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2 Hydroponic nutrient
solutions
Juan C. Cabrera
Field Specialist in Horticulture
Email: jcabrera-garcia@missouri.edu
Phone: (573)-686-8064
1
This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number
2019-38640-29879 through the North Central Region SARE program under project number YENC20-145. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and service
provider. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the
view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Topics
1. Introduction
2. Factors that affect nutrient solutions
• Water quality
• pH
• Electrical conductivity (EC)
• Dissolved oxygen (temperature)
• Crop requirements by growth stage
• Water alkalinity (hardness)
3. Preparing nutrient solutions
4. Monitoring nutrient solutions
5. Organic fertilizers and aquaponics
2
Water + Fertilizers ꞊ Nutrient solution
A great nutritional program begins with good water
quality.
3
The purpose of the nutritional
program is to:
✓Provide all essential
elements.
✓Provide the necessary
quantity for the optimum
plant development.
✓Promote nutrient availability
and absorption.
→ pH management.
4
Comfort zones
5
• Chill weather
• Nice view
• Cozy
• Warm cup of
coffee
PLANTS ALSO HAVE
COMFORT ZONES!
Keeping plants in their comfort
zone
1. Provide adequate amounts of essential nutrients
• Prepare nutrient solution
• Electrical conductivity (EC)
2. Monitor and adjust the pH of the nutrient
solution
• Affects availability and absorption of nutrients
3. Manage the water temperature and dissolved
oxygen
4. Adequate lighting
5. Air flow
6
Air flow and water absorption
7
This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND
This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA
Air flow and water absorption
8
Brendan Morrison and Allayana Darrow. The Planet Magazine.
https://theplanetmagazine.net/a-vertical-horizon-586ff6f67e98
Topics
1. Introduction
2. Factors that affect nutrient solutions
• Water quality
• pH
• Electrical conductivity (EC)
• Dissolved oxygen (temperature)
• Crop requirements by growth stage
• Water alkalinity (hardness)
3. Preparing nutrient solutions
4. Monitoring nutrient solutions
5. Organic fertilizers and aquaponics
9
Factors that affect the nutrient
solution
10
- Water quality
- pH
- Electrical conductivity (EC)
- Nutrient requirements (for each crop and growth stage)
- Water alkalinity
- Dissolved oxygen
Plant’s comfort zone!
Water source quality
11
Parameter Optimum range
pH 5.5-7
EC (dS/m) 0.2-0.8
Alkalinity 40-160 ppm CaCO3 equivalent
Dissolved oxygen >6ppm
Test your water
source!
pH
12
What is pH?
• Represented by a scale that ranges from 1 to 14.
• Is a measure of the concentration of hydrogen ions
(H+).
• At pH 7 the solution is said to be neutral, below 7 it
becomes more acidic and above 7 it becomes basic.
13
8
7 10
9
6
5 12
11
4
3 14
13
2
1
•Solubility (availability) of
nutrients.
•Plant health (specificity):
• Excessive → toxicity
• Insuficiency → deficiency

Why is pH important?
Optimum pH
15
Source: Chris Currey, Iowa State University
Electrical conductivity
(EC)
16
What is Electrical Conductivity
(EC)?
• EC is used to measure a solution’s ability to conduct
electricity.
• A solution with high salt concentration will conduct
more electricity. (Remember salts exist as ions in
water).
More dissolved nutrients=More electricity flow!
=Higher EC
TOO MUCH CAN BE TOXIC TO PLANTS
(EC units: 1 mS/cm = 1000 μS/cm = 1dS/m=1
mmhos/cm = 1000 μmhos/cm)
17
Why is EC important?
• EC used as an indicator of the total salt
concentration in solution. It doesn’t provide
information of which salts.
• Ions that contribute to EC:
• In water: Ca++, Mg++, SO4
-, Na+, Cl, HCO3-
• In fertilizers: NO3
-, NH4
+, PO4, K+, Ca++, Mg++, SO4, Cl-
18
Problem Ions
19
Element Critical level
ppm (mg/L)
Sodium (Na+) < 50
Chlorine (Cl-) < 70
Sulfates (SO4-) < 90
Boron (B) < 0.5
Fluor (F) < 1.0
Calcium (Ca++) < 150
Magnesium (Mg++) < 75
More is not better
21
Yield
Nutrient concentration/EC
Deficiency
Adequate
$$
Toxicity
Effect of pH and EC on hydroponic
lettuce
132
106
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
Fresh
weight
(g/head)
pH
pH
5.4 6.0
119 119
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
Fresh
weight
(g/head)
EC (mS/cm)
EC
1.4 1.8
(Adapted from Hansen et al., 2009; n=112)
24%
Difference
No Difference
22
Dissolved oxygen
23
Dissolved oxygen
• Oxygen (O2): Necessary
respiration for root growth
and nutrient uptake.
• Low O2: inhibits growth,
increases ethylene
production.
• Optimum level for
hydroponics ≥ 6 ppm
24
Temperature affects how much
oxygen is held by water
↑ Temperature=↓ oxygen solubility
The solution temperature can affect plant health
directly and indirectly.
25
Crop nutrient
requirements
26
Specific crop and growth stage
requirements
• Given as part per million (ppm), %, or milligrams
per liter (mg/L).
1 ppm: 1/1,000,000
Liquids: 1 mg/L (1milligram in 1 liter)
Solids: 1 mg/kg (1 milligram in 1 kilogram)
1%: 1/100 = 10,000 ppm
• Recommendations for hydroponic nutrient
solutions given as ppm of elements
27
Requirements by crop and growth
stage (ppm N)
28
Fertilizer recipe: Lettuce
29
16-4-17
(1 bag)
5-11-26+
CaNO3
(2 bag)
9-7-37+ CaNO3 +
MgSO4
(3 bag)
Sonneveld’s
Solution
Nitrogen (ppm) 150 150 150 150
Phosphorus (ppm) 16 39 12 31
Potassium (ppm) 132 162 122 210
Calcium (ppm) 38 139 133 90
Magnesium (ppm) 14 47 42 24
Iron (ppm) 2.1 2.3 2.0 1.0
Manganese(ppm) 0.47 0.38 0.75 0.25
Zinc (ppm) 0.49 0.11 0.75 0.13
Boron (ppm) 0.21 0.38 0.36 0.16
Copper (ppm) 0.13 0.11 0.20 0.02
Molybdenum (ppm) 0.08 0.08 0.04 0.02
29
Vine crop requirements
(ppm) Tomato Cucumber
N 125-225 160-210
NH4 (% Total N) 5-10 7-14
P 40-60 40-60
K 200-350 325-370
Ca 120-180 190-210
S 40-140 120-140
Mg 30-60 60-75
Fe 3-7 1-2
K/N Proportion 1:1 to 1.7:1 1.8:1 to2.1:1
EC 1.5-3.5 1.5-3.0
Courtesy: Richard McAvoy, Univ. of Connecticut
30
Tomato nutrient requirement by growth stage
Courtesy: Richard McAvoy Univ. of Connecticut
Growth stage K:N
Vegetative stage
(before first flower)
1:1
1st to 4th cluster 1.5:1
Ripe fruit 1.7:1
To promote vegetative growth in any stage by increasing the
amount of ammonium nitrogen (NH4).
31
Alkalinity
32
What is alkalinity?
• Alkalinity is a measure of the acid neutralizing
capacity of water.
• Bicarbonates (HCO3
-): Ca, Mg, Na
• Carbonates (CO3
--): Ca, Mg, Na
• Ions: hydroxides, phosphates, silicates, sulfides, and
borates
• Think of it as “dissolved limestone”
• High alkalinity=higher amounts of acid needed to
change the pH.
• Low alkalinity=pH changes constantly and you need
to monitor and adjust pH constantly
33
How to measure alkalinity
• Equivalents of calcium
carbonate (CaCO3 ppm):
• 1meq/L=50mg/L(ppm)=61mg
/L HCO3
-
• It is measured through
titration.
• It can’t be determined
directly with a pH meter
34
Topics
1. Introduction
2. Factors that affect nutrient solutions
• Water quality
• pH
• Electrical conductivity (EC)
• Dissolved oxygen (temperature)
• Crop requirements by growth stage
• Water alkalinity (hardness)
3. Preparing nutrient solutions
4. Monitoring nutrient solutions
5. Organic fertilizers and aquaponics
35
N%
P2O5 %
K2O %
Fertilizer calculations (1 bag)
Example: Prepare 10 liters (L) of nutrient solution with
100 ppm N using the 21-5-20 fertilizer
• *Remember 100 ppm N = 100 mg N in 1 L of solution
• 21-5-20 : %N-%P2O5-%K2O
• Step 1. Calculate how much nitrogen you need for
your nutrient solution tank.
For 10 L we need : 10 L X 100 ppm N= 1,000 mg N
37
ALWAYS USE WATER SOLUBLE FERTILIZERS
Check the handout for the two fertilizer bags calculations
Fertilizer calculations (1 bag)
• Step 2. Calculate how much fertilizer you need to meet
your nitrogen needs (1,000 mg N from step 1)
F: required fertilizer, NR: required nitrogen (step 1),
%N: percent nitrogen in the fertilizer (label)
To convert grams (g) to ounces: gram x 0.035274
To convert liters (L) to gallons US: liters x 0.26417
Refer to the calculation handout for the 2 bag system.
