How to Make Organic Liquid Fertilizer for a Hydroponics System
This video gives step by step instructions on how to make your own organic liquid fertilizer to use in your hydroponic system.
Organic Nutrients Used to Make Organic Liquid Fertilizer for a Hydroponics System
There are a few different approaches to obtaining and using organic nutrient sources in a hydroponic system. It can be difficult to get a balanced and suitably high ratio of all the essential minerals from organic sources alone, so you should experiment with different products. There is a range of liquid organic nutrient concentrates on the market, as well as some fertilizer salts that are considered organic and naturally occurring to help boost growth where required.
Generally, sulphate trace elements, such as iron sulphate, copper sulphate, zinc sulphate, manganese sulphate and magnesium sulphate (Epsom salt), are allowed under organic production, so you can use these to help round out any deficiencies that may occur with organic nutrients.
An organic iron chelate can be made by mixing iron sulphate with citric acid powder to replace the synthetic iron chelate (EDTA or DTPA) commonly used in traditional hydroponics to ensure ongoing iron availability. Growers often need to blend two or more organic liquid fertilizers to provide sufficient and balanced nutrient levels for most hydroponic crops.
An organic base product (often a concentrated fish emulsion base or similar) blended with organic liquid calcium is a good place to start. An organic nitrogen product may be required later on. Growers should aim to use products that have been designed for soilless systems wherever possible.
The main difficulty with running organic systems is obtaining sufficient amounts of nitrogen and calcium, which are required in large amounts by plants. Organic systems rely on microbes in the root zone to convert organic compounds into plant-available nitrogen sources and sometimes this process does not occur fast enough for uptake.
Calcium is difficult to obtain rapidly from organic nutrients as it relies on the breaking down of calcium-containing materials such as limestone. Growers who have hard water sources containing naturally occurring calcium have a major advantage in this case because this form of calcium is readily available for plant uptake.
It is possible to make an organic nutrient solution completely from raw materials rather than relying on commercially bottled products. While liquid bio-digesters that turn raw organic materials into usable plant nutrients have been used by some growers, the more reliable method for smaller systems is vermiculture (worm farming).
Vermiculture is a highly efficient way of processing high-mineral raw materials, such as manures, limestone, blood and bone, fish meal, seaweed meal, guano and others, into usable, mineralized hydroponic nutrient solutions that also provide the benefits of a diverse population of beneficial microbes. It’s easy to make your own worm castings!
One of the main problems with organic nutrients is concentration. Most organic liquid products are not as concentrated as standard, salt-based fertilizer formulations, so plants may become weak, stretched and more prone to disease.
Growers need to be aware of what underfed plants look like and boost nutrient concentrations as soon as these conditions are detected. Nutrient additives and boosters, such as humic and fulvic acid, are a good addition to organic systems as they help facilitate nutrient uptake and are generally considered organic.
Before you jump on the “organic” train, check out another video blog of mine on Conventional vs. Organic Hydroponics.
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Conclusion – How to Make Organic Liquid Fertilizer for a Hydroponics System
Frankly, plants only use chemical nutrients. If these are found in rotting vegetation or worm castings then the plant takes the required chemical nutrients from these addendums in order to grow OR they can take it from a bottle that is made up of the exact nutrients that the plant needs. The trick in making your own organic fertilizer is to get all of the macronutrients (NPK) in proper proportion while also ensuring all of the micronutrients are present as well. This can take a fair bit of trial and error but some feel it is worth-while.
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