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Old 05-09-2017, 09:18 PM #1
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Article on Buffering Coco Coir

I thought this was a good read on coco coir.

https://hortamericas.blogspot.com/201...ry-if-its.html

Quote:

JUL
27
Buffering coir not necessary if it's processed properly

Proper processing of coir to lower its natural high salts level should eliminate the need to buffer it with calcium nitrate.

By David Kuack

Coir has become a major component of both greenhouse vegetable and container crop production. It can be used by itself, for instance in grow bags, slabs and propagation cubes, or it can be used in growing mixes with other components like sphagnum peat, perlite and bark.

Coconuts, which are produced by coconut palms (Cocos nucifera), consist of husks that surround the nuts. The nuts are consumed as food and the husks are used to produce various types of coir growing substrates, including chips, chunks and peat. Coir peat is a by-product of the husk fibers that are used to fill cushions and car seats.

Naturally high in salts
Dr. Hugh Poole, international agricultural consultant, said coconut coir is initially high in sodium, potassium and chloride salts.

“Where the coconut coir originates from can have an impact on the salt levels,” Poole said. “Coconut palms produced inland away from the ocean may not accumulate as much sodium, potassium and chloride, but growers should assume that all coconuts will have high salt levels.

“These salts are relatively soluble and are not totally bound by the coir so they are easily leached. Most coir producers use rain water for most of the year to remove the salts. If the EC (electrical conductivity) level is below 1.0 milliSiemens per centimeter (mS/cm), growers should not have to leach the coir. In most cases, the coir producers have already leached the coir for the growers. It should be ready to use. If the salts level is high, then the coir producer has not done its job. A producer should be able to provide growers with the coir’s EC value, its pH value and other information, including percent moisture, as well.”


Coir producers should be able to provide growers
with the coir’s EC value, its pH value and other
information, including percent moisture.

Photos courtesy of Riococo



Poole advises growers using coir to test for soluble salts before it is combined with other mix components and before any plants are placed in the coir.

“If the level of salts is low, then a grower doesn’t need to worry about sodium, potassium and chloride,” he said. “Many growers say the soluble salts level should be less than 1.0 mS/cm. Others say the salts level should be less than 0.5 mS/cm. It really comes down to how the coir is going to be used. If Ellepots are going to be filled with coco peat for young seedling production, then the soluble salts level should be around 0.5 mS/cm. If the coco peat is being blended with sphagnum peat, perlite or some other growing mix components and plants are being transplanted into containers, the coir soluble salts level can be higher. I have seen EC values as high 3-6 mS/cm. In these instances, unless the coir is being diluted with a lot of other mix components, growers would certainly want to leach the coir before it is used.”

Poole said growers who ask their suppliers for a low EC coir is similar to asking for a low EC peat moss or compost.

“If growers have to deal with a growing mix component with an EC level that is always bouncing around, it is going to be very challenging for those growers from crop to crop and from year to year,” he said.

To buffer or not to buffer
Poole said some growers are asking suppliers to buffer their coir with calcium nitrate.

“These growers are thinking that the cation exchange sites are loaded with potassium and sodium ions and if the coir isn’t buffered with calcium nitrate then their crops may suffer a calcium or magnesium deficiency,” he said. “These types of deficiency problems are more commonly encountered with hydroponic systems. If a substrate is being used, then this usually isn’t a concern.

“Most of the coir’s exchange sites are tied up with sodium and potassium. These ions are readily replaced by calcium. If calcium is applied, much of that calcium is going to be tied up in the exchange capacity taking out sodium and potassium. Therefore calcium is not in the substrate solution for utilization by the plants. There is a lag before the cation exchange capacity can be fully charged with calcium, potassium and magnesium. If a grower isn’t cognizant of this lag and doesn’t address it, it can cause deficiency problems. When 50 ppm calcium is incorporated in the fertilizer solution, the leachate may only contain 10 ppm calcium. Not that the plants utilized the other 40 ppm. Much of that 40 ppm was tied up at the exchange sites and will be available later.”

Avoiding deficiency problems
Poole said if the coir’s EC level is initially low and growers apply a Cal-Mag fertilizer at the beginning of a crop, there shouldn’t be deficiency problems. He said growers using reverse osmosis water, in which there is no calcium or magnesium, should make adjustments in fertility especially if they are producing a fast growing crop. Although no deficiency problems might occur, Poole said growers should be diligent in monitoring fertility levels.

“Once the cation exchange sites are charged with calcium and magnesium, then there is free exchange and there shouldn’t be any problems,” he said. “In the first two to four weeks, growers should probably start out with higher calcium and magnesium levels if they’re growing with coir. They should try to favor calcium and magnesium absorption at the exchange sites. This is a precautionary step.”


If the coir’s EC level is initially low and growers
apply a Cal-Mag fertilizer at the beginning of a
crop, there shouldn’t be deficiency problems.



Poole said growers, who are using coir and are planning to use a 20-10-20 fertilizer, need to be aware that this fertilizer does not contain any calcium, magnesium or sulfur.

“The growers are going to have to add these nutrients,” he said. “If growers are using coir they have to recognize that the exchange sites need to be filled or charged with calcium and magnesium before there starts to be a free exchange of nutrients back and forth.