38
ሻ
𝐹 = 𝑁𝑅 ÷ (%𝑁 ÷ 100
ሻ
𝐹 = 1,000 𝑚𝑔 𝑁 ÷ (21 ÷ 100 =4,762 mg or 4.7 g in 10 L of water
39
Online calculators
www.backpocketgrower.org
Elements that react in solution:
• Calcium with phosphorous
• Calcium with sulfates
Calcium nitrate
+
Potassium
sulfate
Nutrient solution
Injector
Precipitated solids
(Calcium sulfate)
Fertilizer Incompatibility: Salt
reaction
40
Option 1: Separate incompatible salts in different
concentrated tanks
Concentrated
calcium nitrate
Concentrated
potassium
sulfate
Dissolved ions will not react
Injector
41
Injector Injector
Option 2: Dissolve fertilizers
separately then mix them
42
Calcium
nitrate
Potassium
sulfate
Lettuce
• For every 10 gallons add
• 1.34 oz (40 grams) of 5-12-26 fertilizer
• 0.87 oz (25 grams) of 15.5-0-0 fertilizer
• Dilute the fertilizers separately each
in 5 gallons then combine the
dissolved fertilizers
• Measure pH and EC
• Adjust the pH between 5.5 to 6.0
43
Element
Required
ppm
Provided
by
fertilizers
Total N 150 150.75
P 31 110
K 210 260
Ca 90 123.5
Mg 24 31
S 0 40
B 0.16 0.5
Cu 0.02 0.15
Fe 1 3
Mn 0.25 0.5
Mo 0.02 0.1
Zn 0.13 0.15
Tomato Stage 1
• Use until you see the first cluster of
flowers (approx. 6 weeks)
• For every 10 gallons add:
• 0.8 oz (23 grams) of 5-12-26
• 1 oz (29 grams) of 15.5-0-0
• 0.4 oz (11 grams) of Epsom salts
• Dilute fertilizers separately
• Measure pH and EC
• Adjust pH
44
Element
Required
ppm
Provided by
fertilizers
Total N 145 150
P 47 72
K 145 156
Ca 144 147
Mg 60 65
S 10 90
B 0.4 0.30
Cu 0.05 0.09
Fe 2 2
Mn 0.55 0.30
Mo 0.05 0.11
Zn 0.33 0.09
K:N ratio 1.0 1.04
Tomato Stage 2
45
• Use until you see the fourth cluster
of flowers (weeks 6 to 12)
• For every 10 gallons add:
• 1.5 oz (43 grams) of 5-12-26
• 1.2 oz (34 grams) of 15.5-0-0
• Dilute fertilizers separately
• Measure pH and EC
• Adjust pH
Element
Required
ppm
Provided by
fertilizers
Total N 195 195
P 47 137
K 300 300
Ca 160 168
Mg 60 69
S 10 98
B 0.4 0.58
Cu 0.05 0.17
Fe 2 3. 5
Mn 0.55 0.58
Mo 0.05 0.22
Zn 0.33 0.17
K:N ratio 1.54 1.54
Tomato Stage 3
46
• Use when you see the fruits ripening
(plants older than 12 weeks)
• For every 10 gallons add:
• 2 oz (57 grams) of 5-12-26
• 1.4 oz (39 grams) of 15.5-0-0
• Dilute fertilizers separately
• Measure pH and EC
• Adjust pH
Element Required ppm
Provided by
fertilizers
Total N 205 240
P 47 186
K 350 403
Ca 200 200
Mg 60 93
S 10 132
B 0.4 0.8
Cu 0.05 0.2
Fe 2 4.7
Mn 0.55 0.8
Mo 0.05 0.3
Zn 0.33 0.2
K:N ratio 1.7 1.68
Nutrient solution management
1. Test your water source.
2. Research nutrient requirements for your crops
(nutrient levels and pH).
3. Calculate how much fertilizer you need for the
nutrient solutions.
4. Prepare nutrient solutions.
5. Measure pH and EC.
6. Adjust the pH as needed.
7. Constantly measure and adjust the pH and EC of the
nutrient solution.
47
Topics
1. Introduction
2. Factors that affect nutrient solutions
• Water quality
• pH
• Electrical conductivity (EC)
• Dissolved oxygen (temperature)
• Crop requirements by growth stage
• Water alkalinity (hardness)
3. Preparing nutrient solutions
4. Monitoring nutrient solutions
5. Organic fertilizers and aquaponics
48
Why monitor and adjust nutrient
solutions?
• The pH and EC of the nutrient solution changes
after mixing the fertilizers. We need to know how it
changes so we can adjust it to the plants’ comfort
zone.
• Over time, plants use water and nutrients which
generate changes to pH and EC of the nutrient
solution.
• We need to constantly monitor the nutrient
solution to make necessary adjustments.
• KEEP THE PLANTS IN THEIR COMFORT ZONE SO
THEY CAN GROW!
49
50
The pH of the nutrient solution may fluctuate every
day and it is necessary to control it.
Increasing the pH
• Use:
• Potassium bicarbonate
• Fertilizers with high nitrate concentration (0ver 25% of
the total nitrogen is from nitrates)
• Potassium hydroxide
• Avoid using calcium carbonate (limestone) because
it has low solubility.
51
Chemical Notes
Mineral and
organic acids
Cost $$: Cítrico > Fosfórico > Nítrico > Sulfúrico
Safety: Cítrico > Fosfórico ≈ Sulfúrico > Nítrico
Consider that some will provide additional nutrients.
Iron sulfate (for
potted plants)
Can cause iron toxicity in plants, especially if the
water contacts the leaves.
It will precipitate and cause clogging.
Elemental sulfur
(for potted
plants)
Slow reaction and its solubility depends on the
source of the product.
Lowering the pH
52
How much acid you need?
Depends on the alkalinity
of the nutrient solution.
How much acid you need?
• Online calculator:
e-Gro Alkalinity Calculator
http://e-gro.org/alkcalc/
53
Automatic injectors
54
Monitoring pH and EC
55
Monitoring pH and EC
▪ Cheap meters make inaccurate measurements that can result
in costly mistakes
▪ A meter is as precise as the last time it was calibrated
56
Choosing meters
57
This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND
Fotos: Hannah instruments
• Avoid test strips for pH (dyes in
fertilizers).
• The ideal meter:
• Water and shock proof
• Replaceable probes
• Easy to calibrate
• Available calibrating and storage
solutions
• Portable
• pH-EC Combo
• $100-$300
Proper care for meters
• Calibrate once a week
• Calibrate in two points: pH 4 and 7
• Do not touch, scratch or rub paper towel on the pH
probe glass bulb
• Store the pH probe in storage solution or the pH 4
calibrating solution (not water)
• Rinse with distilled or deionized water before every
use, after calibration, in between samples, and
before storing
• Probe lifetime pH 1-2 years and EC 2-5 years
• Replace when you can’t calibrate
58
Foto: Hannah instruments
Needed meters
59
Parameter NFT & Dutch Bucket DWC
pH
Electric conductivity (EC)
Temperature
Dissolved oxygen (DO)
Combo
meters
Topics
1. Introduction
2. Factors that affect nutrient solutions
• Water quality
• pH
• Electrical conductivity (EC)
• Dissolved oxygen (temperature)
• Crop requirements by growth stage
• Water alkalinity (hardness)
3. Preparing nutrient solutions
4. Monitoring nutrient solutions
5. Organic fertilizers and aquaponics
60
Organic Fertilizers
61
62
Coupled aquaponic systems
63
This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA-NC
This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY
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Optional Advanced
nutrition and Aquaponic
Slides
Advanced concepts
65
Factors that affect the nutrient
solution
66
- Water quality
- pH
- Electrical conductivity (EC)
- Nutrient requirements (for each crop and growth stage)
- Water alkalinity
- Dissolved oxygen
Plant’s comfort zone!
Water source quality
67
Parameter Optimum range
pH 5.5-7
EC (dS/m) 0.2-0.8
Alkalinity 40-160 ppm CaCO3 equivalent
Dissolved oxygen >6ppm
Test your water
source!
pH
68
Water
69
H+ OH-
Neutral pH =
H+ OH-
Acidic pH
H+ OH-
Basic pH
Water molecule
What is pH?
• Represented by a scale that ranges from 1 to 14.
• Is a measure of the concentration of hydrogen ions
(H+).
• At pH 7 the solution is said to be neutral, below 7 it
becomes more acidic and above 7 it becomes basic.
70
8
7 10
9
6
5 12
11
4
3 14
13
2
1
•Solubility (availability) of
nutrients.
•Plant health (specificity):
• Excessive → toxicity
• Insuficiency → deficiency

Why is pH important?
Optimum pH
72
Source: Chris Currey, Iowa State University
Electrical conductivity
(EC)
73
Fertilizers are salts!
