By definition, hydroponics means water labor from the Greek words for water (hydro) and labor (ponos). By practice, hydroponics means the cultivation of plants in a nutrient-enriched water medium, thus, doing away with the necessity for finding tracts of land or pots of soil to grow plants.
And speaking of nutrients, this is probably the most significant reason for the success of hydroponics. After all, you can determine with almost precise measurements the quantity and quality of nutrients that the plants need to thrive, with almost no other factors coming into affect your inputs of said nutrients. Now contrast that with soil gardening where factors like drainage and soil runoff affects nutrient absorption.
Hydroponics nutrients are dissolved in water, circulated to the plants and monitored for pH levels. Take note that the maintenance of the right pH levels is essential in hydroponics since it determines who well the plants absorb the nutrients in water. Of course, each type of plant requires a different set of optimum pH level.
The nutrients used in hydroponics generally come in ionic and organic forms. Thus, you will see cations of calcium, magnesium and potassium as well as anions like nitrate, sulfate and dihydrogen phosphate as the primary ingredients in hydroponics nutrients. Of course, these ingredients can be mixed and matched to come up with different solutions. Plus, variations on a particular mix cam also be made as the plant reaches various stages in its life, thus, optimizing its nutritional and aesthetic values.
Another important observation when using hydroponics nutrients is that it can change as soon as it makes contact with the plants. This is because the plants themselves can deplete certain substances faster than the others or that the plants alter the pH levels of the water itself due to their alkaline or acidic nature. Thus, it is always important to monitor and measure nutrient levels on a regular basis lest salt concentrations become too high, plants become too undernourished and pH levels too far off the mark. hydroponics wholesaler
There are two basic ways of measuring nutrient levels:
- TDS Meters – First, a Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) meter will provide for a measurement expressed in parts per million (ppm), thus, 1 ppm means one part of the mineral weight to one million parts of the nutrient solution. At present, it is the standard of measurement amongst US growers.
- The second one is the Electrical Conductivity (EC) meter, which provides for a miliSiemens per centimeter reading. Basically, the general rule is that the higher the conductivity, the greater the food available for the plants. However, be careful not to have a very high conductivity as it can lead to a burn-and-kill way of dying for your plants.
Both meters provide for instant readings so it should be easy to control the nutrient levels as necessary. Or better yet, you can also install nutrient controllers that will automatically measure, monitor and adjust the pH and nutrient levels in the water. Of course, these are expensive devices but are well worth the investment especially if you are planning to engage in hydroponics for a long time in a virtually commercial capacity. With the right nutrient solutions, hydroponics offers many opportunities to grow numerous plants ranging from tomatoes to herbs to flowering plants!