Since water is the main carrier of nutrients, it’s essential that the water have as few impurities as possible. Poor water quality may cause plants to suffer from stunted growth, nutrient deficiencies, bacterial contamination and more!
You May Be Overlooking One Key Factor In Hydroponics: Water Quality
Leah Soto | Pure Greens LLC
Water quality is frequently overlooked by new hydroponic farmers.
Most people assume their tap water will work perfectly well.
But that isn’t always the case.
The quality of tap water varies by city and town.
And because water is the main ingredient in hydroponic systems (“hydro” does mean “water” after all), you really shouldn’t be leaving your crops to the mercy of your city’s government.
Just because tap water is pure enough for humans to drink, doesn’t mean it’s pure enough for your hydroponic system.
In this article, you’ll learn about how your water quality will influence the success of your hydroponic farm.
With hydroponics, the farmer dissolves plant nutrients in water and then feeds the water to the plant, allowing it to grow without soil.
Since water is the main carrier of nutrients, it’s essential that the water have as few impurities as possible.
Poor water quality may cause plants to suffer from stunted growth, nutrient deficiencies, bacterial contamination and more!
Unfortunately, drinking water is commonly treated with chemicals in order to make it pure enough for human consumption.
These chemicals, like chlorine, make it harder for plants to grow.
Chlorine makes water safer for humans by cleaning out bacteria.
But it reduces a plant’s ability to absorb nitrate and phosphate, nutrients it needs to grow and survive.
Additionally, water’s “hardness” will affect hydroponic systems.
Water hardness refers to the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in water.
If you’ve ever noticed soap scum, film or spots on glasses that are fresh out of the dishwasher, you probably have hard water.
Hard water is damaging to both your plants and the system itself.
Plants have to spend more energy to successfully consume hard water and its nutrients.
Plus, hard water can cause solid calcium carbonate to form, which causes scaling on pipes and pumps.
Even using water from natural sources, like ponds and streams, negatively affects hydroponic success.
This water often contains organisms like bacteria or pathogens that attack plants.
Additionally, traces of herbicides, and other pesticides, are often found in natural bodies of water. Even if that water isn’t near a farm.
Most herbicides can’t distinguish between weeds and wanted plants.
So, if your water has herbicides in it, it could be deadly.
While this all might seem scary, know that you can improve your water’s quality without too much effort.
Before you start, you’ll want to find out what your water’s quality actually is.
If you’re using tap water, your municipality should be able to provide you a report.
Otherwise, you can also send a sample to a lab to find out what’s in it.
Additionally, you should test the electrical conductivity (EC) of your water.
All serious hydroponic farmers, should have an EC meter, so they can monitor the nutrient levels of their water.
If you test the EC of your water before adding any nutrients, you’ll be able to know whether your water contains more minerals in it than you intend.
Ideally, your water should have an EC of 0 ppm before adding any nutrients.
This way your water is as pure as possible, and your plants will only be exposed to the minerals you want them to be.
Filtering your water at home will help you achieve this goal.
Professional hydroponic growers highly recommend reverse osmosis water filters.
Most filters remove impurities by simply distinguishing between liquids and solids.
But reverse osmosis filters are able to remove impurities down to ions.
This means, it’ll even remove dissolved minerals and bacteria!
You may also boil your water or use activated carbon filters to remove chlorine.
If you choose the boiling method, be sure to let the liquid cool to at least room temperature before using it in your hydroponic system.
Once you start giving your plants higher quality water, you’ll start seeing better results.
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AgriTechTomorrow
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