The fundamental parameters are pH (potential Hydrogen), EC (electrical conductivity) and temperature – in this case, the temperature of your plants’ root zone. Measure by Water Testing.
Potential Hydrogen (pH)
A scale used to determine the acidity or basicity of a solution or substance. In this case, your hydroponic solution or your soil. all plants need to have access to a range of balanced nutrients. So that they can reach their full potential of thriving health. Whether you’re growing hydroponically or in soil or a soil-less media. Your pH will play a pivotal role in making nutrients available to your plants.
When you take a pH measurement, the number you see is based on the number of ions. Specifically Hydrogen ions (H+). The total amount of these Hydrogen ions will determine the acidity or alkalinity. If there are more Hydrogen ions present, then your pH will be acidic (0-7). And if there are fewer H+ relative to hydroxyl groups (OH-), the pH will be alkaline (7-14). A pH value of 7 is considered to be neutral.
Electrical Conductivity (EC)
A measure of the total amount of food available to your plants. As mentioned earlier, all plants need access to the right amount of food, but plants are only able to absorb nutrients when they’re in ionic form.
When nutrients dissolve in water, they split into ions. Each of these ions carry an electrical charge, which creates the potential for electricity to move through that solution. Pure water, on the other hand, is a poor conductor of electricity as it doesn’t contain ions. The more ions a solution contains, the better it can conduct electricity.
EC is measured in milliSiemens per centimetre, but, unlike pH, there is no universal scale for measuring conductivity. In fact, there are at least four common scales in use, so it’s always important to be aware of the scale your conductivity meter – and your nutrient supplier – is using.
These are the four most common conductivity scales:
- EC (Electrical Conductivity) [1 mS/cm2 = 1 EC]
- PPM (Parts per Million) [EC x 700]
- TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) or DS (Dissolved Salts) or MS (Measured Salts); otherwise known as PPM 500 [EC x 500]
- CF (Conductivity Factor) [EC x 10]
Root zone temperature will affect the rate at which your plants are able to absorb nutrients. If you let your root zone temperature remain unmonitored and uncontrolled, this could lead to disastrous effects on your overall crop yield.
Nutrient absorption is largely driven by chemical processes, which take place in your plants’ roots; the efficacy of these processes are determined by the temperatures that those roots are exposed to. Once your root zone temperature moves out of its optimal range, the plant will not be able to deliver optimal levels of nutrients and water.
Ideally, you should aim to have your nutrient solution or irrigation water temperature at around 18 – 22 °C (65 – 72 °F) to ensure optimal nutrient and water uptake.