Horticulture is an inherent human activity that allows us to evolve and survive as a species. From thousands of years of experience, starting life from all types of soils, we have to add the enormous advances and developments that have been introduced in the last 20 years, all which have allowed us to optimize the quality of what we grow. One fundamental part of what we’ve learned is our comprehension of the importance of the quality of water and how components such as EC (electroconductivity) and chlorine can affect our crops.
No grower, from the most tradtional to the most technical, forgets the importance that water has on their plants. We need to keep in mind that water not only has the most weight in our plants, but it’s also the main medium through which we can introduce, inadvertently, foreign substances that can weaken our plants and lower the quality and quantity of our yields. Even basics like taste and nutritional value of fruits can be changed.
What are you giving your plants to drink?
When you water your plants with regular tap water, there’s also a series of chemicals, depending on your region, that can be introduced in varying concentrations. In areas of hard water, there can be an abundance of calcium, magnesium, lime scale, potassium and sulfates. These salts will increase the electro-conductivity (EC). In areas with soft water, though there won’t be excessive salts, you will almost always find the presence of chlorine.
Why should we lower the EC and eliminate chlorine from our water?
The following are 5 reasons why it is important to lower the EC and eliminate chlorine from the water we use for our plants and gardens.
- Higher quantity of nutrients y higher nutritional efficiency:
The electro-conductivity (EC) measurement gives us a good estimate of the quantity of dissolved salts in the water. Each plant can only take in a limited concentration of salts, in EC value of between 1,4 and 2,2 ms/cm, depending on the type and phase of development. This is due to their roots capacity for absorption. If we start by giving our plants a water with 1,0 ms/cm, then the quantity of nutrients we can thereby safely give them is only 0,4 to 1,2 ms/cm, as the maximum. On the other hand, if we start with a water with very low EC, then we can give our plants a greatly superior quantity of nutrients. Also, if we give our plants a pure water to start, then they will not inadvertently absorb undesireable elements (chemicals), which of course will allow us to achieve 100% efficiency in the nutrients and ferilizers we administer.
2. By lower the EC we maintain a much healthier root system
Hard waters contain a high concentration of mineral salts that can produce lime scale and incrust and block plants roots, reducing their capacity of absorption and affecting the nutrition of the plants. In fact, these mineral salts, such as lime scale, sodium and magnesium among others, together with the nutrients that we add to our plants, can cause a saturation of the roots and an effect known as “nutrient lock out”.
This effect is the incapacity of the plant to continue to absorb any more nutrients, which of course can kill the plants, if not remedied. By reducing the EC of the water we can improve the health of our plants roots, by avoiding obstructruction of the root system and avoiding “nutrient lockout”. The root system will be able to absorb the necessary nutrients with maximum effeciency.
3. Protection of microorganisms in soils and extracts
Most organic soils contain beneficial microorganisms that collaborate in a plants health, maintaining clean roots systems so that they can use their complete capacity of absorption for nutrition or in the case of mycorrhiza, even increase the capacity. These microorganisms also protect plants against invasions of molds and pathogens. When we use regular tap water for our plants, we are killing off these beneficial mircroorganisms. The reason; Chlorine.
Chlorine is a chemical disinfectant used by municipalities to guarantee potable water, by killing off any bacterias that may be present, while also impeding the proliferation of algae or mushrooms inside of the distribution pipes and storage tanks. But chlorine isn’t selective, and as a disinfectant it eliminates all microorganisms, even the beneficial ones. So, this is another reason why we should never use water straight from the tap, especially if we cultivate with beneficial microorganisms or biofertilizers.
4. Greater general growing control, less problems. By lowering the EC in our water we achieve a greater total control in our cultivation methods. For example, with a lower concentration of salts we’ll have a more balanced pH, optimal for our plants. Also, with a purer water, we will be able to detect the origen of any problems that arise with more precisión, since we will already have eliminated a series of unknown variables that come with water straight from the tap. We’ll know exactly what type and what quantity of nutrients our plants are receiving
5. Higher quality production and yield for our gardens.
By reducing the EC and eliminating chlorine we’ll have a higher quality and larger yield in our plants. When you think about, watering your plants with water that has unknown composition, you are incorportating an unknown quantity of substances, that will end up in your plants, fruits and vegetables. In general, you are affecting the quality of your product; it’s taste, aroma and nutritional value, while also reducing the quantity of your yield. Your plants should be able to take 100% advantage of the nutrients that you supply, without having to worry about the additional components of a high EC water. Your plants should be able to benefit from the good microorganisms that you add to them, without adding chlorinated water that will kill them off.
