3 Key Points for Using EON Nutrient Line with Coco Substrates
Today, I want to discuss three crucial factors to consider when using our carbon-based fertilizers, EON, with coco substrates. By understanding these points, you’ll be able to maximize your crop’s potential with our products.
- “Dry Backs” and Watering Habits
The term “dry back” refers to the period between irrigation events when the substrate starts to dry out. Short dry backs occur during the ramp-up and maintenance phases throughout the day, while long dry backs, known as “overnight dry backs,” happen overnight.
Maintaining the right moisture content in the coco substrate is crucial to ensure constant nutrient access for the plants. Our main source of calcium, micronized calcium carbonate, contains carbonate molecules that raise the pH over time. As the coco substrate dries, carbonates can convert to bicarbonates, raising the pH and carrying away essential cations like calcium.
To avoid this issue, it’s essential to keep the moisture content around 90-95% to promote proper oxygenation in the root zone without subjecting the plants to unnecessary drought stress. In short, don’t let the coco substrate become too dry as it may deplete essential cations like calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
- pH Drift and Stabilization
If your pH level drifts upward, we recommend using our product pHlush, specifically designed to break apart carbonates and bicarbonates. By doing so, it increases the availability of calcium by five times. The combination of calcium carbonate and carboxylic acids in pHlush helps balance the substrate’s pH effectively.
As carbonates gradually raise the pH, the carboxylic acids in pHlush break them apart, resulting in the release of CO2 and off-gassing in the reservoir. This process neutralizes the rising pH and begins adjusting it downward to the optimal range for maximum plant uptake.
By incorporating pHlush in each nutrient feed, you can stabilize the pH and electrical conductivity (EC) of the root zone while preventing nutrient bonding in the reservoir, ensuring availability for plant uptake. Remember that pHlush acts as a buffering agent, not just a pH down solution. It lowers the pH and continues to buffer it down over time, similar to how calcium carbonate buffers alkalinity in the substrate.
- Measuring EC and Nutrition
Due to the characteristics of carbon-based molecules, not all the plant nutrition can be accurately measured by electrical conductivity (EC) alone. Total dissolved solid (TDS) tools like EC/PPM meters may not provide a complete picture. TDS meters struggle to measure protein nitrogen effectively, and some nutrients, such as rock phosphate, may not be entirely available for EC measurements initially but will become available over time.
This doesn’t mean you can’t use EC as a reference for nutrient mixing. Just keep in mind that the total amount of nutrition in the nutrient mixture goes beyond what is evident. Calculating runoff will not work effectively due to the carbon content, rock phosphate residue, and calcium carbonate present in our products. For accurate EC and pH readings in the medium, consider either performing a slurry test by combining equal parts substrate (2 inches down) with water and measuring it with an EC and pH meter, or using a soil pH and EC probe to get direct readings from the medium.
The best time to measure EC and pH in the substrate is when it is slightly moist but not wet, typically a while after an irrigation event. Aim to measure before the next watering cycle, usually around 12-18 hours after watering (if using 5-gallon pots).
In summary, protein nitrogen requires higher amounts of nitrogen than you may initially think since we don’t use nitrates. Additionally, our rock phosphate source necessitates loading up on phosphorus at specific stages and times. Inert substrates also demand more potassium (K) to keep up with the plants’ growth rates.