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Old 04-01-2006, 09:12 AM #11
BigToke
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How To Break the Cycle!!!
  • Add the beneficial bacterium organisms into the nutrient solution. Donít add easy-to-use foods which encourage the bacteria to grow rapidly, so no sugars, no simple protein, no fish emulsion. While beneficial bacterium are needed to immobilize nutrients. The plant produces exudates to grow beneficial bacterium around the root zone, and no further growth substrates are needed.
  • Plants need aerobic microorganisms around their roots to compete with disease-causing organisms, to help the plant take-up nutrients, and to decompose toxic materials that might harm the roots.
  • Small amounts of humic acids, fulvic acids, kelp, and possibly small amounts of fish hydrolysate could be added. These foods help the beneficial bacterium to be more active, and keeps bad bacteria from growing rapidly and taking up oxygen too rapidly. Rapidly growing microorganisms use up oxygen, and release carbon dioxide. By monitoring the nutrient solution for oxygen, carbon dioxide, or for microbial activity, you can find out if the solution has been compromised by too much microbial growth before the problem gets too bad.
  • It is important to prevent anaerobic conditions in the root system, because plants are very sensitive to certain anaerobic metabolites, such as alcohol. Any kind of alcohol. We tend to think about ethanol as being the only kind of alcohol, but there are many, many other kinds of alcohols, any of which can harm plants. The phenols, terpenes, tannins, ketones, aldehydes, and organic acids produced by anaerobic organisms can also harm roots. To say nothing of the loss of N, S, and P in anaerobic conditions. With the use of beneficial bacterium, you can keep these anaerobic conditions from acering.
  • Can some bad guys grow in aerobic conditions? Only if the beneficial bacterium arenít active and growing. Hint: If your living spaceís are not large enough to sustain a healthy beneficial bacterium colony, most likely they will be over come with a bad case of bad bacteria and lead to rot root if not treated soon, THE NUMBER ONE RESAN for slow beneficial bacterium growth is a lack of oxygen and it slows down the good guys and helps the bad guys have the run of the root system.
  • Care needs to be taken to make sure the roots are not putting out so much simple food to grow beneficial bacterium and fungi that just that per-unit-of-root food resource results in too rapid microbial growth. Hint: A good balance is needed here, let me explain; for example if your using a five gallon bucket like I do and your using lava rock to give your beneficial bacterium a place to live, as I do. Then you would thank that if you were to put a lot of lava rock in your buckets this is better, I mine donít we all think along this line? If you have a head ache and the label on the bottle say take two, weíll take four,dubble what the label sayís! Well to much of a good thing is not good in some cases, and in this case it most certainly is, a good balance is what we need, Mother Nature has found this balance, but in hydroponics we have a ways to go yet. I did careful research and I decided on using the 8Ē net-pots, because I thought this was a good enough balance, (for a five gallon bucket) and in my initial run of the Bio-Buckets, I grew my plants dabble the size that I normally would, just to see if I could over load the system, but it preformed beyond my expectations.
  • If that starts happening, what do you do? You add predators to the system to keep the bacteria in control. There are inocula of protozoa available, or you can make your own. Itís simple, effective, and reduces the amount of inorganic nutrient you have to add to the nutrient solution, because the protozoa release plant-available nutrients right in the root zone. In fact, in hydroponic solutions, it is just in the root zone that we see this interaction occurring, not in the rest of the solution.
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Old 04-01-2006, 09:15 AM #12
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A Few Considerations.
  • So, to start, you have to make good, actively aerated, recirculating designed right bio-buckets. Measure oxygen and make sure it stays in the aerobic range, which is typically above 6 mg/l oxygen. Hint: If you will allow a foot drop back into the reservoir, you will have enough oxygen to sustain over 36 plants, in a twenty five gallon reservoir.
  • Make sure the balance of beneficial bacterium is present in bio-system before you put your cuttings in it, and have sufficient enough living area to sustain your cuttings.
  • Having beneficial bacterium is a real benefit in the system, but perhaps not absolutely necessary in high numbers in solution systems. We need to understand these beneficial bacterium better in hydroponic systems.
  • How much less nitrogen can be added if the organisms are cycling nitrogen? Hint: I use General Hydropoincs Nutrient Solution, and it has been my personal observation, that because of the introduction of beneficial bacterium into your system, you will not need as much nitrogen in your system, so this well be my ratio for my second grow, veg, 0-2-1 and in flowering, 0-2-3, everything looks to be doing very wall at these levels so far. We know that in solid media we have to have 20,000 or more protozoa, typically present as flagellates and amoebae, in order to have enough N release from the bacteria and fungi to maintain plant growth requirements on a daily basis.
  • So, during the time plants need nutrients to cycle and become available right in the root system, beneficial bacterium needs to have numbers in the 50,000 per ml range. Hint: This is way I let my system set and run for 24/7 for two weeks before I put my cuttings in the system. If we have beneficial bacterium present in our systems when we start our plants, the plant will grow bacterium through production of the plants life, and stimulate growth of the of your plants, causing them to increase in size rapidly. By the time the plant needs nutrient availability maximized, the beneficial bacterium numbers will be high. The beneficial bacterium will be producing maximum amounts of available nutrients, and extra nitrate produced will be taken up by the beneficial bacterium and kept in the system, preferably right in the root zone.
  • As the plant no longer needs that much nutrient to be made available, as it has stored most of the nutrients it needs for seed and fruit production, it stops releasing as many exudates, and the nutrient cycling system begins to slow down in the root zone.
  • So, in each root system, each plant requires perhaps 2 to 6 ug of nitrogen (as nitrate or ammonium) to be produced each day during rapid growth. So, you need 50,000 beneficial bacterium per ml to cycle that much nutrient. Later, when the plant doesnít need as much nutrient availability (assuming youíve met its demands previously), youíll be OK with 20,000 beneficial bacterium.
  • As long as you donít allow conditions to kill beneficial bacterium, they well remain alive and performing their function.
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Old 04-01-2006, 09:17 AM #13
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Immune System Anti-Viral Support Matrix
Bio-Buckets Excusive---Donít Be Caught Without It!!
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Old 04-02-2006, 09:43 PM #14
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Nutrient Solution Management and Longevity
for small recycling systems