• Ionic bond: elements with positive charge attach to
elements with negative charge= SALTS!
• Water molecules break the ionic bond so salts
dissolve in to their charged state or ions (+: cations
and -: anions).
• This is important to know because the roots of
plants take nutrients as ions!
• The water source may contain elements already in
solution.
74
𝐾+1 + 𝐶𝑙−1 → 𝐾𝐶𝑙
K+1
Cl-1
Cl-1
K+1
KCl
What is Electrical Conductivity
(EC)?
• EC is used to measure a solution’s ability to conduct
electricity.
• A solution with high salt concentration will conduct
more electricity. (Remember salts exist as ions in
water).
More dissolved nutrients=More electricity flow!
(1 mS/cm = 1000 μS/cm = 1dS/m=1 mmhos/cm =
1000 μmhos/cm)
75
Why is EC important?
• EC used as an indicator of the total salt
concentration in solution. It doesn’t provide
information of which salts.
• Ions that contribute to EC:
• In water: Ca++, Mg++, SO4
-, Na+, Cl, HCO3-
• In fertilizers: NO3
-, NH4
+, PO4, K+, Ca++, Mg++, SO4, Cl-
76
More is not better
78
Yield
Nutrient concentration/EC
Deficiency
Adequate
$$
Toxicity
Basil’s response to different EC levels: More is
not better
Source: Chris Currey, Iowa State Univ.
79
Problem Ions
80
Element Critical level
ppm (mg/L)
Sodium (Na+) < 50
Chlorine (Cl-) < 70
Sulfates (SO4-) < 90
Boron (B) < 0.5
Fluor (F) < 1.0
Calcium (Ca++) < 150
Magnesium (Mg++) < 75
Effect of pH and EC on hydroponic
lettuce
132
106
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
Fresh
weight
(g/head)
pH
pH
5.4 6.0
119 119
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
Fresh
weight
(g/head)
EC (mS/cm)
EC
1.4 1.8
(Adapted from Hansen et al., 2009; n=112)
24%
Difference
No Difference
81
Dissolved oxygen
82
Dissolved oxygen
• Oxygen (O2): Necessary
respiration for root growth
and nutrient uptake.
• Low O2: inhibits growth,
increases ethylene
production.
• Optimum level for
hydroponics ≥ 6 ppm
83
Temperature affects how much
oxygen is held by water
↑ Temperature=↓ oxygen solubility
The solution temperature can affect plant health
directly and indirectly.
84
Crop nutrient
requirements
85
Specific crop and growth stage
requirements
• Given as part per million (ppm), %, or milligrams
per liter (mg/L).
1 ppm: 1/1,000,000
Liquids: 1 mg/L (milligrams/liter)
Solids: 1 mg/kg (milligrams/kilograms)
1%: 1/100 = 10,000 ppm
• Recommendations for leafy greens given as ppm of
nitrogen
86
Requirements by crop and growth
stage (ppm N)
87
Fertilizer recipe: Lettuce
88
16-4-17
(1 bag)
5-11-26+
CaNO3
(2 bag)
9-7-37+ CaNO3 +
MgSO4
(3 bag)
Sonneveld’s
Solution
Nitrogen (ppm) 150 150 150 150
Phosphorus (ppm) 16 39 12 31
Potassium (ppm) 132 162 122 210
Calcium (ppm) 38 139 133 90
Magnesium (ppm) 14 47 42 24
Iron (ppm) 2.1 2.3 2.0 1.0
Manganese(ppm) 0.47 0.38 0.75 0.25
Zinc (ppm) 0.49 0.11 0.75 0.13
Boron (ppm) 0.21 0.38 0.36 0.16
Copper (ppm) 0.13 0.11 0.20 0.02
Molybdenum (ppm) 0.08 0.08 0.04 0.02
88
Vine crop requirements
(ppm) Tomato Cucumber
N 125-225 160-210
NH4 (% Total N) 5-10 7-14
P 40-60 40-60
K 200-350 325-370
Ca 120-180 190-210
S 40-140 120-140
Mg 30-60 60-75
Fe 3-7 1-2
K/N Proportion 1:1 to 1.7:1 1.8:1 to2.1:1
EC 1.5-3.5 1.5-3.0
Courtesy: Richard McAvoy, Univ. of Connecticut
89
Tomato nutrient requirement by growth stage
Courtesy: Richard McAvoy Univ. of Connecticut
Growth stage K:N
Vegetative stage
(before first flower)
1:1
1st to 4th cluster 1.5:1
Ripe fruit 1.7:1
To promote vegetative growth in any stage by increasing the
amount of ammonium nitrogen (NH4).
90
Alkalinity
91
What is alkalinity?
• Alkalinity is a measure of the acid neutralizing
capacity of water.
• Bicarbonates (HCO3
-): Ca, Mg, Na
• Carbonates (CO3
--): Ca, Mg, Na
• Ions: hydroxides, phosphates, silicates, sulfides, and
borates
• Think of it as “dissolved limestone”
• The higher the alkalinity, higher amounts of acid
needed to change the pH.
92
How to measure alkalinity
• Equivalents of calcium
carbonate (CaCO3 ppm):
• 1meq/L=50mg/L(ppm)=61mg
/L HCO3
-
• It is measured through
titration.
• It can’t be determined
directly with a pH meter
93
Alkalinity and pH management
• Water with high alkalinity needs a
lot of acid to change the pH
• Low alkalinity: pH will fluctuate
constantly forcing you to constantly
monitor and adjust the pH
$$$
94
Topics
1. Introduction
2. Factors that affect nutrient solutions
• Water quality
• pH
• Electrical conductivity (EC)
• Dissolved oxygen (temperature)
• Crop requirements by growth stage
• Water alkalinity (hardness)
3. Preparing nutrient solutions
4. Monitoring nutrient solutions
5. Organic fertilizers and aquaponics
95
Fertilizer calculations (1 bag)
Example: Prepare 10 liters (L) of nutrient solution with
100 ppm N using the 21-5-20 fertilizer
• *Remember 100 ppm N = 100 mg N in 1 L of solution
• 21-5-20 : %N-%P2O5-%K2O
• Step 1. Calculate how much nitrogen you need for
your nutrient solution tank.
For 10 L we need : 10 L X 100 ppm N= 1,000 mg N
96
Fertilizer calculations (1 bag)
• Step 2. Calculate how much fertilizer you need to meet
your nitrogen needs (1,000 mg N from step 1)
F: required fertilizer, NR: required nitrogen (step 1),
%N: percent nitrogen in the fertilizer (label)
To convert grams (g) to ounces: gram x 0.035274
To convert liters (L) to gallons US: liters x 0.26417
Refer to the calculation handout for the 2 bag system.
97
ሻ
𝐹 = 𝑁𝑅 ÷ (%𝑁 ÷ 100
ሻ
𝐹 = 1,000 𝑚𝑔 𝑁 ÷ (21 ÷ 100 =4,762 mg or 4.7 g in 10 L of water
98
Online calculators
www.backpocketgrower.org
Elements that react in solution:
• Calcium with phosphorous
• Calcium with sulfates
Calcium nitrate
+
Potassium
sulfate
Nutrient solution
Injector
Precipitated solids
(Calcium sulfate)
Fertilizer Incompatibility: Salt
reaction
99
Option 1: Separate incompatible salts in different
concentrated tanks
Concentrated
calcium nitrate
Concentrated
potassium
sulfate
Dissolved ions will not react
Injector
100
Injector Injector
Option 2: Dissolve fertilizers
separately then mix them
101
Calcium
nitrate
Potassium
sulfate
Lettuce
• For every 10 gallons add
• 1.34 oz (40 grams) of 5-12-26 fertilizer
• 0.87 oz (25 grams) of 15.5-0-0 fertilizer
• Dilute the fertilizers separately each
in 5 gallons then combine the
dissolved fertilizers
• Measure pH and EC
• Adjust the pH between 5.5 to 6.0
102
Element
Required
ppm
Provided
by
fertilizers
Total N 150 150.75
P 31 110
K 210 260
Ca 90 123.5
Mg 24 31
S 0 40
B 0.16 0.5
Cu 0.02 0.15
Fe 1 3
Mn 0.25 0.5
Mo 0.02 0.1
Zn 0.13 0.15
Tomato Stage 1
• Use until you see the first cluster of
flowers (approx. 6 weeks)
• For every 10 gallons add:
• 0.8 oz (23 grams) of 5-12-26
• 1 oz (29 grams) of 15.5-0-0
• 0.4 oz (11 grams) of Epsom salts
• Dilute fertilizers separately
• Measure pH and EC
• Adjust pH
103
Element
Required
ppm
Provided by
fertilizers
Total N 145 150
P 47 72
K 145 156
Ca 144 147
Mg 60 65
S 10 90
B 0.4 0.30
Cu 0.05 0.09
Fe 2 2
Mn 0.55 0.30
Mo 0.05 0.11
Zn 0.33 0.09
K:N ratio 1.0 1.04
Tomato Stage 2
104
• Use until you see the fourth cluster
of flowers (weeks 6 to 12)
• For every 10 gallons add:
• 1.5 oz (43 grams) of 5-12-26
• 1.2 oz (34 grams) of 15.5-0-0
• Dilute fertilizers separately
• Measure pH and EC
• Adjust pH
Element
Required
ppm
Provided by
fertilizers
Total N 195 195
P 47 137
K 300 300
Ca 160 168
Mg 60 69
S 10 98
B 0.4 0.58
Cu 0.05 0.17
Fe 2 3. 5
Mn 0.55 0.58
Mo 0.05 0.22
Zn 0.33 0.17
K:N ratio 1.54 1.54
Tomato Stage 3
105
• Use when you see the fruits ripening
(plants older than 12 weeks)
• For every 10 gallons add:
• 2 oz (57 grams) of 5-12-26
• 1.4 oz (39 grams) of 15.5-0-0
• Dilute fertilizers separately
• Measure pH and EC
• Adjust pH
Element Required ppm
Provided by
fertilizers
Total N 205 240
P 47 186
K 350 403
Ca 200 200
Mg 60 93
S 10 132
B 0.4 0.8
Cu 0.05 0.2
Fe 2 4.7
Mn 0.55 0.8
Mo 0.05 0.3
Zn 0.33 0.2
K:N ratio 1.7 1.68
106
The pH of the nutrient solution may fluctuate every
day and it is necessary to control it.
