Mixing Hydroponic Nutrients


Mixing Hydroponic Nutrients

When combining nutrients, always be sure to use enough water and carefully proportion nutrient mixtures. Two and three-part nutrients come separated because they react chemically if mixed. If these sensitive substances come into contact with one other while concentrated or in too little water white precipitate begins to form. This can happen in less than a minute—and the longer dilution is delayed, the more difficult dissolution becomes. Plants can only use nutrients that are fully dissolved in the water. The majority of the white substance is calcium sulfate and represents the food that plants can no longer access. Always add the majority of water before combining nutrients to prevent waste. Stir well before each subsequent part is added.

Pay careful attention to the order in which nutrients are mixed. The addition sequence of each nutrient 'part' can affect nutrient stability, particularly in combination with water that has high alkalinity. Adding the nutrient dose to high alkalinity water can decrease the stability of several nutrient types (including calcium, sulfate, iron, copper, manganese, zinc), so rather than trying to pre-adjust the pH of the water, add the part of the nutrient that lowers pH the most first. This is usually the part that contains the phosphate. In two-part nutrients the phosphate-part is often labeled part "B.” In three-part nutrients phosphate is sometimes dispersed across two bottles. Learn which contains the highest concentration of phosphate and add that portion first.

Measure precisely. The proportions indicated on nutrient bottles are specified for a reason. Always stir immediately after adding a nutrient part, additive or top-up water. Doing so eliminates zones of extreme pH, thereby preventing the destabilization of nutrients unstable outside of the optimum pH window (5.0-6.5.)

Always diligently monitor pH levels. This is probably the most important facet of nutrient management. Be cautious when using additives with a high pH. All additives will affect nutrient pH at least slightly, but the best technique to adopt with those that elevate pH significantly (silica or PK additives, for instance) is to add them to water, adjusting the pH down to ~6 prior to mixing. Mix carefully, and your plants will reward you for your vigilance!

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