pH Testing invokes this image of a mad horticulturalist performing an arcane ritual when nothing could be further from the truth. pH testing is simple and easy to understand.
What is pH?
pH stands for the rather cumbersome potentiometric hydrogen ion concentration. Simply put, it is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. The pH scale is from 0-14 and pure water has a neutral pH of 7. Anything that would be considered acidic is rated lower than 7 and anything considered alkaline is rated higher than 7.
How Does this Affect my Hydroponic System and Why Test for pH?
Well, different plants require different pH to get optimal growth. Testing your growing solution allows you to correct any imbalances in the pH levels, allowing you to grow bigger and better plants. It is one of the simplest and least technical ways to increase your produce yields and plant size. Think of it as part of providing the best home for the roots of your plants – allowing them to feed at the best rate possible. Always add the nutrients to the water before checking and adjusting the pH of your solution. Should your pH level go too high or too low the nutrients in your system will settle out – leading to deficiency and potential death of your plants.
Ways to Test for pH
The simplest and least expensive way to test water pH is paper test strips. The strips, which have a pH sensitive dye on them, change color when dipped into your nutrient solution. You compare the color on the strip to a color chart to determine the Ph level. Nothing complicated about that. The only downside is that the strips can be hard to read because the color differences can be subtle.
The most popular method to check pH is liquid test kits. The liquid test kits work by adding a few drops of pH sensitive dye to a small amount of the nutrient solution your hydroponic system uses and comparing the color with a color chart. These kits are a bit more expensive than the paper strip tests but are much easier to read and are extremely accurate and reliable.
For the technologically gifted, the most high-tech way to check pH is to use the digital meters. They come in a large array of sizes and prices. The digital pen style meter is the most popular. Just dip the electrode into the nutrient solution for a few moments and the pH value is displayed on an LCD screen. They are very handy and easy to use. Digital meters usually need to be calibrated frequently, as the meters can drift so you need to check the calibration often to ensure accuracy. Most pens also require the tips to be stored in a buffer or electrode storage solution and have a reputation of breaking down without warning.
Testing the pH of your hydroponic nutrient solution does not require any arcane rituals but it will lead to healthier and larger plants.
Provided by Healthyhydroponics.blogspot.com.