Supplying nutrients in the right ratios to your plants is extremely important in a hydroponic system as it lacks soil and a natural growing environment. Too less, too much, wrong time and a wrong type of nutrient can cause nutrient related diseases that can damage your crop. One of the advantages with hydroponics is that you can quickly change the components of the nutrient solution in case you spot a deficiency.
Our previous post was on plant diseases caused by living organisms while this post will cover abiotic diseases. The guide below will cover most nutrient deficiencies, their symptoms and possible care you can take up.
Role of Nitrogen: Photosynthesis, reproduction, growth of leaves and stem.
What does it look like? pale green or yellow leaves. excess nitrogen can cause root stunting.
How to fix it? Maintaining a pH of 5.8-6.3 range can improve nitrogen uptake. one can also use a good nitrogen supplement.
Role of phosphorous: Respiration, food storage, cell division and many more.
What does it look like? yellowish leaves, that curl at the tips. Purple veins on leaves and small flowers.
How to fix it? Phosphorous uptake is slow in cold nutrient solutions, a pH below 5.5 and above 7. apart from temperature and pH adjustments you can add products such as Nature’s Nectar.
Role of potassium: Important for many metabolic cycles and enzyme activity.
What does it look like? burnt leaf margins, dead spots, symptoms of chlorosis in stems and leaves.
How to fix it? adding a potassium supplement to the nutrient solution will improve the flowering and fruiting in potassium deficient plants.
Role of calcium: calcium plays an important role in uptake of other nutrients, strengthening of cell walls and root development, cell division and has a number of other roles.
What does it look like? Calcium deficiency effects faster growing parts and newer parts of the plant such as new leaves. burning of leaf margins, lack of rigidity, death of new leaves and growing parts of the shoot are some of the symptoms.
How to fix it? add a calcium supplement to the nutrient solution, follow mixing charts to avoid overdose.
Role of magnesium: enzyme function, photosynthesis and cell division use magnesium.
What does it look like? mottling, curling of leaf edges, chlorosis and necrosis of leaves are the main symptoms. It affects the older leaves first.
How to fix it? Using a cal-mag nutrient can help reduce magnesium deficiency.
Role of iron: chlorophyl production and a number of metabolic activities.
What does it look like? chlorosis of younger leaves and veins that make them look pale and yellow.
How to fix it? low water temperatures and higher pH can reduce iron uptake. other than adjusting environmental conditions, one can use products such as Revive to up the levels of iron.
Role of molybdenum: amino acid synthesis and fixing atmospheric nitrogen
What does it look like? It resembles nitrogen deficiency and its uptake is dependant on sulphur and potassium levels in the medium. Chlorosis of veins or margins and malformed leaf structure are symptoms of molybdenum deficiency.
How to fix it? choose a product that is composed of micronutrients which often includes molybdenum along with others such as cobalt and magnesium.
Role of sulphur: amino acid and protein synthesis and chlorophyll production. Sulfur is essential for a good yield in terms of quality and quantity.
What does it look like? reddish veins and petioles, delayed maturity, stunted growth and spindle like structure.
How to fix it? adding epsom, gypsum salts or other sulfates in measured quantities can improve sulphur levels and result in good flower and fruit in your crop.
Role of Boron: amino acid production and seed production sugar transportation, cell division, formation of a strong root and stem structure
What does it look like? stunting, discolouration of leaf tips, darker roots, scorching of leaf tips and margins are among teh common symptoms.
How to fix it? Boron is present in most nutrient products that contain micronutrients. It is also available in sea weed based nutrient formulae, such as General Organics Bio Weed.
Role of Silicon: provides rigidity to cell wall, plays an important role in resistance against harsh weather such as drought and frost and shields from pests. It effects uptake and distribution of other elements such as manganese in plants.
What does it look like? Silicon deficiency is hard to distinguish but generally exhibits as weak leaves and stems that makes plants susceptible to fungi and other disease causing organisms.
How to fix it? a wide number of silica supplements are available in the market and they have proven to be very beneficial, especially to hydroponic farmers. Use of these products results in better quality fruits and vegetables and better resistance in plants.
Visit zenhydro.com for a huge selection of nutrients and supplements for your hydroponic garden.