How to Measure Right pH for Hydroponics Systems?
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Are you planning to set up your own hydroponic system? Then there are certain crucial factors, which you need to take care of like temperature, humidity, and pH level. pH is probably the most overlooked aspects when it comes to hydroponic systems. However, it is a very important factor ad can deter growth of plants if not set right.
pH is measured on a scale of 1-14 with 7 being neutral. Acids are lower than 7 and alkalis (bases) are above 7. The term pH refers to the potential hydrogen-hydroxyl ion content of a solution. Solutions ionize into positive and negative ions. If the solution has more hydrogen (positive) ions than hydroxyl (negative) ions then it is an acid (1-6.9 on the pH scale). Conversely if the solution has more hydroxyl ions than hydrogen it is alkaline (or base), with a range of 7.1-14 on the pH scale.
One might wonder why pH so important in hydroponic gardening. The answer lies in the fact that when the pH is not at the proper level the plant will lose its ability to absorb some of the essential elements required for healthy growth. For all plants there is a particular pH level that will produce optimum results. So it is essential to measure right pH for your hydroponic system.
Measuring and checking pH is very simple. Most inexpensive way is to do a litmus test. These paper strips are impregnated with a pH sensitive dye which changes color when dipped into the nutrient solution. The paper strip is then compared to a color chart to determine the pH level of the solution being checked. However, the color changes are very subtle and can be hard to differentiate. For hobbyists who are just starting with hydroponic gardening, liquid pH test kit is a popular method to measure pH. The kits come with pH sensitive dye which when added to nutrient solution of your hydroponic system will change color and you can determine the right pH by comparing it to the chart provided in the kit. The most high-tech way to check pH is to use the digital meters. These meters come in various shapes and sizes. The most popular type of pH meter for any hydroponic system is the digital pen. These pens are very handy and easy to use. You simply dip the electrode into the nutrient solutions for a few moments and the pH value is displayed on an LCD screen.
Remember, as your plants take up nutrients from the reservoir, pH level of nutrient solution will go up. Thus keep checking pH time to time and adjust the right level to avoid any damage to your plants.