Increasing the pH
• Use:
• Potassium bicarbonate
• Fertilizers with high nitrate concentration (0ver 25% of
the total nitrogen is from nitrates)
• Potassium hydroxide
• Avoid using calcium carbonate because it has low
solubility.
107
Chemical Notes
Mineral and
organic acids
Cost $$: Cítrico > Fosfórico > Nítrico > Sulfúrico
Safety: Cítrico > Fosfórico ≈ Sulfúrico > Nítrico
Consider that some will provide additional nutrients.
Iron sulfate (for
potted plants)
Can cause iron toxicity in plants, especially if the
water contacts the leaves.
It will precipitate and cause clogging.
Elemental sulfur
(for potted
plants)
Slow reaction and its solubility depends on the
source of the product.
Lowering the pH
108
How much acid you need?
Depends on the alkalinity
of the nutrient solution.
Why is alkalinity important?
109
Volume (in ml) of 0.0164 N H2SO4 Added
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Water
pH
4.0
4.5
5.0
5.5
6.0
6.5
7.0
7.5
High Alkalinity Water
Low Alkalinity Water
Cortesía: Paul Fisher, UF
How much acid you need?
• Online calculator:
e-Gro Alkalinity Calculator
http://e-gro.org/alkcalc/
110
Water quality for aquaponics
• In aquaponic systems, you make compromises to keep
the fish, biofilter, and plants in their comfort zones
111
Parameter Catfish Biofilter Lettuce Tomato
General
system
Temperature (°F) 75 - 86 > 68 75 77 75 - 86
Dissolved oxygen (ppm) 5 - 15 > 4 > 6 > 6 6
pH 6 - 8 7 - 9 5.5 - 6.5 5.5 - 6.5 6.8 - 7
Ammonia (NH3, ppm) < 1 - < 1 < 1 < 1
Nitrite (NO2-) 0 - 1 - 0 - 1 0 - 1 0 - 1
Nitrate (NO3-, ppm) < 150 - 125 - 150 125 - 225 150
Solid separators
• Non-decomposed material clogs the system and its
degradation lowers the dissolved oxygen.
• Bacteria in the biofilter, fishes, and plants NEED
oxygen
112
Centrifuge
Radial flow
Water
in
Water
out
Solid
waste out
Clarifier
GRAVITY
Granular media
Screen filter
FILTRATION
Biofilter
• Bacteria in the biofilm transform toxic forms of
nitrogen to nitrate (safe for fish and plants)
113
Granular media Moving bed biofilter
Fixed bed biofilter
This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA
Trickling filter
Nitrogen cycle in aquaponics
Nitrogen management determines the success of an
aquaponic system!
114
Mineralization
Fish waste and
feed
NH4
+
NH3
Nitrosomonas NO2
- Nitrobacter NO3
-
TOXIC
Fish tank Biofilter
Hydroponic
crop
TAN
Total ammoniacal nitrogen (TAN)
• Includes toxic (NH3) and nontoxic (NH4+) forms.
• The nontoxic form prevails with pH under 7 and
temperatures under 87°F/31°C
115
Source: FAO Recirculated
Aquaculture Guide 2015
Priming the biofilters
116
Peter Chou, Project Feed 1010
• Fish cycling
• Cycling without fish: use ammonia
• Use meters to know when the biofilter is ready
• Amonia y nitrites <1 ppm
• Nitrate <150 ppm
Fish:plant Ratio
• Ratio depends on the amount of fish feed used
• Temperature: fish metabolism
• Fish species and growth stage
• For DWC systems: 60 – 100 g/m2/día
• 100 g of feed per day = 1 – 1.6 m2
• 100 m2 of production = 6,000 – 10,000 g/day
• NFT uses 25% of the requirements for DWC
• On average fishes will consume 1.5 – 2% of their
weight per day
• Ideally measure nitrogen forms and ajust the
fish:plant rates
117
Common Problems
118
Dispersion of plant Pathogens
Stanghellini et al., 2000
119
Common Pathogens in
Hydroponics
• Pythium spp.
• Phytophthora spp.
• Thielaviopsis basicola
• Xanthomonas
• Sclerotinia
• Botrytis
• Powdery and downy
mildew
120
Temperature and Diseases
20-30% of losses occur in the summer
121
Temperature
▪Lettuce: root 75°F; air→Day
68°F-75°F→Night 60°F-65°F
▪ Tomatoes 77°F
▪ Spinach: root 72°F; air 61°F -
91°F
(Thompson et al., 1998; Tindall et al., 1990; Lee and Takakura, 1995, )
122
Accumulation of algae
123
Algae in indoor production
124
125
Algaes
Factors that affect
the growth of
algae:
• Nutrients
• Water
• Light
126
Disinfection: Reduce inoculum
127
128
Disinfection: Reduce inoculum
Biocontrol in organic production still not compatible with
hydroponic production
Cora McGehee,
PhD Student
UConn
129
Production organic: Obstruction
130
Holly Records
Oregon
Texas
Pike
Dent
Linn
Ray
Polk
Barry
Iron
Cass
Howell
Saline
Macon
Pettis
Henry
Holt
Ozark
Franklin
Butler
Vernon
Adair
Miller
Shannon
Carroll
Wayne
Benton
Knox
Wright
Clark
Taney
Ralls
Johnson
Nodaway
Ripley
Phelps
Laclede
Douglas
St Clair
Callaway
Clay
Osage
Chariton
Jasper
Lewis
Dade
Audrain
Lincoln
Monroe
Harrison
Perry
Barton
Greene
Stoddard
Cole
Sullivan
Dallas
Reynolds
Stone
Camden
Crawford
Scott
Morgan
Cedar
Newton Carter
Maries
Cooper
Platte
Gentry
Jackson
Shelby
Pulaski
Daviess
Jefferson
Putnam
Lafayette
Dunklin
Bollinger
Webster
Mercer
Marion
Atchison
Washington
Clinton
Howard
Grundy
Christian
Lawrence
Warren
Andrew
Madison
St Charles
De Kalb
Livingston
Hickory
McDonald
Scotland
Caldwell
Randolph
Worth
Moniteau
Buchanan
Schuyler
Cape
Girardeau
St Louis
County
Boone
Bates
0 200
100 Miles
St.
Francois
Donna Aufdenberg
Open
Robert Balek
Patrick Byers
Catherine Bylinowski
(Educator)
vacant
Vacant
vancant
Kate Kammler
Debi Kelly
Kelly McGowan
Kathi Mecham
Open
Jennifer Schutter
Ramón Arancibia
Justin Keay
Tamra Reall
Justin Keay – Justin.keay@missouri.edu
Debi Kelly – kellyd@missouri.edu
Kate Kammler – kammlerk@missouri.edu
Donna Aufdenberg- aufdenbergd@missouri.edu
Patrick Byers – byerspl@Missouri.edu
Kelly McGowan – mcgowank@Missouri.edu
Robert Balek – balekr@Missouri.edu
Ramon Arancibia – ramon.arancibia@Missouri.edu
Tamra Reall – reallt@Missouri.edu
Kathi Mecham – mechamk@Missouri.edu
Jennifer Schutter – schutterjl@Missouri.edu
Specialists in horticulture
College of Agriculture,
Food & Natural Resources
University of Missouri
vacant

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Hydroponic nutrient solution for vegetables

  • 1. 2 Hydroponic nutrient solutions Juan C. Cabrera Field Specialist in Horticulture Email: jcabrera-garcia@missouri.edu Phone: (573)-686-8064 1 This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2019-38640-29879 through the North Central Region SARE program under project number YENC20-145. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • 2. Topics 1. Introduction 2. Factors that affect nutrient solutions • Water quality • pH • Electrical conductivity (EC) • Dissolved oxygen (temperature) • Crop requirements by growth stage • Water alkalinity (hardness) 3. Preparing nutrient solutions 4. Monitoring nutrient solutions 5. Organic fertilizers and aquaponics 2
  • 3. Water + Fertilizers ꞊ Nutrient solution A great nutritional program begins with good water quality. 3
  • 4. The purpose of the nutritional program is to: ✓Provide all essential elements. ✓Provide the necessary quantity for the optimum plant development. ✓Promote nutrient availability and absorption. → pH management. 4
  • 5. Comfort zones 5 • Chill weather • Nice view • Cozy • Warm cup of coffee PLANTS ALSO HAVE COMFORT ZONES!
