custom soil and used it to do a comparison grow meant to examine how soil performs against rockwool.

This experiment featured 12 clones from the same mother: six in soil and fed only water; six in rockwool fed synthetic base nutrients and synthorganic supplements.

After completing an entire season and harvesting his plants, the grower analyzed his extensive grow diaries and harvest statistics. We’ve already seen the following data:

  • The soil grown plants had more natural leaf color than plants grown in rockwool
  • The soil-grown plants grew slightly faster, but more vertical and less dense, than did the synthetic-fed plants
  • The soil-grown plants took longer to start flowering
  • The soil-grown plants took longer to be ready for harvest

Now we get down to the nitty gritty that most growers are concerned about: yield and quality achieved, and how much time and materials went into achieving it for each set of plants.

The grower noted with pleasure that his soil-grown plants required far less time than his rockwool plants.

All he did was provide pH-adjusted reverse osmosis water to his soil plants. No boosters or additives of any kind.

Not only was this a timesaving grow method, it was also inexpensive. He custom mixed some very rich soil. It cost him a little less than $83 to purchase the soil ingredients. Mixing the soil took half an hour.

In contrast, he spent $186.43 on the hydroponics nutrients, rockwool, and pH adjusting fluids he used for the six other plants.

He also spent an average of half an hour per day mixing, adjusting or otherwise administering those nutrients.

His list of nutrients included a 2-part synthetic base nutrients formula, two bloom boosters, two beneficial microbes formulas, a carbohydrate-taste enhancer formula and a flushing formula.

He had approximately 30% of these formulas left over when the plants were finished.

As you are already realizing, growing in rockwool sterile media means you have to add in some natural root zone factors that are already present in rich, seasoned soil.

For example, the grower mixed a rich, organic soil and then treated it with organic compost tea so beneficial microbes would be present. Natural processes and materials in organic, living soil provide compounds that are seldom found in hydroponics nutrients.

These factors are the advantages that a seemingly austere, no-additives-but-water approach bring to the grower: simplicity, a living root zone, lots of rich nutrients easily bioavailable to plants.

What does the soilless hydroponics approach do for the grower? For one thing, it allows the grower to manipulate the plants’ genetic tendencies, metabolism and growth regulators.

This means for example that the grower can jumpstart flowering, create “unnaturally” large and dense flowers, send compounds into the signaling pathways that control aroma, essential oil production and taste, and flush crops to remove toxins and other impurities.

You can’t do that when you are growing with just soil and water. And although many soil growers use fertilizer additives, it is definitely not as easy to control nutrients application or results using nutrients in soil grows as compared to soilless grows.

In the final analysis, what most of us are most concerned about are yield, crop value, and net profits.

In this comparison grow, the rockwool-grown plants produced 19% more net profit than did the soil-grown plants. This despite the fact that the soil-grown plants were allowed to grow for several more days after the rockwool plants were harvested.

As regards the taste, aroma and other aesthetic characteristics of the soil-grown versus the rockwool-grown plants, the grower and others who examined the two sets of harvested material could find no obvious differences.

Now that you’ve seen how the scientific method works for you so you can compare growing technology, methods, materials and other factors in your hydroponics garden, you also realize that in every experiment there are unanticipated variables, and research questions to answer.

The grower in this experiment recognized many other ways to find new truths about his grow room, including:

  • Different ratios of soil mix components to decrease vertical growth, increase dense branching and fuel floral development and maturation
  • Comparing a soil grow with a hydroponics rockwool grow by using the same set of added nutrients in both sets of plants, instead of only giving added nutrients to the rockwool plants as was done in the initial experiment
  • Further testing of hydroponics bloom phase base nutrients and supplements to see if they were the cause of the earlier flowering and earlier maturity, as well as the heavier harvest weight, seen in the rockwool plants.
  • Use of different genetics in comparison grows

As you can see, you can do a lot more with your grow room than just throw in some clones or seedlings, provide a routine feed program, and wait for harvest.

Your hydroponics plants are very responsive to the inputs and conditions you give them. When you engage creativity and alertness in your quest for the highest quality and largest hydroponics yields, you get plenty of useful information that makes your hydroponics growing more fun and profitable.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 20 October 2010 21:47

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