In summary, good water quality is the foundation on which a great harvest is built. Quality water is fundamental and has direct effects upon the health and quality of your plants and the yield in your gardens. When you water your plants, you need to ask yourself; What am I really giving them? Is it a water that I would like to drink myself? If not, what can I do about it?
At GrowMax Water we are experts in Water Filtration Systems for Hydroponics and Gardening. To help improve your water quality or your installations, we offer you a range of “Kits”.
GrowMax Water filtration systems eliminate up to 99% of chlorine from water, while the RO systems, in addition to eliminating chlorine, also help you to lower the EC (up to 95%) and stabilize the pH. In addition you can also complement your RO systems to get ultra pure, 000ppm water by adding our De-Ionization Filter Kit. We also offer a Float Valve Kit, to avoid water overflow of your holding tank water, a UV Lamp to kill viruses and bacteria from well water, and RO Pump Kits to get more inlet water pressure, to boost production and quality.
All accessories have been designed to complement the GrowMax Water units to get you the best quality water and satisfy your growing needs.
I need more inlet water pressure for my RO unit: RO Pump Kit
The inlet water pressure is the most important factor for good operation of a reverse osmosis system. So, once you have your RO system installed, you need to check the pressure gauge to see the inlet water pressure.
According to all reverse osmosis membrane manufacturers the mínimum inlet pressure needed for a working production is 3kg/cm2 or 45psi.
All membrane manufacturers base their production calculations on 60 psi (4,3 kg/cm2) and advise that the mínimum pressure neccesary for a good operation is 45 psi (3kg/cm2) for an RO unit. That’s why with a good strong inlet pressure, RO units will produce a good quantity and good quality water, while also sending less water to drain. With a low inlet water pressure, the RO unit will not produce a good quantity and quality of water, also the drain will increase.
To avoid these problems, if after installing your RO unit the pressure gauge is under the minimum requirement (40 psi – 3 kg/cm2), you should install the RO Pump Kit for Power Grow 500 and Maxquarium 000 PPM, or the High Flow RO Pump Kit for the Mega Grow 1000 unit. These kits will increase the inlet water pressure for the membrane work in good conditions, and both include all necessary for their easy installation.
I want Ultra Pure water with any RO water system: De-Ionization Filter Kit
Using a RO system, you lower the EC from the water up to 95%, which means eliminating almost all the salts and heavy metals dissolved in the water. But if you would like an ultra pure water, of 000 ppm and 0,00 EC, then you must use a De-Ionization filter, installed after the RO.
Our Maxquarium 000 PPM reverse osmosis unit, already includes a de-ionization filter, however we also offer the possibility of installing a de-ionization filter kit after any reverse osmosis system, to achieve ultra pure water. The De-ionization Filter Kit is available in 10” and 20”, according to the flow of water you need.
The De-ionization filter contain both anion and cation resins that will eliminate 100% of the remaining salts, having already passed through the reverse osmosis membrane. This filter is replaceable and it’s recommended to change it when your EC meter shows higher levels than 0,00.
I want to avoid water overflow when I fill my holding tank: Float Valve Kit
Maybe on more than one occasion you have forgotten about the water as you were filling your tanks…. and the water overflows. This is a typical situation that has happened to more than one of us.
But you can avoid this using the GrowMax Water Float Valve Kit. This will stop the production of the Filter or RO unit, when the water reaches the Float Valve height in the tank. Thus, water overflow as well as water waste is also prevented.
I want to kill viruses and bacteria from well water: UV lamp Kit
GrowMax Water RO systems eliminate Chlorine, sediment and dissolved salts from water, providing pure and clean water. But if you are using water from an underground well, it’s very probable that this water also contains viruses and bacteria, and a good way to eliminate them is with the UV Lamp Kit.
UV lamps kill up to 99,99% viruses and bacteria from water, which especially live in well water or tanks with rain water accumulation. These bacteria can do damage to your plants, as well as doing damage to the RO membrane, causing it to fail. If you are a possible contaminated water, you should install the UV Lamp Kit before the RO system.
I need more tubing for my installation: Tubing Kit
All GrowMax Water systems include a complete installation kit with a 3 meters of feed water tubing, 3 meters of product water tubing and 3 meters drain tubing.
However, some installations may require more meters of tubing, as the tap water connection or the pure water tank is far from the installed unit, or simply because the drain is an extra few meters away. For these cases we offer separate Tubing Kits – containing 10m in each.