  • 6. Keeping plants in their comfort zone 1. Provide adequate amounts of essential nutrients • Prepare nutrient solution • Electrical conductivity (EC) 2. Monitor and adjust the pH of the nutrient solution • Affects availability and absorption of nutrients 3. Manage the water temperature and dissolved oxygen 4. Adequate lighting 5. Air flow 6
  • 7. Air flow and water absorption 7 This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA
  • 8. Air flow and water absorption 8 Brendan Morrison and Allayana Darrow. The Planet Magazine. https://theplanetmagazine.net/a-vertical-horizon-586ff6f67e98
  • 9. Topics 1. Introduction 2. Factors that affect nutrient solutions • Water quality • pH • Electrical conductivity (EC) • Dissolved oxygen (temperature) • Crop requirements by growth stage • Water alkalinity (hardness) 3. Preparing nutrient solutions 4. Monitoring nutrient solutions 5. Organic fertilizers and aquaponics 9
  • 10. Factors that affect the nutrient solution 10 - Water quality - pH - Electrical conductivity (EC) - Nutrient requirements (for each crop and growth stage) - Water alkalinity - Dissolved oxygen Plant’s comfort zone!
  • 11. Water source quality 11 Parameter Optimum range pH 5.5-7 EC (dS/m) 0.2-0.8 Alkalinity 40-160 ppm CaCO3 equivalent Dissolved oxygen >6ppm Test your water source!
  • 12. pH 12
  • 13. What is pH? • Represented by a scale that ranges from 1 to 14. • Is a measure of the concentration of hydrogen ions (H+). • At pH 7 the solution is said to be neutral, below 7 it becomes more acidic and above 7 it becomes basic. 13 8 7 10 9 6 5 12 11 4 3 14 13 2 1
  • 14. •Solubility (availability) of nutrients. •Plant health (specificity): • Excessive → toxicity • Insuficiency → deficiency  Why is pH important?
  • 15. Optimum pH 15 Source: Chris Currey, Iowa State University
  • 17. What is Electrical Conductivity (EC)? • EC is used to measure a solution’s ability to conduct electricity. • A solution with high salt concentration will conduct more electricity. (Remember salts exist as ions in water). More dissolved nutrients=More electricity flow! =Higher EC TOO MUCH CAN BE TOXIC TO PLANTS (EC units: 1 mS/cm = 1000 μS/cm = 1dS/m=1 mmhos/cm = 1000 μmhos/cm) 17
  • 18. Why is EC important? • EC used as an indicator of the total salt concentration in solution. It doesn’t provide information of which salts. • Ions that contribute to EC: • In water: Ca++, Mg++, SO4 -, Na+, Cl, HCO3- • In fertilizers: NO3 -, NH4 +, PO4, K+, Ca++, Mg++, SO4, Cl- 18
  • 19. Problem Ions 19 Element Critical level ppm (mg/L) Sodium (Na+) < 50 Chlorine (Cl-) < 70 Sulfates (SO4-) < 90 Boron (B) < 0.5 Fluor (F) < 1.0 Calcium (Ca++) < 150 Magnesium (Mg++) < 75
  • 20.
  • 21. More is not better 21 Yield Nutrient concentration/EC Deficiency Adequate $$ Toxicity
  • 22. Effect of pH and EC on hydroponic lettuce 132 106 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 Fresh weight (g/head) pH pH 5.4 6.0 119 119 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 Fresh weight (g/head) EC (mS/cm) EC 1.4 1.8 (Adapted from Hansen et al., 2009; n=112) 24% Difference No Difference 22
  • 24. Dissolved oxygen • Oxygen (O2): Necessary respiration for root growth and nutrient uptake. • Low O2: inhibits growth, increases ethylene production. • Optimum level for hydroponics ≥ 6 ppm 24
  • 25. Temperature affects how much oxygen is held by water ↑ Temperature=↓ oxygen solubility The solution temperature can affect plant health directly and indirectly. 25
  • 27. Specific crop and growth stage requirements • Given as part per million (ppm), %, or milligrams per liter (mg/L). 1 ppm: 1/1,000,000 Liquids: 1 mg/L (1milligram in 1 liter) Solids: 1 mg/kg (1 milligram in 1 kilogram) 1%: 1/100 = 10,000 ppm • Recommendations for hydroponic nutrient solutions given as ppm of elements 27
  • 28. Requirements by crop and growth stage (ppm N) 28
  • 29. Fertilizer recipe: Lettuce 29 16-4-17 (1 bag) 5-11-26+ CaNO3 (2 bag) 9-7-37+ CaNO3 + MgSO4 (3 bag) Sonneveld’s Solution Nitrogen (ppm) 150 150 150 150 Phosphorus (ppm) 16 39 12 31 Potassium (ppm) 132 162 122 210 Calcium (ppm) 38 139 133 90 Magnesium (ppm) 14 47 42 24 Iron (ppm) 2.1 2.3 2.0 1.0 Manganese(ppm) 0.47 0.38 0.75 0.25 Zinc (ppm) 0.49 0.11 0.75 0.13 Boron (ppm) 0.21 0.38 0.36 0.16 Copper (ppm) 0.13 0.11 0.20 0.02 Molybdenum (ppm) 0.08 0.08 0.04 0.02 29
  • 30. Vine crop requirements (ppm) Tomato Cucumber N 125-225 160-210 NH4 (% Total N) 5-10 7-14 P 40-60 40-60 K 200-350 325-370 Ca 120-180 190-210 S 40-140 120-140 Mg 30-60 60-75 Fe 3-7 1-2 K/N Proportion 1:1 to 1.7:1 1.8:1 to2.1:1 EC 1.5-3.5 1.5-3.0 Courtesy: Richard McAvoy, Univ. of Connecticut 30
  • 31. Tomato nutrient requirement by growth stage Courtesy: Richard McAvoy Univ. of Connecticut Growth stage K:N Vegetative stage (before first flower) 1:1 1st to 4th cluster 1.5:1 Ripe fruit 1.7:1 To promote vegetative growth in any stage by increasing the amount of ammonium nitrogen (NH4). 31
  • 33. What is alkalinity? • Alkalinity is a measure of the acid neutralizing capacity of water. • Bicarbonates (HCO3 -): Ca, Mg, Na • Carbonates (CO3 --): Ca, Mg, Na • Ions: hydroxides, phosphates, silicates, sulfides, and borates • Think of it as “dissolved limestone” • High alkalinity=higher amounts of acid needed to change the pH. • Low alkalinity=pH changes constantly and you need to monitor and adjust pH constantly 33
  • 34. How to measure alkalinity • Equivalents of calcium carbonate (CaCO3 ppm): • 1meq/L=50mg/L(ppm)=61mg /L HCO3 - • It is measured through titration. • It can’t be determined directly with a pH meter 34
  • 35. Topics 1. Introduction 2. Factors that affect nutrient solutions • Water quality • pH • Electrical conductivity (EC) • Dissolved oxygen (temperature) • Crop requirements by growth stage • Water alkalinity (hardness) 3. Preparing nutrient solutions 4. Monitoring nutrient solutions 5. Organic fertilizers and aquaponics 35
  • 37. Fertilizer calculations (1 bag) Example: Prepare 10 liters (L) of nutrient solution with 100 ppm N using the 21-5-20 fertilizer • *Remember 100 ppm N = 100 mg N in 1 L of solution • 21-5-20 : %N-%P2O5-%K2O • Step 1. Calculate how much nitrogen you need for your nutrient solution tank. For 10 L we need : 10 L X 100 ppm N= 1,000 mg N 37 ALWAYS USE WATER SOLUBLE FERTILIZERS Check the handout for the two fertilizer bags calculations
  • 38. Fertilizer calculations (1 bag) • Step 2. Calculate how much fertilizer you need to meet your nitrogen needs (1,000 mg N from step 1) F: required fertilizer, NR: required nitrogen (step 1), %N: percent nitrogen in the fertilizer (label) To convert grams (g) to ounces: gram x 0.035274 To convert liters (L) to gallons US: liters x 0.26417 Refer to the calculation handout for the 2 bag system. 38 ሻ 𝐹 = 𝑁𝑅 ÷ (%𝑁 ÷ 100 ሻ 𝐹 = 1,000 𝑚𝑔 𝑁 ÷ (21 ÷ 100 =4,762 mg or 4.7 g in 10 L of water
  • 40. Elements that react in solution: • Calcium with phosphorous • Calcium with sulfates Calcium nitrate + Potassium sulfate Nutrient solution Injector Precipitated solids (Calcium sulfate) Fertilizer Incompatibility: Salt reaction 40
  • 41. Option 1: Separate incompatible salts in different concentrated tanks Concentrated calcium nitrate Concentrated potassium sulfate Dissolved ions will not react Injector 41 Injector Injector
  • 42. Option 2: Dissolve fertilizers separately then mix them 42 Calcium nitrate Potassium sulfate