Due to the many concerns about the non changing reservoir of the bio-bucket system, I have tried to piece together a little something of the workings of my bio-system

There are many ways in which people determine the longevity, or useful life, of their hydroponic nutrient solutions. These range from the "replace it every week or two to be safe" method, to not replacing it at all except between crops. The latter, meant primarily for Recirculating DWC Bio-Bucket System of operations. For the home grower who hasn't the resources nor the financial incentive to have lab tests performed, other management methods are used. As home growers not using lab tests, in this article we will not consider maintaining the elemental makeup of the solution. Attempting to do so without such tests would have no basis in fact and would be based solely on guesswork.

Useful Life
Useful life can mean many things to many people depending on their definition of useful. Two factors can be used to define useful where it relates to nutrient solutions; plant health and economics.

Plant Health
  • A solution is no longer useful when it has potential to negatively impact growth or the health of plants, and ultimately yield. The nutritive quality of a solution is determined by the grower at the time he mixes a new solution. I remember a time during the beta testing of my system there was one time that I mess read the ratio for the bloom formula and that caused an excess/build up of salts in the system, even then because of the design of the bio-buckets toxic levels were never reached, if you do get an excess of build up salts in the bio-buckets you better check yourself and see what your doing wrong because most likely youíre the one doing it.
  • Some have argued that Over time, water and nutrients will be used by plants and will slowly change the elemental composition (or balance) of the original mix, leaving some elements in short supply while others become proportionately over-abundant.

    There are two facets involved with elemental availability.
    1. One is the existence of an element,
    2. the other is the effect the chemistry of an imbalanced solution has on the availability of that element.
  • An aged solution's imbalance can be such that it either has an insufficient quantity of an element existing in the mix, or that the imbalance has changed other properties of the solution to cause the element to become unavailable to the plants. For example, a solution may have had all but a trace of its nitrogen depleted, or it may still contain adequate nitrogen but it will be unavailable because of the pH shift resulting from the imbalance. Either condition is unfavorable to plant health. The difference being that the former points to a spent solution that has no more useful life and needs to be replaced, and the latter points to a solution which may still be useful but is starting to require more maintenance than desired. Although both points may carry merit, this has been my experience in the bio-bucket system, the reservoir is designed with a float valve, which is constantly adding fresh water back into the bio-system:
  1. A good day in my bio-system goes like this, you start out with a set point of 1100ppm, and two days later it is at 1050, depending on what stage of growth there at.
  2. It should go without saying that using the plants themselves as a means of measuring the useful life of a solution is counterproductive. The purpose of nutrient solution management is to avoid any unhealthy solution condition, waiting for plants to show signs of nutrient stress defeats that goal. Instead of using the plants as guinea pigs, we use indicators in the solution that will alert us to approaching potential problems so that we can avoid those problems thus insuring uninterrupted plant health for the life of the solution.

