Hydroponics is a technique of growing plants in nutrient media without using any soil. Thus while mixing hydroponic nutrients for your crops, it is important to monitor all the physical and chemical properties of the solution. Any change in temperature, humidity level, pH or chemical nature of nutrients will affect the overall growth of plants severely. pH is probably the most overlooked aspect in hydroponic farming, but it is a very important factor.
The term pH refers to the potential hydrogen-hydroxyl ion content of a solution. The hydroponics nutrient solution which has more cations (positive ions) then it is an acidic solution (pH range 1 to 6.9) and if it has more anions (negative ions) then the solution is basic (pH range 7.1 to 14). Neutral solution has pH 7.
Each and every plant has a particular pH level that will produce optimum results. If the pH is not at the required level, the plant will lose its ability to absorb some of the essential elements required for healthy growth. In general most of the plants prefer slightly acidic nutrient mixture (pH 5.5. to 6), however, it is recommended to note down individual pH range of each plant in hydroponic farming. If pH rises above 6.5 for most of nutrient mixtures, the particles will start precipitating and they can stick to the walls of the reservoir and growing chambers. Once the nutrients have precipitated out of solution your plants can no longer absorb them and will suffer deficiency and death if left uncorrected. In some cases, micronutrients also precipitate at more acidic range of pH.
Hydroponic nutrients can be checked and adjusted to get the right range of pH. Most basic way to check pH is the litmus test or contact us for further advanced help on Hydroponics! In this, paper strips are impregnated with a pH sensitive dye which changes color when dipped into the nutrient solution. The paper strip is then compared to a color chart to determine the pH level of the solution being checked. However, if you want to determine the exact pH of solution, it is advised to avoid litmus test as the color differences are too subtle. Many hydroponic growers prefer using digital meters to check pH of hydroponic nutrients. These meters give the exact value of pH.
If your nutrient solution does not have the required pH value, you can always adjust its pH. When pH is in the basic range and you wish to increase it, add phosphoric acid and if you wish to raise pH of the solution, add potassium oxide to it. Keep track of pH change using digital meter. pH will keep fluctuating as plants take up nutrients. Thus you need to monitor and adjust pH of the solution on a regular basis to get healthy hydroponic crop.