  • 43. Lettuce • For every 10 gallons add • 1.34 oz (40 grams) of 5-12-26 fertilizer • 0.87 oz (25 grams) of 15.5-0-0 fertilizer • Dilute the fertilizers separately each in 5 gallons then combine the dissolved fertilizers • Measure pH and EC • Adjust the pH between 5.5 to 6.0 43 Element Required ppm Provided by fertilizers Total N 150 150.75 P 31 110 K 210 260 Ca 90 123.5 Mg 24 31 S 0 40 B 0.16 0.5 Cu 0.02 0.15 Fe 1 3 Mn 0.25 0.5 Mo 0.02 0.1 Zn 0.13 0.15
  • 44. Tomato Stage 1 • Use until you see the first cluster of flowers (approx. 6 weeks) • For every 10 gallons add: • 0.8 oz (23 grams) of 5-12-26 • 1 oz (29 grams) of 15.5-0-0 • 0.4 oz (11 grams) of Epsom salts • Dilute fertilizers separately • Measure pH and EC • Adjust pH 44 Element Required ppm Provided by fertilizers Total N 145 150 P 47 72 K 145 156 Ca 144 147 Mg 60 65 S 10 90 B 0.4 0.30 Cu 0.05 0.09 Fe 2 2 Mn 0.55 0.30 Mo 0.05 0.11 Zn 0.33 0.09 K:N ratio 1.0 1.04
  • 45. Tomato Stage 2 45 • Use until you see the fourth cluster of flowers (weeks 6 to 12) • For every 10 gallons add: • 1.5 oz (43 grams) of 5-12-26 • 1.2 oz (34 grams) of 15.5-0-0 • Dilute fertilizers separately • Measure pH and EC • Adjust pH Element Required ppm Provided by fertilizers Total N 195 195 P 47 137 K 300 300 Ca 160 168 Mg 60 69 S 10 98 B 0.4 0.58 Cu 0.05 0.17 Fe 2 3. 5 Mn 0.55 0.58 Mo 0.05 0.22 Zn 0.33 0.17 K:N ratio 1.54 1.54
  • 46. Tomato Stage 3 46 • Use when you see the fruits ripening (plants older than 12 weeks) • For every 10 gallons add: • 2 oz (57 grams) of 5-12-26 • 1.4 oz (39 grams) of 15.5-0-0 • Dilute fertilizers separately • Measure pH and EC • Adjust pH Element Required ppm Provided by fertilizers Total N 205 240 P 47 186 K 350 403 Ca 200 200 Mg 60 93 S 10 132 B 0.4 0.8 Cu 0.05 0.2 Fe 2 4.7 Mn 0.55 0.8 Mo 0.05 0.3 Zn 0.33 0.2 K:N ratio 1.7 1.68
  • 47. Nutrient solution management 1. Test your water source. 2. Research nutrient requirements for your crops (nutrient levels and pH). 3. Calculate how much fertilizer you need for the nutrient solutions. 4. Prepare nutrient solutions. 5. Measure pH and EC. 6. Adjust the pH as needed. 7. Constantly measure and adjust the pH and EC of the nutrient solution. 47
  • 48. Topics 1. Introduction 2. Factors that affect nutrient solutions • Water quality • pH • Electrical conductivity (EC) • Dissolved oxygen (temperature) • Crop requirements by growth stage • Water alkalinity (hardness) 3. Preparing nutrient solutions 4. Monitoring nutrient solutions 5. Organic fertilizers and aquaponics 48
  • 49. Why monitor and adjust nutrient solutions? • The pH and EC of the nutrient solution changes after mixing the fertilizers. We need to know how it changes so we can adjust it to the plants’ comfort zone. • Over time, plants use water and nutrients which generate changes to pH and EC of the nutrient solution. • We need to constantly monitor the nutrient solution to make necessary adjustments. • KEEP THE PLANTS IN THEIR COMFORT ZONE SO THEY CAN GROW! 49
  • 50. 50 The pH of the nutrient solution may fluctuate every day and it is necessary to control it.
  • 51. Increasing the pH • Use: • Potassium bicarbonate • Fertilizers with high nitrate concentration (0ver 25% of the total nitrogen is from nitrates) • Potassium hydroxide • Avoid using calcium carbonate (limestone) because it has low solubility. 51
  • 52. Chemical Notes Mineral and organic acids Cost $$: Cítrico > Fosfórico > Nítrico > Sulfúrico Safety: Cítrico > Fosfórico ≈ Sulfúrico > Nítrico Consider that some will provide additional nutrients. Iron sulfate (for potted plants) Can cause iron toxicity in plants, especially if the water contacts the leaves. It will precipitate and cause clogging. Elemental sulfur (for potted plants) Slow reaction and its solubility depends on the source of the product. Lowering the pH 52 How much acid you need? Depends on the alkalinity of the nutrient solution.
  • 53. How much acid you need? • Online calculator: e-Gro Alkalinity Calculator http://e-gro.org/alkcalc/ 53
  • 56. Monitoring pH and EC ▪ Cheap meters make inaccurate measurements that can result in costly mistakes ▪ A meter is as precise as the last time it was calibrated 56
  • 57. Choosing meters 57 This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND Fotos: Hannah instruments • Avoid test strips for pH (dyes in fertilizers). • The ideal meter: • Water and shock proof • Replaceable probes • Easy to calibrate • Available calibrating and storage solutions • Portable • pH-EC Combo • $100-$300
  • 58. Proper care for meters • Calibrate once a week • Calibrate in two points: pH 4 and 7 • Do not touch, scratch or rub paper towel on the pH probe glass bulb • Store the pH probe in storage solution or the pH 4 calibrating solution (not water) • Rinse with distilled or deionized water before every use, after calibration, in between samples, and before storing • Probe lifetime pH 1-2 years and EC 2-5 years • Replace when you can’t calibrate 58 Foto: Hannah instruments
  • 59. Needed meters 59 Parameter NFT & Dutch Bucket DWC pH Electric conductivity (EC) Temperature Dissolved oxygen (DO) Combo meters
  • 60. Topics 1. Introduction 2. Factors that affect nutrient solutions • Water quality • pH • Electrical conductivity (EC) • Dissolved oxygen (temperature) • Crop requirements by growth stage • Water alkalinity (hardness) 3. Preparing nutrient solutions 4. Monitoring nutrient solutions 5. Organic fertilizers and aquaponics 60
  • 62. 62
  • 63. Coupled aquaponic systems 63 This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA-NC This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY
  • 64. Holly Records Oregon Texas Pike Dent Linn Ray Polk Barry Iron Cass Howell Saline Macon Pettis Henry Holt Ozark Franklin Butler Vernon Adair Miller Shannon Carroll Wayne Benton Knox Wright Clark Taney Ralls Johnson Nodaway Ripley Phelps Laclede Douglas St Clair Callaway Clay Osage Chariton Jasper Lewis Dade Audrain Lincoln Monroe Harrison Perry Barton Greene Stoddard Cole Sullivan Dallas Reynolds Stone Camden Crawford Scott Morgan Cedar Newton Carter Maries Cooper Platte Gentry Jackson Shelby Pulaski Daviess Jefferson Putnam Lafayette Dunklin Bollinger Webster Mercer Marion Atchison Washington Clinton Howard Grundy Christian Lawrence Warren Andrew Madison St Charles De Kalb Livingston Hickory McDonald Scotland Caldwell Randolph Worth Moniteau Buchanan Schuyler Cape Girardeau St Louis County Boone Bates 0 200 100 Miles St. Francois Donna Aufdenberg OPEN Robert Balek Patrick Byers Catherine Bylinowski (Educator) Cory Creed Juan Cabrera-Garcia OPEN Kate Kammler Debi Kelly Kelly McGowan Kathi Mecham OPEN Jennifer Schutter Ramón Arancibia Justin Keay Tamra Reall OPEN Justin Keay – Justin.keay@missouri.edu Debi Kelly – kellyd@missouri.edu Kate Kammler – kammlerk@missouri.edu Donna Aufdenberg- aufdenbergd@missouri.edu Juan Cabrera-Garcia – jcabrera-garcia@missouri.edu Patrick Byers – byerspl@Missouri.edu Kelly McGowan – mcgowank@Missouri.edu Robert Balek – balekr@Missouri.edu Ramon Arancibia – ramon.arancibia@Missouri.edu Tamra Reall – reallt@Missouri.edu Cory Creed – creedca@Missouri.edu Kathi Mecham – mechamk@Missouri.edu Jennifer Schutter – schutterjl@Missouri.edu Horticulture Specialists College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources University of Missouri
  • 65. Optional Advanced nutrition and Aquaponic Slides Advanced concepts 65
  • 66. Factors that affect the nutrient solution 66 - Water quality - pH - Electrical conductivity (EC) - Nutrient requirements (for each crop and growth stage) - Water alkalinity - Dissolved oxygen Plant’s comfort zone!