Economics
A useful solution will not be discarded before its time. If economy is defined as...... Careful, thrifty management of resources, such as money, materials, or labor, then replacing a solution before it's time is less economical on all three counts. When a solution with a life of 20 days is replaced after 10 days because the stage of growth is now demanding a different NPK formulation, it could be said that was not thrifty management. So in some cases a solution can have too long a life to be economical. On the other hand, when a solution with a life of 10 days is used for a crop requiring only 2 growth stage formula changes, each 30 days apart, it could be said that was not thrifty management of labor resources, because replacing six solutions takes more work than replacing 2. So in other cases a solution can have too brief a life to be economical. The value people place on their time can be much different from that they place on their money or materials. Many would gladly spend a dime to save an hour while others would gladly spend an hour to save a dime. Perhaps the best practice is to seek opportunities to save an hour or a dime whenever the payback can be seen on a repeat basis, where the gains could be enjoyed over and over again. This is what the Bio-Buckets is all about.

Solution Maintenance Required to Insure Plant Health
Although a solution may pose no potential threat to plant health, most growers consider a solution no longer useful when it causes the grower to spend more time maintaining it than is desired. My Bio-Buckets are outfitted with a float valve, which continuously supplyís the system with fresh water, (tap-water, from cold line) not solution. As the fresh water dilutes the solution in the system the ppmís go down, and about every other day (depends on stage of growth) just add your nutrients at the desired ratio to bring the ppmís back up to the desired level, as you (add back) the fresh nutrients to the diluted mix which is already in your system, all you are doing is simply refreshing freshly diluted mix, and bringing that diluted mix back to itís desired level of ppmís. Needless to say, what is and what isn't a desired amount of time can produce a hundred different answers from a hundred different growers, but it can be assumed that less time is more desirable than more time when results are the same. Solution maintenance can be said to consist of two activities; maintaining the solution volume and maintaining its pH/TDS.
  1. Maintaining the solution volume is a matter of adding plain water to the reservoir as its level drops, generally replenishing the reservoir level to its full line. Add backs (another term for water volume adjustments). When it comes to add-backs, it has been my personal experience in the Recirculating bio-buckets that it is easier to maintain a more well balance mix when your add-backs are just plain-tap-water, and not a already nutrient solution mix, if your not going to use a float valve then predetermined intervals usually complimenting a growers schedule, or randomly at the grower's convenience. In most cases, in stead of manually performing and scheduling any repeated add backs, most grower may instead opt to maintain a float valve connected to a secondary water source such as tapped water line, or another reservoir filled with tap-water, to keep levels constant, and maintain that device only once each time a new solution is mixed and water replaced. Water volume adjustments are easily predicted after only one or two crops, if one keeps track of water use during those crops.
  2. Because of the plants' relatively higher absorption of water than of salts in the water, maintaining the solution volume is essential in a recycling system in order to prevent salts from over-accumulating in the solution. Since add backs are an unavoidable fact of life, and because any additional pH/TDS maintenance and adjustments are avoidable, a maintenance program that limits itself to only add backs will be easier, less time consuming to maintain, and less of a drain on your resources. Furthermore, in the interest of economy, pH/TDS measurements can be performed at the time add backs are made while access to the reservoir solution is already convenient.
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Old 04-02-2006, 09:45 PM #15
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pH
One of the most common reasons people replace their nutrient solution is because controlling its pH to stay within its range keeps them running in circles. As a solution ages and nutrients are removed, the ability for the solution to buffer against future pH shifts becomes less. Hint: As a rule of thumb, when running in a bio-system, it has been my experience that the closer you become to that 100% add-back mark that the ph will also begin to lean towards the ph of the original water source, here is were you need to have a maintains plain to do one of two things:
  1. Flush the entire system, and replace with fresh solution. This will not be a problem if outfitted with drain valves. A fresh solution has a pH behavior that's generally predictable, it will fluctuate but will do so within the acceptable range, thus requiring no adjustments or maintenance other than add backs. An older solution finds the pH wanting to run out of range (usually in the direction of the source water pH), this runaway pH drift constantly needs attention. At this point pH can start to become more trouble to maintain than the trouble it takes to replace the solution and return to the lower maintenance of a balanced and well buffered fresh solution. The problem here is that by the time a grower realizes he's been going in circles chasing a pH ghost, the solution can have already passed its useful life in other respects.
  2. Or, have a plain ready that would replenishes the aged solution? Or not, I have found that it pays to use mathematics rather than guess work when it comes to the useful life of your solution.
TDS
Using TDS as a yardstick by which to gauge a solutions' useful life can be tricky. That TDS drops 25%, or 250ppm, isn't of itself an indicator for possible nutrient deficiencies, or that plant yields will suffer because of it. The assumption often made here is that the starting solution was at or near the nominal threshold of the plants' ability to sustain healthy growth, thus concluding the reduced TDS to be well below the threshold, and possibly deficient in one or more elements. Since it's relative to the starting TDS of a solution, if the starting solution was originally mixed 25% stronger than the nominal threshold, then when the solution TDS had dropped 25% it would be at the threshold instead of below it. Plant nutrient requirements are not something that can be nailed down to the ppm, for that reason thresholds for many crops are given as a range of recommended minimum and maximum elemental ppm values (not to be confused with TDS ppm values). For example, a flowering recommendation might be given as N 40-100 ppm, P 70-100, K 100-200, Mg 30-60. To know your crop's limits is to be able to use it to your advantage. As you can see from the above example, a grower has a good deal of latitude in how he can configure his nutrient solution mix. A safety margin for TDS measurements can be built-in to the original mix by mixing the solution nearer to the high end of a crops' recommended range, doing so will also provide more buffering power thus extending the solution's life to a degree where it relates to pH stability. In other words, TDS can have an affect on pH changes, but pH has no effect on TDS changes, so TDS also plays a role in controlling pH.
Water Uptake
A common rule-of-thumb estimate of water usage in a greenhouse is about 1 liter/sq ft/day for vine crops such as tomatoes. It has been my experience in my bio-bucket system, that in-between maximum/minimum of water/solution uptake, (this is not a static time frame,) for a mature indoor garden under strong artificial HID lighting is about (1qt, US Gallons) per plant.

Water uptake based management determines the useful life to end at a point where the original volume has been completely replaced by plain water add backs. For example, in my bio-bucket system, which has a total of 205 gallons of water in it, when the 205 gallons has had 205 gallons of water added back to it. This is sometimes also referred to as the 100% add back point. As you add back plain water, simply make note of the quantity and replace the solution when the total quantity of all add backs equals to the total capacity. For example, I have a 205 gallon bio-bucket system, 36 buckets/plants are using per plant or bucket 1 quart per day, thatís 36 quarts per day and that equals out to 9 gallons a day.
Tow ways that I have grown in the Bio-Buckets
  1. To do a grow without a reservoir change-out, requires mathematical skills and a great deal of knowledge of hydroponics solutions, but can be done if you calculate your reservoir correctly.
  2. This other way will probably render a more piece of mind for the beginner in the bio-buckets, water uptake based management determines the useful life to end at a point where the original volume has been completely replaced by plain water add backs. For example, when a 25 gallon reservoir has had 25 gallons of water added back to it. This is sometimes also referred to as the 100% add back point. As you add back plain water, simply make note of the quantity and replace the solution when the total quantity of all add backs equals the reservoir capacity. It should go without saying that I have tried both of these methods and there are very little deferentís between them.

