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Water is the foundation of life

Drop of water

In many hydroponic books and teachings there is the overlying premise that water, along with added nutrients and minerals in the flowing water source, is the necessary catalyst for effective and efficient growing. Water, for the most part, is often perceived as relatively pure, which I suppose is a reasonable starting point. However, in the real world this is often not the case, and the management of your water will have a major impact on the health of your plants.

9641599_GWith recent news dominated by the devastating water crisis in Flint, Michigan, many are still left to wonder, how could this happen? Flint’s water disaster started back in April 2014, when an unelected state official switched the city’s main water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River to save money. This ill-fated move has corroded Flint’s aging pipelines and exposed the city’s 102,000 residents to the potentially crippling effects of lead poisoning.

This recent catastrophic disaster stresses just how important water quality is to life and to your hydroponic growing system. Just as the Flint situation has caused harm and fear to an entire population, do not let poor water quality affect your entire population of plants. Tap water, well water, stream water, and rain water all have the potential for problems.

Here are some really quick and easy water management tips from Tony Renzulli, Head Grower at Growers Supply CEA Learning Center in Connecticut.

1) Start with a water test – it’s one of the single most important things to do in order to understand the proper amount of nutrients you need to add.

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2) Monitor your water temperature – the warmer the water, the greater risk that the water will be unable to hold the proper amount of oxygen.

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3) Monitor your dissolved oxygen content

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4) Monitor your pH and EC on a daily basis – the maximum amount of nutrients are available to your plants within the range of 5.5 pH -7 pH.

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5) Keep it clean – ideally you should be changing out water and cleaning your system every 3 to 4 weeks, even more in times of high stress.

cleaning water

Last and most importantly, watch your plants, as they will be key indicators that something is wrong with your water. If you notice there are stress problems with your entire crop, this will most likely be indicative of a water- related issue. If however, you see patch areas of stress, then this might be more symptomatic of a biological issue.

Remember – success with hydroponics is dependent on quality water. The water quality will determine the plant’s ability to overcome disease and stress. Nutrients and additives are only as good as the foundation they start with. Grow it better with good water!

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