Now you know the GrowMax Water accessories. Ask for them in your local Hydro Store and Grow Shop or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We know that using reverse osmosis systems we lower the EC from water and get healthier plants and bigger productions, among other benefits. But did you know that reverse osmosis besides to protect your plants also helps your humidifier to works better and for a longer time?
Reverse osmosis and the humidifier
Humidifier helps to regulate humidity in the indoor growing. It works adding water to the tank, which then escapes as steam, humidifying the air and preventing withered plants and diseased plants due to the dry environment.
GrowMax Water reverse osmosis systems lower EC and eliminate up to 95% of salts and heavy metals from water, and also eliminate up to 99% of chlorine. The result is a quality water, pure and free of salts and chemicals, perfect for using with your humidifier and your plants for some reasons.
Reasons to use reverse osmosis with the humidifier
1. Prevent precipitated limescale inside the humidifier’s tank
As hard water cause precipitated limescale in our water installation as well as in bathrooms, or washingmachine, the same situation will occurs in the humidifier’s tank using hard water. Limescale will be accumulated inside the tank, interfering in the way the humidifier works, producing less steam and increasing it maintenance.
If we use reverse osmosis water to fulfill the tank, we ensure a better maintenance of the humidifier and a better steam up capacity, increasing the humidifier’s usable life, because the precipitated limescale inside it will disappear.
2.Get quality water steam
Using water free of salts, (with a lower EC) to fulfill the humidifier’s tank, we avoid limescale precipitations, but also we ensure that we get a quality water steam, so the result will be a quality environmental humidity too.
3.Protect our plants
Providing a quality water steam, we avoid possible problems in the plants leaves, since they will be save from limescale effects and other dissolved salts into the water. Also we protect plants roots, which won’t be blocked by precipitated limescale.
Keeping in mind these three reasons, our range of reverse osmosis systems will be the best ally for your humidifier, because they will help you to take care of your plants with the best water quality possible.
Other uses of reverse osmosis
In addition to use reverse osmosis water with the humidifier, it’s also recommended to use it if there is a water softener installed. These devices don’t eliminate calcium and magnesium, but covert them in sodium, sometimes in toxic levels. If sodium exceeds the 50 ppm, plants can’t get their genetical potential.
GROW IT TO THE MAX WITH GROWMAX WATER!
We will raffle off on Facebook a water filtration system ECO GROW 240 L/h to irrigate your plants without Chlorine, Sediment, dirt, rust, oxidation Herbicides and Pesticides and without Volatile Organic Contaminants. Thus, you will protect the plants roots from chlorine, which burn them, and the beneficial microorganisms that live in your soils.
Visit our Facebook Fan Page GrowMax Water, like us and share the image of the raffle. You will enter in the contest to win a water filtration system ECO GROW 240 L/h to discover the benefits of irrigating with water free of chemicals.
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Plants, like humans, need a healthy feeding, according on the genetics and depending on the growing stage. Calcium and magnesium are two of the indispensable nutrients in their diet, as important as phosphorus, iron, nitrogen, potassium, and manganese, in the right amounts. A lack of this essential nutrients can cause problems in the plants while they are growing and we get bad final results.
Knowing some of the symptoms of a lack of basic nutrients in plants, we can control better the plants growth and we will ensure that they have the right amounts of food.However, it is important to distinguish between the macronutrients, that are absorbed in big amounts, and the micronutrients, which are also necessary for plants nutrition, but only in small amounts (high levels of this nutrients can damage them).
Previously in other post, we talked about the importance of calcium and magnesium in plants. Today we are going to talk about the skills of the rest of essential nutrients, starting with the macro-nutrients, the ones plants need in big quantities:
It’s an essential nutrient, because it is one of the necessary elements for carrying the energy through the plant. Phosphorus helps to build cells, DNA, proteins and enzymes. The higher concentrations of phosphorus are in the plants roots, the growth peaks and the vascular tissue, what it means, in the develop parts of the plant.
In young plants, the presence of phosphorus is indispensable for a good growth, because in the first quarter of plants life is when more phosphours they absorb.
When there is a lack of phosphorus: the plant stops growing and the branches development slow down; also it turns in a dark green color. Finally, if the time goes by and we don’t fix the lack of phosphorus, can appear necrosis in the oldest leaves and deformation.
It’s one of the most important nutrients that the plants need, and an essential part of proteins, chlorophyll, vitamins, hormones and DNA. Nitrogen is a component of the enzymes, so it has an active role in the plant metabolism, promoting their growth. Some positive effects of nitrogen in the plants are bigger leaves, more quantity of branches and a longer growing season.