In case you haven't noticed, the determining factors behind a reservoir's useful life can all be traced back to the rate of water uptake, which is directly tied to the current demands of the crop. These demands will constantly increase as plants slowly fill their allotted space, often taking sixty or more days and spanning multiple growth stages before peak water uptake is eventually seen by the reservoir for the first time. As more water is being used by the plants, more nutrients are being removed from the nutrient solution, this naturally affects the nutrient balance in the remaining solution. In essence, the nutrient balance is also being controlled by the rate of water uptake. Simply put, a fuller garden space uses more nutrients because it uses more water. So what we have here is a direct relationship between solution volume maintenance (add backs) and pH/TDS maintenance. When that relationship is recognized, and this strategy enhanced to take advantage of it, additional gains in labor can be realized.
Reservoir Sizing, to buffer ph and nutrient uptake
An indoor home grower wanting a starting point for determining his reservoir size to go the entire grow start/finish, I have used this method with great success, hereís how I did it by approximately calculated 3 US Quart(s) or (2.839 liters) of reservoir water volume for each square foot of mature crop/bud canopy space. This is not to say, the entire veg canopy space of your grow, only crop/bud space!! This is how I calculate my overall canopy space, with each Bio-Bucket calculate one square foot, so you would go the weith plus linth of you grow buckets, which in my case each Bio-System is two buckets wide by eithteen buckets long that comes out to be 18sq feet times two is 36sq feet, this is a rule-of-thumb what I am about to say next, I calculate 3 US Quarts per-square foot and that comes to 108 quarts now dived that total number by four and you should get 27gl and that should be the size of your reservoir. So my reservoir size is 27 gallons, this gives each sq-foot of mature canopy crop/bud space, three quarts per sq-foot. This water volume to space ratio has been found to produce both low maintenance and solution life expectancies that can easily coincide with growth stage nutrient formula changes. Waste not, want not:-)

Last edited by BigToke; 04-04-2006 at 09:02 AM..
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Old 04-02-2006, 09:46 PM #16
BigToke
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Management Strategies
Time Based---Management Strategy
The "replace it every week or two" idea is usually safe regarding plant health, however, it doesn't distinguish between those using small reservoirs with large crops and those using large reservoirs with small crops. What really determines solution life is the plants' ability to transpire, which is a function of its leaves. This means that if you have one more leaf today than you did yesterday, that today you would need a little more water than you did yesterday because of the new growth that was born since yesterday. As you can see, water uptake is a constantly moving target, and while it does have an element of time associated with it, it's really controlled by the mass of leaves in a garden at any given time.

To adopt a static time frame for when solutions should be replaced, doesn't account for the scant water uptake from the few leaves found on small seedlings/clones at the start of a crop, compared to the demanding water uptake of what those seedlings/clones will become after 60 days once they possess the thousands of leaves typical of some matured crops. Nor does it account for those gardens using a reservoir size that is undersized for the amount of growth it supports, while other gardens might be using oversized reservoirs. Someone using the "replace it every week or two" method with an undersized reservoir might be safe when a crop is new but not be as safe as he thought after the crop has matured, while someone using an oversized reservoir may be needlessly performing six or more solution changes over a twelve week crop when he could get the same results doing only three changes.

Clearly, time alone and your nutrient solutions useful life doesn't answer all the variables taking place between different grows or the growth stages those grows are in at any given time. In other words, this method is tied to the calendar, not to the plants. I suppose it should be mentioned that I have seen some fertilizer labels suggesting very strong mixes to be replaced at unusually frequent intervals for the strength of the mix. While it's unlikely that crop damage would result from following such instructions, one can only wonder if such labeling suggestions are an honest effort to simplify use of the product or to bolster sales for it, or both.
Enhanced Water Uptake Based Management
Formulating the starting solution mix in concert with the unique properties of your source water can allow you to run a nutrient solution without making any secondary pH/TDS correction adjustments during the entire life of that solution, thus limiting your maintenance to only the unavoidable plain water add backs. For example, an alkaline source water will tend to produce an alkaline solution as more and more of it is added back to the reservoir over time. You can avoid correcting unacceptably high pH levels later during a solutions' life by adjusting its starting pH a bit lower to compensate. Similarly, to keep the ending TDS of a solution from falling below the nominal threshold for a given crop, you can adjust the starting TDS a bit higher to compensate. The advantages of making all corrections at one sitting are obvious, and speaks strongly to the growers' economy of labor. It's not all that different from making the kids pee before they get in the car for that long drive!
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