“With coir where the exchange sites are filled with sodium and potassium, the only way of removing these ions is by reducing them with leaching with water or by overcompensating with calcium and magnesium.”

Poole said initially, the natural salts found in coir must be leached with water. The remaining salts will be exchanged with calcium and magnesium by a buffering treatment or with elevated levels in the fertility program. He said buffering is not an option for organic growers.

“If coir is washed well and its EC is below 0.5 mS/cm or lower, then the coir shouldn’t have to be buffered for most crops. If calcium nitrate is used to buffer the coir, magnesium has to be provided as well.”

Poole recommends growers should review both their water analysis and their fertilizer analysis to know what nutrients they are applying and to confirm nutrient levels.

“Young plants and bare-root plants are more sensitive to high salts than to short-term nutrient imbalances,” he said. Long-term crops should be monitored using tissue analyses to optimize plant nutrition and crop productivity.
For more: Hugh Poole, FloraSynergy; (864) 359-7090; hapoole@Interact2Day.com.

David Kuack is a freelance technical writer in Fort Worth, Texas; dkuack@gmail.com.

Visit our corporate website at https://www.hortamericas.com
Posted 27th July 2015 by Chris Higgins
Labels: Buffering Cal-Mag Fertilizer Calcium Calcium Nitrate Cation Exchange Capacity Chloride Coco Peat Coir EC Electrical Conduictivity Magnesium Potassium Sodium Soluble Salts
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Old 05-14-2017, 05:53 PM #2
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Good one especially if your using unbuffered cheap bricks as ive run lots and had to leach the be geez out of them. Screw ed up some nice plants till I figured it out. Save new growers plants. B
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Old 05-14-2017, 06:12 PM #3
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That is a very accurate article.
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Old 05-15-2017, 04:25 PM #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buddler View Post
Good one especially if your using unbuffered cheap bricks as ive run lots and had to leach the be geez out of them. Screw ed up some nice plants till I figured it out. Save new growers plants. B

I hear ya. I switched to growing in coco coir back in 2004. Wish I had understood this part of growing in coco back then.

“Most of the coir’s exchange sites are tied up with sodium and potassium. These ions are readily replaced by calcium. If calcium is applied, much of that calcium is going to be tied up in the exchange capacity taking out sodium and potassium. Therefore calcium is not in the substrate solution for utilization by the plants. There is a lag before the cation exchange capacity can be fully charged with calcium, potassium and magnesium. If a grower isn’t cognizant of this lag and doesn’t address it, it can cause deficiency problems. When 50 ppm calcium is incorporated in the fertilizer solution, the leachate may only contain 10 ppm calcium. Not that the plants utilized the other 40 ppm. Much of that 40 ppm was tied up at the exchange sites and will be available later.”
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Old 07-12-2017, 07:49 PM #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stay Gel^N 247 View Post
That is a very accurate article.
Yes it most certainly is. The folks at Riococo know whats up for sure. The coco peat substrates they produce are used in greenhouses all over the planet. Myself...I use Canna Brick Coco Coir. 4x10 liter bricks for 11 bucks a package. Processed and buffered to a high quality standard at 0.6 EC and pH to 6.0. All I do is add 0.2 EC and 6.0 Ph adjusted warm tap water to expand and prep for transplanting. Using 2 and 3 gallon fabric or plastic grow bags. I fertigate with Jacks Hudroponic Fertilizer with Calcium Nitrate and Magnesium Sulfate. 3 grams. 2 grams. & 1 gram respectively to a gallon of that tap water. I also use small amounts of fulvic acid and potassium silicate as my only additives. I use this from a well rooted cutting all the way through until harvest. I reuse my coco peat up to 3 times. I tend to shy away from hydroponic hobby shops these days...saving a ton of money doing so. I use to believe in all them bottles and gadgets from the indoor grow stores and now I dont. With the above methods I get the same or even better results crop after crop and I got alot more money in my wallet.
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Old 07-18-2017, 11:46 PM #6
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FWIW and this may helpful to someone in the future; I am using Growstone GS-4 and my plants responded as if the coco in the mix was buffered before bagging.
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Old 02-15-2019, 02:01 AM #7
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Bump.

Good read on coco coir. ^^^^
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Old 02-15-2019, 04:14 AM #8
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Hello All, Im new to coco and am just wrapping up my first run with coco coir and am gearing up for second. There were some bumps and bruises in the beginnimg but I think I got the hang of it. I use cheap bricks. What I did is rinse coco until the EC is equal to my tap (.1 EC)or very close and then wring coco out and then saturate coco coir with a 1/4 strength nutrient solution and 20ml/gallon of water of calimagic. After a couple hours I repeat this "charge" process and let it sit overnight. On this from that I'm wrapping up right now I only dod the "charge" part once and let it sit overnight. I'm hoping that implementing this second "charge" will indeed fill the cation exchange and provide a smooth transition while up potting and the transition to flower.
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Old 02-15-2019, 04:30 AM #9
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here are some pics of this past run in coco coir. Im pretty excited about the results.
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Old 02-17-2019, 06:01 PM #10
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This is an interesting read!

https://manicbotanix.com/hydroponic-...trate-science/
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