Selecting the right fertilizer for your hydroponic system is a big decision. With so many factors to take into consideration when assessing the spectrum of options that exist, growers can find themselves at dead ends or even cross roads. We wanted to relieve this guesswork for you and provide a “map” of sorts in the form of questions that we often encounter. In reality, every indoor grower should ask their nutrient supplier the same.
For this publication, we will focus on how to determine if the nutrient you’re selecting will potentially clog your soilless farming system.
Synthetic Mineral Salts vs Organic Fertilizers
Most growers will agree that in an ideal situation, organic fertilizers would be their first bet. Environmentally friendly and exponentially lower in carbon emissions. However, often times, organic matter from these fertilizer sources tend to clog pumps and drip emitters, cause the pH to be highly variable, and lack the water solubility achieved by mineral salts.
For synthetic mineral salts, they’re often oversupplying nutrients with high sodium content while under-serving a full spectrum of micronutrients in a single product. These are only a few of the key differences between these input types. With many organic fertilizers such as fish fertilizers, bat guano and other animal based products, due to their viscosity, clogging can be a challenge.
What To Ask Before Buying Nutrients/Fertilizers
It’s important to discuss the following considerations with a nutrient supplier to help you determine if the selected input is right for you:
- Have you seen less clogging in PVC versus plastic and metal soilless systems?
While plastic and metal systems are known to be better (less source of toxins), PVC is more cost-effective, and is known to clog less easily.
- Are there any synthetic mineral salts combined in your solution, increasing its solubility?
Some organic fertilizer suppliers will add a small dose of synthetics in order to make the particles even smaller, thus reducing the risk of clogging.
What form does your organic fertilizer come in?
Fertilizer solutions come in a variety of forms eg: liquid, powder, etc, and ensuring that the form you put in your system is correct can save you a lot of hassle as it may increase the operational burden to incorporate these types into your system.
What was the micron level (pore size) that your liquid organic fertilizers were filtered with?
A smaller filtration pore size means less flow of water and therefore more cleaning of the system. Therefore, understanding how much filtration was used in the process of making the nutrient is important.
Have you ever considered using organic hydroponic nutrients in your indoor growing or hydroponic system but prefer not to encounter the challenges above relating to organic fertilizers? Still not sure how to make the difference between the two?
We'd be happy to show how our Away We Grow 4-1-1 is like growing with mineral salts but from an environmentally friendly source, providing more value.
* While this is by no means an exhaustive list, we hope this will help as many indoor growers as possible – because a more informed grower means a healthier food system!
** For a list of our organic hydroponic nutrient’s FAQs, click here.