What is a nutrient calculator, specifically for hydroponics? In this blog post, Mike Straumietis, Founder and CEO of Advanced Nutrients, discusses how to use such an application.
Firstly, it’s important to note that companies such as Advanced Nutrients have a feeding chart typically set up per gallon or liter. Even with that, you will still need to calculate your personalized chart. You must base it on several factors, including the reservoir’s size, plant growth or bloom stage, and water hardness.
Mike Straumietis stresses the importance of a feed chart. Once you select a nutrient line, you must ensure that the supply of nutrients for your plants is accurate. For instance, adding the same amounts of fertilizer per week does not mean your plants will grow the way you want them to. Growers must remember that different plants need different nutrients to maximize their growth. Too many or too few nutrients will affect plant development.
Feed charts show you how much more to supply in the progressing weeks and for vegetative growth. These charts will also help you allocate nutrients during the different vegetative and flowering phases. This information is very important since the nutrient needs of plants change as they move from vegetative to flowering, Mike Straumietis adds.
When flowering starts, plants need more potassium, calcium, and phosphorus. Feed charts let you know when to stop and add different products to help you meet your plant’s nutrient needs. Feeding your plants with the same amount of nutrients will run a high risk of nutrient deficiencies or toxicities and render a portion of nutrients useless.
Usually, nutrient brands have feed charts for their products. Be reminded, though, that there are things these charts can and cannot do. For instance, some charts only provide basic information, such as the number of nutrients you will need to put in per gallon of solution on specific weeks, according to Mike Straumietis.
This is where the nutrient calculator comes in.
Nutrient calculators are much like feed charts, but these online apps provide a more accurate picture of the nutrients for your hydroponic system. Like other online calculators, you will need to enter the information about your system, and the calculator will give you your answer in return.
Regarding your hydroponic system, Mike Straumietis says that you’ll need to know specifics such as the dimensions of your stock tank, the type of nutrient you’ll be using, and the base PPM or EC of your solution. When you input the required info, just hit enter, and the calculator will do the rest. You’ll probably receive a feeding chart that shows you the amount of each nutrient product to put in every week.
Below, Mike Straumietis lists some of the components and details of a nutrient calculator.
Base PPM / EC: The Base PPM or EC will tell if any minerals are already in the water. It measures your solution’s parts per million (PPM) or electronic conductivity (EC). The PPM indicates how many minerals are in your solution. The EC shows the number of salts in the solution.
Type of Media: Various types of media react to nutrients in different ways. For instance, soil typically contains residual nutrients. Inert media, on the other hand, like coco and Rockwool, do not contain nutrients of any kind. The differences in the cation exchange capacity (CEC) within each material will tell you how some materials hold onto nutrients more or less than others, affecting how many nutrients you need to allocate to your plants over time.
Nutrient Product(s): Because different hydroponic fertilizer products have different amounts and ratios of nutrients, it is only natural that the application recommendations will be different between products. Moreover, you might be using more than one of these products at a time. The best nutrient calculators let you know how much of each product to put in during each week of a plant’s growth.