Guaranteed Analysis of an Organic Hydroponic Nutrient Product – Part 4: Carbon


carbon organic hydroponic nutrients

This is the final piece of a 4-part series on a guaranteed analysis of organic hydroponic nutrient products. Part 1 can be found here. Part 2 can be found here. Part 3 can be found here

What is Carbon

All living things on this earth are made out of carbon. It’s the chemical compound that “runs earth” so to speak. When combined with other atoms, carbon forms chains that turn into proteins, fats, carbohydrates, which then nourish other living things. In other words, if it’s a living being, carbon is its backbone. Carbon atoms bond with other atoms to form chains such as proteins, fats and carbohydrates, which in turn provides other living things with nourishment.

Through the carbon cycle, carbon is often stores in soil organic matter due to the decomposition of plant and animal residues, living and dead microorganisms, soil biota and root exudates (which allows for compounds such as proteins to enter the roots). Depending on the media (soil or otherwise) that this carbon content is stored in, the source of the carbon, its particle size, decomposition rate, and availability greatly varies. Soil texture, climate, and the accumulation of this carbon all impact a common factor known as “microbial mineralization”. We know that you’re familiar with this term by now because you have been following us for quite some time. For example, humus sourced carbon is more stable but requires significantly more time for the carbon to decompose into carbon rich compounds than carbon sourced from bacteria and fungi. This is because the living organisms have simply done the hard work.

"Soil texture, climate, and the accumulation of this carbon all impact a common factor known as “microbial mineralization”. We know that you’re familiar with this term by now because you have been following us for quite some time. For example, humus sourced carbon is more stable but requires significantly more time for the carbon to decompose into carbon rich compounds than carbon sourced from bacteria and fungi."


How Plants Use Carbon
By adding organic matter which is usually rich in carbon to a growing medium, whether it’s soil or a substrate such as coco coir, peat, etc. the carbon acts as a catalyst of nourishment. This often leads to faster plant shoots and root development and overall healthier growth than a medium lacking carbon. In a nutshell, carbon and crop health is strongly correlated.

For this reason, farms should closely monitor the carbon-to-nitrogen (C:N) ratio that their crops are receiving and consuming in order to benefit from this enhancement. According to USDA, particularly when it comes to soil-based farming, the most optimum C:N ratio is 24:1 With this ratio, approximately 16 parts of the carbon is used for energy, and the remainder is then utilized for maintenance of the crop. The 24:1 ratio is important because it affects crop residue decomposition, especially when it comes to residue-cover on soil. Importantly, it also triggers the release of nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and zinc to crops, impacting crop nutrient cycling, predominantly nitrogen. What does this mean? If the carbon is excessively high eg: 60:1, any microbes used by farms will need to find extra nitrogen to balance out the carbon. Where will they get this? For traditional farming: soil. For soilless farming: your organic hydroponic nutrients.

 "According to USDA, particularly when it comes to soil-based farming, the most optimum C:N ratio is 24:1 With this ratio, approximately 16 parts of the carbon is used for energy, and the remainder is then utilized for maintenance of the crop."


Carbon in Guaranteed Analysis Reports
Carbon is typically shown as “Carbon”, just as one would expect, on a fertilizer or nutrient product’s Guaranteed Analysis Report (as shown below). We hope that we have helped you realize that carbon can be a cost effective plant enhancement for maximizing nutrient distribution, nutrient uptake and overall crop performance. If you are using a fertilizer or nutrient product that has carbon it will be reported in a manner similar to the example below which reflects our Away We Grow Transition (Organic Hydroponic Nutrient) Product.

Carbon guaranteed analysis soilless farm


Soilless Systems and Carbon
However, how does a soilless farm, lacking nutrient-rich soil and soil biology beneficial to making this carbon decompose and productive to plants, able to access its benefits? It is not an easy feat to manufacture a organic hydroponic nutrient product that does not create persistent biofilm, high water turbidity (the lack of water clarity), and prevent nutrient distribution within a grow medium requires specialized processing and a blend of plant extracts and biostimulants capable of being compatible for all soilless system types! Curious to know how we do this and make this available to your soilless farm? You can ask us how here.