Page 14 - Griffin Gazette Q3 2017
P. 14

3 Hydroponics Growers

things SHOULD BE DOING

                                                    Monitoring the water quality for NFT systems will ensure a healthy crop.

                             By Tami Van Gaal,      provides no buffering. This means that the         even easier to use. Dosatron and Bluelab
                             CEA Division           pH of the water is the pH of the growing           both offer great pen options. Use the pen
                             Leader                 media. Therefore, the incoming water quality       or combo meters to monitor the inbound
                                                    must be understood so that an appropriate          water (especially if water comes from a well)
                             Hydroponic produc-     fertility program can be constructed.              and for troubleshooting crop problems.
                             tion, in which crop                                                       Frequent monitoring of recirculating and
                             nutrition is provided  All hydroponic operations should have a            injection systems is also wise. To minimize
                             solely through solu-   full horticultural laboratory analysis of their    labor, consider investing in an in-line system
                             tion, dominates the    incoming water performed at least once             that will provide continuous reading of the
                             CEA realm. Lettuce     a year. State extension services or private        solution’s pH and EC and will alarm when
                             and leafy greens       labs can do this work in a cost-effective and      values fall out of range. Some injection
produced under cover are nearly always              timely manner. The results should include          systems will have this functionality built in. If
grown in traditional hydroponic float beds          pH, alkalinity, EC, the levels of horticulturally  not, Bluelab Guardian monitors can be set
or NFT channels. Greenhouse strawber-               important macro and micro nutrients, along         up to work with any system and can even
ries are most often grown in coir slabs, a          with chlorine, sodium and key metals. Griffin      be set up to record the data.
great example of a hydroponic system (the           customers can work with our GGSPro
media only provides support; it holds little        technical team to understand these results         See the Digital Bonus material for our
fertility). High-wire veggie crop production        and build an appropriate fertility program         favorite way to buffer low alkalinity waters,
is dominated by slab and bucket                     for their specific crop.                           including RO water, and for a related tip on
systems. Even medicinal crops are getting                                                              stock prep.
into the hydroponic act. While each crop            The lab test will serve as the starting point,
system has specific needs, a few                    but it’s also important to conduct ongoing in-     Protect Against Plant Damage
common considerations apply to all crop             house testing to monitor both the incoming         Nothing stings more than preventable
categories and can make the difference              water and the fertilizer solution. Every           physical crop damage that reduces yield. In
between struggle and success.                       operation should have a handheld meter to          both high-wire veggies and medicinal crops,
                                                    test pH and EC. Many options are available,        the weight of the harvestable product can
Test the Water                                      including simple, effective pen meters and         cause bending and breakage of the stems.
Water quality is a primary concern for              multi-function combo meters. Our favorite          Minimizing this damage is approached in
all growers, but it’s even more critical in         handheld combo meter comes from                    different ways for these crops, with some
hydroponics because the inert media                 Bluelab: It’s reliable, easy to calibrate and      tools serving both crops.

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