  • 67. Water source quality 67 Parameter Optimum range pH 5.5-7 EC (dS/m) 0.2-0.8 Alkalinity 40-160 ppm CaCO3 equivalent Dissolved oxygen >6ppm Test your water source!
  • 68. pH 68
  • 69. Water 69 H+ OH- Neutral pH = H+ OH- Acidic pH H+ OH- Basic pH Water molecule
  • 70. What is pH? • Represented by a scale that ranges from 1 to 14. • Is a measure of the concentration of hydrogen ions (H+). • At pH 7 the solution is said to be neutral, below 7 it becomes more acidic and above 7 it becomes basic. 70 8 7 10 9 6 5 12 11 4 3 14 13 2 1
  • 71. •Solubility (availability) of nutrients. •Plant health (specificity): • Excessive → toxicity • Insuficiency → deficiency  Why is pH important?
  • 72. Optimum pH 72 Source: Chris Currey, Iowa State University
  • 74. Fertilizers are salts! • Ionic bond: elements with positive charge attach to elements with negative charge= SALTS! • Water molecules break the ionic bond so salts dissolve in to their charged state or ions (+: cations and -: anions). • This is important to know because the roots of plants take nutrients as ions! • The water source may contain elements already in solution. 74 𝐾+1 + 𝐶𝑙−1 → 𝐾𝐶𝑙 K+1 Cl-1 Cl-1 K+1 KCl
  • 75. What is Electrical Conductivity (EC)? • EC is used to measure a solution’s ability to conduct electricity. • A solution with high salt concentration will conduct more electricity. (Remember salts exist as ions in water). More dissolved nutrients=More electricity flow! (1 mS/cm = 1000 μS/cm = 1dS/m=1 mmhos/cm = 1000 μmhos/cm) 75
  • 76. Why is EC important? • EC used as an indicator of the total salt concentration in solution. It doesn’t provide information of which salts. • Ions that contribute to EC: • In water: Ca++, Mg++, SO4 -, Na+, Cl, HCO3- • In fertilizers: NO3 -, NH4 +, PO4, K+, Ca++, Mg++, SO4, Cl- 76
  • 77.
  • 78. More is not better 78 Yield Nutrient concentration/EC Deficiency Adequate $$ Toxicity
  • 79. Basil’s response to different EC levels: More is not better Source: Chris Currey, Iowa State Univ. 79
  • 80. Problem Ions 80 Element Critical level ppm (mg/L) Sodium (Na+) < 50 Chlorine (Cl-) < 70 Sulfates (SO4-) < 90 Boron (B) < 0.5 Fluor (F) < 1.0 Calcium (Ca++) < 150 Magnesium (Mg++) < 75
  • 81. Effect of pH and EC on hydroponic lettuce 132 106 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 Fresh weight (g/head) pH pH 5.4 6.0 119 119 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 Fresh weight (g/head) EC (mS/cm) EC 1.4 1.8 (Adapted from Hansen et al., 2009; n=112) 24% Difference No Difference 81
  • 83. Dissolved oxygen • Oxygen (O2): Necessary respiration for root growth and nutrient uptake. • Low O2: inhibits growth, increases ethylene production. • Optimum level for hydroponics ≥ 6 ppm 83
  • 84. Temperature affects how much oxygen is held by water ↑ Temperature=↓ oxygen solubility The solution temperature can affect plant health directly and indirectly. 84
  • 86. Specific crop and growth stage requirements • Given as part per million (ppm), %, or milligrams per liter (mg/L). 1 ppm: 1/1,000,000 Liquids: 1 mg/L (milligrams/liter) Solids: 1 mg/kg (milligrams/kilograms) 1%: 1/100 = 10,000 ppm • Recommendations for leafy greens given as ppm of nitrogen 86
  • 87. Requirements by crop and growth stage (ppm N) 87
  • 88. Fertilizer recipe: Lettuce 88 16-4-17 (1 bag) 5-11-26+ CaNO3 (2 bag) 9-7-37+ CaNO3 + MgSO4 (3 bag) Sonneveld’s Solution Nitrogen (ppm) 150 150 150 150 Phosphorus (ppm) 16 39 12 31 Potassium (ppm) 132 162 122 210 Calcium (ppm) 38 139 133 90 Magnesium (ppm) 14 47 42 24 Iron (ppm) 2.1 2.3 2.0 1.0 Manganese(ppm) 0.47 0.38 0.75 0.25 Zinc (ppm) 0.49 0.11 0.75 0.13 Boron (ppm) 0.21 0.38 0.36 0.16 Copper (ppm) 0.13 0.11 0.20 0.02 Molybdenum (ppm) 0.08 0.08 0.04 0.02 88
  • 89. Vine crop requirements (ppm) Tomato Cucumber N 125-225 160-210 NH4 (% Total N) 5-10 7-14 P 40-60 40-60 K 200-350 325-370 Ca 120-180 190-210 S 40-140 120-140 Mg 30-60 60-75 Fe 3-7 1-2 K/N Proportion 1:1 to 1.7:1 1.8:1 to2.1:1 EC 1.5-3.5 1.5-3.0 Courtesy: Richard McAvoy, Univ. of Connecticut 89
  • 90. Tomato nutrient requirement by growth stage Courtesy: Richard McAvoy Univ. of Connecticut Growth stage K:N Vegetative stage (before first flower) 1:1 1st to 4th cluster 1.5:1 Ripe fruit 1.7:1 To promote vegetative growth in any stage by increasing the amount of ammonium nitrogen (NH4). 90
  • 92. What is alkalinity? • Alkalinity is a measure of the acid neutralizing capacity of water. • Bicarbonates (HCO3 -): Ca, Mg, Na • Carbonates (CO3 --): Ca, Mg, Na • Ions: hydroxides, phosphates, silicates, sulfides, and borates • Think of it as “dissolved limestone” • The higher the alkalinity, higher amounts of acid needed to change the pH. 92
  • 93. How to measure alkalinity • Equivalents of calcium carbonate (CaCO3 ppm): • 1meq/L=50mg/L(ppm)=61mg /L HCO3 - • It is measured through titration. • It can’t be determined directly with a pH meter 93
  • 94. Alkalinity and pH management • Water with high alkalinity needs a lot of acid to change the pH • Low alkalinity: pH will fluctuate constantly forcing you to constantly monitor and adjust the pH $$$ 94
  • 95. Topics 1. Introduction 2. Factors that affect nutrient solutions • Water quality • pH • Electrical conductivity (EC) • Dissolved oxygen (temperature) • Crop requirements by growth stage • Water alkalinity (hardness) 3. Preparing nutrient solutions 4. Monitoring nutrient solutions 5. Organic fertilizers and aquaponics 95
  • 96. Fertilizer calculations (1 bag) Example: Prepare 10 liters (L) of nutrient solution with 100 ppm N using the 21-5-20 fertilizer • *Remember 100 ppm N = 100 mg N in 1 L of solution • 21-5-20 : %N-%P2O5-%K2O • Step 1. Calculate how much nitrogen you need for your nutrient solution tank. For 10 L we need : 10 L X 100 ppm N= 1,000 mg N 96
  • 97. Fertilizer calculations (1 bag) • Step 2. Calculate how much fertilizer you need to meet your nitrogen needs (1,000 mg N from step 1) F: required fertilizer, NR: required nitrogen (step 1), %N: percent nitrogen in the fertilizer (label) To convert grams (g) to ounces: gram x 0.035274 To convert liters (L) to gallons US: liters x 0.26417 Refer to the calculation handout for the 2 bag system. 97 ሻ 𝐹 = 𝑁𝑅 ÷ (%𝑁 ÷ 100 ሻ 𝐹 = 1,000 𝑚𝑔 𝑁 ÷ (21 ÷ 100 =4,762 mg or 4.7 g in 10 L of water
  • 99. Elements that react in solution: • Calcium with phosphorous • Calcium with sulfates Calcium nitrate + Potassium sulfate Nutrient solution Injector Precipitated solids (Calcium sulfate) Fertilizer Incompatibility: Salt reaction 99
  • 100. Option 1: Separate incompatible salts in different concentrated tanks Concentrated calcium nitrate Concentrated potassium sulfate Dissolved ions will not react Injector 100 Injector Injector
  • 101. Option 2: Dissolve fertilizers separately then mix them 101 Calcium nitrate Potassium sulfate
  • 102. Lettuce • For every 10 gallons add • 1.34 oz (40 grams) of 5-12-26 fertilizer • 0.87 oz (25 grams) of 15.5-0-0 fertilizer • Dilute the fertilizers separately each in 5 gallons then combine the dissolved fertilizers • Measure pH and EC • Adjust the pH between 5.5 to 6.0 102 Element Required ppm Provided by fertilizers Total N 150 150.75 P 31 110 K 210 260 Ca 90 123.5 Mg 24 31 S 0 40 B 0.16 0.5 Cu 0.02 0.15 Fe 1 3 Mn 0.25 0.5 Mo 0.02 0.1 Zn 0.13 0.15
  • 103. Tomato Stage 1 • Use until you see the first cluster of flowers (approx. 6 weeks) • For every 10 gallons add: • 0.8 oz (23 grams) of 5-12-26 • 1 oz (29 grams) of 15.5-0-0 • 0.4 oz (11 grams) of Epsom salts • Dilute fertilizers separately • Measure pH and EC • Adjust pH 103 Element Required ppm Provided by fertilizers Total N 145 150 P 47 72 K 145 156 Ca 144 147 Mg 60 65 S 10 90 B 0.4 0.30 Cu 0.05 0.09 Fe 2 2 Mn 0.55 0.30 Mo 0.05 0.11 Zn 0.33 0.09 K:N ratio 1.0 1.04
  • 104. Tomato Stage 2 104 • Use until you see the fourth cluster of flowers (weeks 6 to 12) • For every 10 gallons add: • 1.5 oz (43 grams) of 5-12-26 • 1.2 oz (34 grams) of 15.5-0-0 • Dilute fertilizers separately • Measure pH and EC • Adjust pH Element Required ppm Provided by fertilizers Total N 195 195 P 47 137 K 300 300 Ca 160 168 Mg 60 69 S 10 98 B 0.4 0.58 Cu 0.05 0.17 Fe 2 3. 5 Mn 0.55 0.58 Mo 0.05 0.22 Zn 0.33 0.17 K:N ratio 1.54 1.54
  • 105. Tomato Stage 3 105 • Use when you see the fruits ripening (plants older than 12 weeks) • For every 10 gallons add: • 2 oz (57 grams) of 5-12-26 • 1.4 oz (39 grams) of 15.5-0-0 • Dilute fertilizers separately • Measure pH and EC • Adjust pH Element Required ppm Provided by fertilizers Total N 205 240 P 47 186 K 350 403 Ca 200 200 Mg 60 93 S 10 132 B 0.4 0.8 Cu 0.05 0.2 Fe 2 4.7 Mn 0.55 0.8 Mo 0.05 0.3 Zn 0.33 0.2 K:N ratio 1.7 1.68
  • 106. 106 The pH of the nutrient solution may fluctuate every day and it is necessary to control it.
