Allow me to begin with a prediction: Within four years, prototype camera systems can assess a crop canopy’s nutritional status, applying hyperspectral cameras that evaluate thin slivers of the visible spectrum, and change fertilizer injectors and irrigation systems practically in real time.
In the event that seems far-fetched, consider that handheld Soil-Plant Analyses Development (SPAD) meters-that measure leaf greenness, quantifying differences invisible towards the human eye and providing a rough correlation with nitrogen content-have already been available for years. Growers would be the ones who calibrate these camera systems-not the engineers who build them-so migrating to data-driven making decisions now will give you a competitive advantage.
For the time being, this article provides insights to the fertilization of solid root substrates (rockwool, coir, etc.) using inorganic salts, though some growers successfully use organic sources. Most of the concepts apply to all formulation types. Scheduling and fertilizer-application decisions start out with effective monitoring.
Things to Monitor
Root substrates needs to be tested for pH and electrical conductivity (EC) at least every 2 weeks utilizing a non-destructive “pour-through” technique. Graph these results. You’ll learn the trends that develop over your crop’s growth stages. Also, occasionally track this data every several hours using a fertilization. You’ll be blown away how rapidly the plant requires fertilizer within twenty four hours. Adjust fertilization accordingly to maintain your desired pH and EC, based upon crop stage as well as your knowledge of the cultivar. The fertilization schedule can vary according to sunlight and temperature in a greenhouse or outdoor setting, but will maintain more stability in controlled environments.
You are able to determine an effective, data-based understanding of your crop’s nutrient status by creating a graph that compares laboratory testing outcomes for individual nutrient levels overlaid with your routine pour-through tests. Substrate testing by another lab is expensive, with tissue testing even more so. For cost effectiveness, track soil and cannabis nutrient consultant regularly for the first couple of crops in a new grow system, then annually after that. Tissue and soil samples should be taken every two weeks, minimum. Your end goal is to make a “hospital chart” hanging close to the crop for the team to make reference to, with actual measurements plotted over time and desired ranges clearly indicated. This may effectively facilitate consistent nutrition across crops and multiple growers, and in multiple facilities.
Water-soluble fertilizers are the best delivered utilizing a fertilizer injector, which doses the right proportion of a concentrate into hoses, dripper lines or sprinklers. Of course, injectors could also be used to fill a hydroponic or ebb-and-flood reservoir. These are water-driven, so don’t require electricity. Injectors ought to be sized based upon your anticipated flow rate: Exceeding an injector’s flow capacity causes it to seize up, and a sub-minimum rate results in inaccurate dosing.
Larger, more expensive units look at the flow rate to dose most accurately, use a 15- to 20-year lifespan, and can be incorporated into environmental control systems. They can be integrated with pH and EC probes plumbed straight into the delivery pipes for monitoring, feedback and alarming.
Smaller devices may be mounted nearby the crop or over a dolly for portability. Their lifespan can be greater than 5 years if protected against sunlight and flushed when removed from use. Whether fixed or portable, it’s effective to get a bypass on or plumbed round the injector for applying domestic water without nutrients.
Some units have a fixed dosing ratio, while more versatile ones have adjustable settings. Electronic solenoids could be integrated for automating the program, for those who have an irrigation controller. Additionally you can attach battery power timer to cwilkj water spigot that supplies the injector.
A good guideline for watering volume or duration: You can’t overwater containerized plants by making use of too much at once. When the substrate reaches container capacity, any added solution runs out the drainage holes. You are able to only overwater by not allowing the substrate to dry properly between irrigation events.
Apply fertilizer solution until water pours out the foot of the pot. This leachate should be at the very least twenty percent of what was applied. In the event you add less, fertilizer salts will accumulate inside the pot. This might lead to root damage. Irrigating to a 20-percent leach fraction keeps a proper nutrient balance within the substrate, permitting consistent availability and optimum nutritional status.