But a lack of nitrogen can cause the opposite effects. A lack of this nutrient delay synthesis protein, and the plant have to broke its own proteins to keep satisfaying its needs. When this happens, it produces a surplus of carbohydrates due to the proteins breakdown. That’s why leaves stems and plant stem turn into purpura color.
Due to the lack of nitrogen, also appears with time a chlorophyll breakdown, turning green color of the leaves into yellow or whitish green, till they finally wither and fall down.
A lack of nitrogen also can affect the plants roots. If there is a lack of nitrogen during the early stage of growing, the whole plant is damaged and it doesn’t grow enough (the plants organs don’t grow right, stooping general growth). If it happens in advanced age, effects aren’t so devastating as when the plant is younger.
Potassium is present around the whole plant and it’s essential to carry the water through all the plant structure. It’s also indispensable for opening and closing stomata and get strength and quality to the plant.
When there is a lack of potassium there is an evaporation reduction. When this happens, the leaves temperature increase and cells burn, mainly in the edge of the leaves.A lack of potassium makes that leaves tips show a grey edge, which then turn into rust-colored, till leaves fall off. Another symptom are yellow leaves from the edges to the leaves nerves, and brow and rust-colored spots of died tissue.
An overload of salt (sodium) around the plants roots can cause the lack of potassium. That’s known as a Nutrient Lockout, when plant roots are blocked and they can’t absorb the rest of nutrients they need.
In the other hand, we have micronutrients. Despite being needed in less amounts by the plants, they are also essential for they growth and healthy.
It’s a common nutrient in the soils but in large amounts, could be toxic for plants, so it’s a micronutrient. Furthermore, iron is more difficult to absorb than other nutrients because usually it’s present in the soil as an insoluble component. There are only few soils where iron is available for plants in the necessary form.
The absorption of iron by plants greatly depends on the pH. Normally, acid soils have enough iron available for plants. Some symptoms of a lack of iron: leaves that continuously turn into yellow, or even into white; leaves with necrosis and plants that stop growing.
Manganese is found in high concentrations in the meristem (the most active part in plants), and to a lesser extent, in plants roots and stems. It’s an essential trace element for plants, which turn on enzymatic actions, as for example, the water division during photosynthesis or the cell membranes formation.
This nutrient is absorbed by plants through the roots and goes across the whole plant haltingly, but easier than other nutrients, like iron or calcium, less soluble.
A lack of manganese cause physiological changes in plants: the proteins production decrease, minimizing the plant capability for absorbing nitrates. When this happens, the plants growth is delayed and appear symptoms in the leaves, similar to the symptoms of the lack of iron or magnesium.
But in the lack of manganese cases, yellow spots are between lateral nerves, and the rest of the leaf keeps its green color. No whitening. So this must not be confused with the lack of iron, which turn yellow al the leaf.
High levels of pH can make a lack of manganese, because with a high Ph, manganese becomes manganese dioxide, which can’t be absorbed by the plant.
Reverse osmosis to prevent the lack and the excess of nutrients
There are a lot of fertilizer products and nutritional supplements to feed our plants: compost products, fluid products or even solid. Adding these products, we give all the essential nutrients to the plants, according to their needs in each growing stage, to prevent the symptoms and problems explained above.
But in advance of adding these nutritional supplements to the irrigation water, it’s very important to control the EC of water. In such way, we will know the amount of salts and minerals already dissolved in our tap water. However, we can’t control the exact amount of each mineral and salts in water only with an EC meter. So if we add to this water high amounts of calcium, for example, and the water already have a lot of calcium (hard water) we’ll cause a Nutrient Lockout in the roots. Or we can cause the opposite situation if the water we are using have low levels of calcium.
Using reverse osmosis water, we lower EC up to 95% and get water free of salts and minerals. We achieve the perfect balance between water and the right amounts of nutrients for feeding our plants. How? We know that plants can receive an EC of up to 1,4 to 2,2, according to its genetics and depending on the growing stage. The higher the EC level is, less nutrients we can give to our plants. So if we start with an EC in the water of only 0,1 or 0,2, then we will be able to add much more nutrients.
Essential nutrients and pure water
Most exigent growers prefer to use directly ultra pure water (000 ppm), to be sure that all the nutrients they give to the plants are exactly from the nutrients solutions and supplements, but not from water. And for that, they use reverse osmosis systems like Maxquarium 000PPM, which has been designed for hydroponics and also for aquariums industry, where they need the most pure water, and that produces up to 20L/ h of pure water.
GrowMax Water also offers the de-ionization filter Kit to achieve ultra pure water (000 ppm). This is an available accessory to install in all reverse osmosis systems.