  • 107. Increasing the pH • Use: • Potassium bicarbonate • Fertilizers with high nitrate concentration (0ver 25% of the total nitrogen is from nitrates) • Potassium hydroxide • Avoid using calcium carbonate because it has low solubility. 107
  • 108. Chemical Notes Mineral and organic acids Cost $$: Cítrico > Fosfórico > Nítrico > Sulfúrico Safety: Cítrico > Fosfórico ≈ Sulfúrico > Nítrico Consider that some will provide additional nutrients. Iron sulfate (for potted plants) Can cause iron toxicity in plants, especially if the water contacts the leaves. It will precipitate and cause clogging. Elemental sulfur (for potted plants) Slow reaction and its solubility depends on the source of the product. Lowering the pH 108 How much acid you need? Depends on the alkalinity of the nutrient solution.
  • 109. Why is alkalinity important? 109 Volume (in ml) of 0.0164 N H2SO4 Added 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Water pH 4.0 4.5 5.0 5.5 6.0 6.5 7.0 7.5 High Alkalinity Water Low Alkalinity Water Cortesía: Paul Fisher, UF
  • 110. How much acid you need? • Online calculator: e-Gro Alkalinity Calculator http://e-gro.org/alkcalc/ 110
  • 111. Water quality for aquaponics • In aquaponic systems, you make compromises to keep the fish, biofilter, and plants in their comfort zones 111 Parameter Catfish Biofilter Lettuce Tomato General system Temperature (°F) 75 - 86 > 68 75 77 75 - 86 Dissolved oxygen (ppm) 5 - 15 > 4 > 6 > 6 6 pH 6 - 8 7 - 9 5.5 - 6.5 5.5 - 6.5 6.8 - 7 Ammonia (NH3, ppm) < 1 - < 1 < 1 < 1 Nitrite (NO2-) 0 - 1 - 0 - 1 0 - 1 0 - 1 Nitrate (NO3-, ppm) < 150 - 125 - 150 125 - 225 150
  • 112. Solid separators • Non-decomposed material clogs the system and its degradation lowers the dissolved oxygen. • Bacteria in the biofilter, fishes, and plants NEED oxygen 112 Centrifuge Radial flow Water in Water out Solid waste out Clarifier GRAVITY Granular media Screen filter FILTRATION
  • 113. Biofilter • Bacteria in the biofilm transform toxic forms of nitrogen to nitrate (safe for fish and plants) 113 Granular media Moving bed biofilter Fixed bed biofilter This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA Trickling filter
  • 114. Nitrogen cycle in aquaponics Nitrogen management determines the success of an aquaponic system! 114 Mineralization Fish waste and feed NH4 + NH3 Nitrosomonas NO2 - Nitrobacter NO3 - TOXIC Fish tank Biofilter Hydroponic crop TAN
  • 115. Total ammoniacal nitrogen (TAN) • Includes toxic (NH3) and nontoxic (NH4+) forms. • The nontoxic form prevails with pH under 7 and temperatures under 87°F/31°C 115 Source: FAO Recirculated Aquaculture Guide 2015
  • 116. Priming the biofilters 116 Peter Chou, Project Feed 1010 • Fish cycling • Cycling without fish: use ammonia • Use meters to know when the biofilter is ready • Amonia y nitrites <1 ppm • Nitrate <150 ppm
  • 117. Fish:plant Ratio • Ratio depends on the amount of fish feed used • Temperature: fish metabolism • Fish species and growth stage • For DWC systems: 60 – 100 g/m2/día • 100 g of feed per day = 1 – 1.6 m2 • 100 m2 of production = 6,000 – 10,000 g/day • NFT uses 25% of the requirements for DWC • On average fishes will consume 1.5 – 2% of their weight per day • Ideally measure nitrogen forms and ajust the fish:plant rates 117
  • 119. Dispersion of plant Pathogens Stanghellini et al., 2000 119
  • 120. Common Pathogens in Hydroponics • Pythium spp. • Phytophthora spp. • Thielaviopsis basicola • Xanthomonas • Sclerotinia • Botrytis • Powdery and downy mildew 120
  • 121. Temperature and Diseases 20-30% of losses occur in the summer 121
  • 122. Temperature ▪Lettuce: root 75°F; air→Day 68°F-75°F→Night 60°F-65°F ▪ Tomatoes 77°F ▪ Spinach: root 72°F; air 61°F - 91°F (Thompson et al., 1998; Tindall et al., 1990; Lee and Takakura, 1995, ) 122
  • 124. Algae in indoor production 124
  • 125. 125
  • 126. Algaes Factors that affect the growth of algae: • Nutrients • Water • Light 126
  • 129. Biocontrol in organic production still not compatible with hydroponic production Cora McGehee, PhD Student UConn 129
  • 131. Holly Records Oregon Texas Pike Dent Linn Ray Polk Barry Iron Cass Howell Saline Macon Pettis Henry Holt Ozark Franklin Butler Vernon Adair Miller Shannon Carroll Wayne Benton Knox Wright Clark Taney Ralls Johnson Nodaway Ripley Phelps Laclede Douglas St Clair Callaway Clay Osage Chariton Jasper Lewis Dade Audrain Lincoln Monroe Harrison Perry Barton Greene Stoddard Cole Sullivan Dallas Reynolds Stone Camden Crawford Scott Morgan Cedar Newton Carter Maries Cooper Platte Gentry Jackson Shelby Pulaski Daviess Jefferson Putnam Lafayette Dunklin Bollinger Webster Mercer Marion Atchison Washington Clinton Howard Grundy Christian Lawrence Warren Andrew Madison St Charles De Kalb Livingston Hickory McDonald Scotland Caldwell Randolph Worth Moniteau Buchanan Schuyler Cape Girardeau St Louis County Boone Bates 0 200 100 Miles St. Francois Donna Aufdenberg Open Robert Balek Patrick Byers Catherine Bylinowski (Educator) vacant Vacant vancant Kate Kammler Debi Kelly Kelly McGowan Kathi Mecham Open Jennifer Schutter Ramón Arancibia Justin Keay Tamra Reall Justin Keay – Justin.keay@missouri.edu Debi Kelly – kellyd@missouri.edu Kate Kammler – kammlerk@missouri.edu Donna Aufdenberg- aufdenbergd@missouri.edu Patrick Byers – byerspl@Missouri.edu Kelly McGowan – mcgowank@Missouri.edu Robert Balek – balekr@Missouri.edu Ramon Arancibia – ramon.arancibia@Missouri.edu Tamra Reall – reallt@Missouri.edu Kathi Mecham – mechamk@Missouri.edu Jennifer Schutter – schutterjl@Missouri.edu Specialists in horticulture College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources University of Missouri vacant