Dr. Nate Storey: We’ve been getting some questions
about nutrient solutions for hydroponic systems. We do a lot of aquaponics here, but we also
have a commercial hydroponics facility and do a lot of hobby hydro as well. Today I’m
going to talk a little bit about the different nutrient solutions, what you should be looking
for, and the best ones to use in your particular system.
There’s basically two types of nutrient solutions out there. Now there’s a lot of different
formulations but there’s two basic types. You can get your fertilizer as a liquid, or
you can get your fertilizer as a powder or a solid. For most hobbyists, you’re buying
mixed fertilizer solutions, so you’re buying a liquid mix. A good example of it would be
something like this stuff. We both sell this Foliage Pro and we use it in all of our home
and hobby systems. This kind of fertilizer solution is really, really nice because it
is very simple, is very easy to put in your system, is very easy to run, and with this
Dyna-Gro stuff, we actually really like it. This is our preferred nutrient mix for smaller
systems. Now if you’re going to scale up though and
you’re going to do a larger system you probably want to look into powdered nutrient solutions.
These are commonly called two-part mixes. What they are is they’re a combination of
calcium, nitrate, and then a main nutrient mix. You’re going to mix those together into
water separately, then you’re going to mix them together, and that’s what you’re going
to be using as your nutrient solution. The pros and cons are that this stuff is very
easy to use, very simple to use. But if you’re shipping it or if you’re using it a lot of
the time you’re paying for a lot more water. Now if you’re a home grower then this is still
very cost-effective and it’s a great solution. It will work really well for you. But if you’re
commercial grower you don’t want to pay for all that extra water to be shipped and you
basically just want a concentrated form for storage, for mixing, just to make your life
a lot easier. For instance our farm down in Colorado uses
a two-part mix that they buy from a place down there called Hydro-Gardens. Hydro-Gardens
sells a bunch of different two-part mixes and different formulations for different crops.
So depending on the crop that you’re going to be growing you want to find a formulation
that is close or specific to that crop. Most home and hobby solutions are not typically
that crop specific. A lot of them have been developed for alternative industry, I’ll put
it that way, so the home and hobby grower, the ones who say grow strawberries or wants
to grow lettuce or something like that oftentimes has difficulty finding a solution that’s tailored
specifically to that particular crop. But for two-part solutions the nice thing is that
all of the formulation has been done for us. We can actually buy a strawberry mix to grow
strawberries. We can grow an herb mix to grow herbs. We can buy a lettuce mix to grow lettuce.
That’s the differences between the two. On a small level of course we recommend a Iiquid
fertilizer. This Dyna-Gro stuff is really great. If you haven’t tried it, definitely,
definitely give it a shot. It’s what we use, again, on all of our spring systems and all
of our small hydro systems. One other thing that you should be thinking
about is if you’re going to be getting into hydroponics there are a few things you need
to understand. One is pH and one is EC. These are your two major measurements that you need
to be taking in any hydroponic system. The exception to this is if you’re using like
one of our springs and you’re using our Dyna-Gro solution you don’t really have to check EC
or pH that much. We give directions on how to do it without checking pH and EC.
But for all other systems you need to be checking your pH and adjusting your pH because the
systems will get more basic or more acidic overtime. Similarly with EC, you need to be
checking your EC and making sure it’s in the right range. What EC is is electrical conductivity.
We’ll do more videos on this down the road because it’s a complicated topic. But you
need to be measuring your EC and making sure you’re within a certain range, to make sure
that your nutrients are within a certain range. EC is basically measuring the soluble salts
or the nutrients in your solution. If you don’t know what those are I’d encourage you
to go do a little more research before you jump into hydro.
But once you understand these principles, once you understand these things, hydroponics
can be a really fun and very, very profitable, and very … It’s just a great way to grow
food. There’s a lot of payback both in education and quality of product, and if you’re doing
it commercially of course and money. So definitely do a little bit more research and keep checking
back. We’re going to do videos on pH and EC. We’ve talked about these in the past for aquaponics
but going forward we’re going to talk about them in a more detail for hydroponic growers
because this is a really growing area of interest out there.
Hopefully this information is useful to you. If it is, make sure you check out some of
our other videos. We go into more detail on other topics in our other YouTube videos.
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