What is pH?
This is used to measure the acidity and alkalinity of an aqueous solution. pH is an acronym for potential hydrogen/hydroxyl ion in a solution. For the acidic solution, the pH ranges from 0 to 6.9 and ranges from 7.1 to 14 in alkaline solution. The pure water has pH of 7, and it is known as the neutral pH. Is pH important in hydroponics systems? For most hydroponics gardening, the pH should be in the range of 5.8 to 6.2.
Importance of pH level in hydroponics
The proper pH balance plays a vital role in ensuring the healthy growth of plants in the hydroponics system. When the pH lies in the correct range, the plants will have the capability to absorb the right nutrients for proper growth. It is important to note that some nutrients are only available at specific pH. For instance, if the pH of your hydroponic system is too low, some vital elements such as Calcium and Magnesium can become unavailable. In this case, your plants will not grow well if they lack such essential elements. Also, low pH leads to toxicity that can thwart the growth of your hydroponics plants.
On the other hand, the alkaline environment can result in the increase in macro nutrients. However, the levels of phosphorus, iron, zinc, manganese, and copper are reduced, and can negatively affect the plant growth.
In this case, the pH range of 5.8 to 6.2 makes all essential nutrients available to the hydroponic plants. Therefore, it is important to maintain proper pH. Otherwise, the plants will get stunted and result in reduced yields.
Should you measure the pH levels in your hydroponic system?
Checking the pH level of the nutrient solution will help you maintain the proper balance in your hydroponics system. You can check the pH using liquid pH test kits, paper test strips, or digital pH meter. For liquid pH test kits and test paper strips, you will compare the color of result liquid against the standard pH color chart.
However, digital pH meter is the most accurate tool for measuring the pH levels in your hydroponics system. You just dip the electrode into your nutrient solution and the pH value will be displayed on the LCD screen.
How to adjust the pH level in your hydroponic system
Ideally, you are adding nutrients to the hydroponic system. Unlike in soil-based systems, the pH can fluctuate very fast in hydroponics because there is no buffer. In this case, you will have to do constant monitoring of the pH level to maintain the right balance.
You can use pH Down or pH Up to adjust the pH levels in your system. In this case, pH Up will raise the pH level while pH Down to use to lower the pH level. Adjustment of the pH level should be made on a regular basis to allow optimum plant growth.
The pH level plays a significant role in hydroponics. Proper pH balance allows optimum absorption of nutrients by the plants in hydroponic systems. Therefore, it is imperative to check the pH levels on a regular basis and make the necessary adjustments.