Using ultra pure water, growers only have to add the amount of nutrients they want to the water with their nutrient supplement, without worry about the EC of the water they will use.
To sum up, using reverse osmosis together with nutrient supplements, we can prevent growth and nutritive disorders mentioned above. We must keep in mind the right amounts of nutrients our plants need, according to their growing stage and features, and control their growing.
Grow it to the Max with GrowMax Water!
In this article we would like to help you to understand how a reverse osmosis membrane works. The following information is valid for all reverse osmosis membranes, supplied by GrowMax Water or other manufacturers.
A reverse osmosis membrane is made of different polyamide layers through which tap water is filtered. With this process, we obtain a water with a lower EC (with a low salt level) and free of bacteria and virus. The pores of the polyamide layers are able to filter up to 0,0001 microns.
Production specifications of the reverse osmosis membranes
The specification is made by the Membrane Manufacturers and is based on the following parameters:
1 – Water Temperature: 25º C
2 – Water Pressure: 60 psi (4.3 kg/cm3
3 – TDS (Total Dissolved Solids): 500 ppm (0.7 EC)
Therefore the production will increase or decrease according to variations in the above water conditions. Example:
-Water production will decrease by 3.6% for each degree below 25º C. So, if your water temperature is 15ºC, then; 10º (less) x 3.6% = 36% decrease. Now, 20 L/h can be about 13 L/h.
-If the temperature is even lower, let’s say 10ºC, then: 15º (less) x 3.6% = 54% decrease. 20 L/h can now be as low as 9 L/h.
-Also, at the same time if the inlet pressure is lower than 60 psi (4,3 kg) then your production will also decrease.
-Also if the TDS is higher than 500 ppm (EC higher than 0.7), then again, you will have another lower production rate. The higher the EC, more inlet water pressure is needed.
How long will a membrane last?
We cannot know exactly how long a reverse osmosis membrane will last, because it depends on three factors:
1- The quality of the water
2- The amount of water passing thru
3- The amount of waste water.
For example, the higher the EC, the worse is the quality water filtered, means the membrane can sooner be incrusted with salts. The higher the amount of water filtered, the less is the life of the membrane, and the same happens because of the amount of waste water, that is to say, the less waste water amount the sooner the membrane will be full of salts. This last point is very important, so we will explain it in more detail below.
The waste water in RO systems
All the reverse osmosis systems must send waste water to the drain. Why? The different polyamide layers of the membrane retain the salts from the water, but that portion of the water doesn’t go to the drain needs to be flushed out of the membrane, so that the membrane doesn’t become incrusted with those salts.
GrowMax has designed its reverse osmosis systems for the Hydroponic and Gardening markets. Because we are not using pressurized holding tanks, different from residential RO units, we have designed our units to REJECT MUCH LESS water than others conventional units.
Most RO systems are designed to reject 4:1, 5:1, 6:1 or more. This means for each liter of water produced, 4, 5 or 6 times of the amount of water is needed and send it to the drain (or garden). GrowMax units are designed to reject only 2:1. This saves a lot of water.
However, the downside to this design is that if the TDS or EC is very high, more than 500 ppm (> 0.7 EC) then the lifespan of the reverse osmosis membrane can be diminished.
GrowMax Water reverse osmosis systems use 150 GPD (Gallon per Day) membranes for the POWER GROW, MEGA GROW and MAXQUARIUM.
This is the highest production membrane currently available in this size and configuration, without using much higher cost membranes that require much higher inlet pressures, pumps and motors.
Reverse osmosmis membrane diagram:
Accessories to improve the reverse osmosis membrane
GrowMax offers solutions to improve your installation or help in the case of adverse water conditions. These solutions are different accessories that will help you to boost the membrane production:
– If your inlet water pressure is low (less than 40psi/3 kg), you have to install a GrowMax Water Booster Pump to your RO system. This will increase the water pressure to a 4-5 kg constant inlet water pressure. We have a Booster Pump Kit valid for use with POWER GROW and MAXQUARIUM and also a High Flow Booster Pump Kit, valid for use with the MEGA GROW.
– In case your water has a high EC level, the membrane can be saturated and clogged sooner. You can change out the FLOW RESTRICTOR in your unit, to a larger flow restrictor, to allow for more water rejection to the drain, thus helping to prolong the life of your membrane.
POWER GROW 400ml 550ml (foto)
MEGA GROW 550 ml 800ml (foto)
MAXQUARIUM 400 ml 550ml (foto)
Learn more about GrowMax Water Reverse Osmosis Systems designed for hydroponics and gardening.