Allow me to get started with a prediction: Within four years, prototype camera systems will be able to evaluate a crop canopy’s nutritional status, utilizing hyperspectral cameras that analyze thin slivers of the visible spectrum, and adjust fertilizer injectors and irrigation systems practically in real time.
If this seems far-fetched, consider that handheld Soil-Plant Analyses Development (SPAD) meters-that measure leaf greenness, quantifying differences invisible to the naked eye and providing a rough correlation with nitrogen content-have been readily 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 provide you a competitive advantage.
Meanwhile, this post 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 pertain to all formulation types. Scheduling and fertilizer-application decisions start out with effective monitoring.
What you should Monitor
Root substrates should be tested for pH and electrical conductivity (EC) at the very least every fourteen days employing 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 following a fertilization. You’ll be surprised how rapidly the plant takes up fertilizer in just 24 hours. Adjust fertilization accordingly to keep your desired pH and EC, based on crop stage and your knowledge about the cultivar. The fertilization schedule can vary based on sunlight and temperature in a greenhouse or outdoor setting, and can maintain more stability in controlled environments.
It is possible to determine a strong, data-based understanding of your crop’s nutrient status by developing a graph that compares laboratory testing results for individual nutrient levels overlaid with your routine pour-through tests. Substrate testing by an external lab is costly, with tissue testing a lot more so. For cost effectiveness, track soil and cannabis nutrient consulting regularly for the initial two crops in a new grow system, then annually after that. Tissue and soil samples needs to be taken every two weeks, minimum. Your end goal is to make a “hospital chart” hanging near the crop for the team to refer to, with actual measurements plotted with time and desired ranges clearly indicated. This may effectively facilitate consistent nutrition across crops and multiple growers, as well as in multiple facilities.
Water-soluble fertilizers would be best delivered using a fertilizer injector, which doses the proper proportion of the concentrate into hoses, dripper lines or sprinklers. Of course, injectors can also be used to fill a hydroponic or ebb-and-flood reservoir. These are water-driven, so don’t require electricity. Injectors needs to be sized according to your anticipated flow rate: Exceeding an injector’s flow capacity causes it to get up, along with a sub-minimum rate leads to inaccurate dosing.
Larger, higher priced units appraise the flow rate to dose most accurately, use a 15- to 20-year lifespan, and will be incorporated into environmental control systems. They can be integrated with pH and EC probes plumbed into the delivery pipes for monitoring, feedback and alarming.
Smaller devices can be mounted near the crop or over a dolly for portability. Their lifespan can be a lot more than five-years if protected from sunlight and flushed when taken out of use. Whether fixed or portable, it’s effective to possess a bypass on or plumbed around the injector for applying domestic water without nutrients.
Some units possess a fixed dosing ratio, while more versatile ones have adjustable settings. Electronic solenoids can be integrated for automating the device, if you have an irrigation controller. In addition, you can attach battery power timer to cwilkj water spigot that supplies the injector.
A great principle for watering volume or duration: You can’t overwater containerized plants by making use of a lot of at one time. After the substrate reaches container capacity, any added solution expires the drainage holes. You can 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 ought to be at least twenty percent of what was applied. If you add less, fertilizer salts will accumulate inside the pot. This can lead to root damage. Irrigating to a 20-percent leach fraction keeps an appropriate nutrient balance inside the substrate, making it possible for consistent availability and optimum nutritional status.