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Hydroponics Tips for Understanding Terminology

May 7, 2008
In the specialized world of hydroponics, it can sometimes seem like growers are using a foreign language. Here are some key hydroponics terms and their definitions that will hopefully make you better equipped to understand the world of hydroponic growing.

Medium - Medium simply refers to the material that your plants grow in. In traditional gardening, the medium is soil. In hydroponic gardening, it can be coconut fiber, clay pebbles, rockwool, water or even air. The medium you choose for your garden is going to depend upon your budget, goals and specific needs.

Nutrient Solution - A nutrient solution is a combination of water and water-soluble plant nutrients. The nutrient solution contains all the nutrients and moisture that a plant needs and is delivered directly to the root through the hydroponic system.

Conductivity - Conductivity is the scale by which one determines the strength of a nutrient solution. Pure, unadulterated water actually does not conduct electricity. But as salts that are found in plant nutrients are dissolved the water, the solution begins to be able to conduct electricity. As more salts are dissolved, the more the water is able to conduct. Thus, the strength of this electrical current is used to measure the potency of the solution.

Hydroponic System - Your system is determines how your nutrients are delivered to your plants. Usually it consists of a medium, a reservoir to store the nutrient solution, a pump or wick, and a timer. A hydroponic system can either be active or passive; meaning that it can either use a pump or a wick to deliver the solution. It can also be a recovery system; meaning that the solution is delivered back to the reservoir once it has been used on the plants, or non-recovery; meaning that the remaining solution is disposed of after use.

Clone - Cloning means reproducing a plant asexually through cuttings and tissue culture.

Photoperiod - This refers to the amount of light and darkness through a day. It is important to hydroponic growers because properly manipulating the photoperiod may have a big impact on how well your plants grow.

Macronutrients - These are the minerals that your plants need in substantial amounts such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Micronutrients- These are minerals that your plants need less of than micronutrients but are still important to their development. They include copper, iron, and zinc.

Lumen - A lumen is a unit of measurement used when discussing light output of grow lights. One lumen is the amount of light on one square foot emitted by a candle that is one foot away.

pH balance - This refers to how acid or alkaline your medium or nutrient solution is. A pH balance of 7 is considered neutral, with anything over 7 being alkaline and anything under 7 being acid. Without the proper pH balance in your hydroponic system, your plants will not receive the proper nutrients to grow to their potential, so constantly measuring this is essential to the success of your crops.

You can use these hydroponics terms and their definitions to further your research, improve your hydroponic system and better understand the wonderful world of hydroponics.
About the Author
Michael Straumietis is co-founder of Advanced Nutrients and an expert in hydroponics, plant nutrition & soil sciences. He markets, reviews and publishes his knowledge in short original papers with a focus on soil-plant interactions. If you need more hydroponics tips, visit the website at http://www.advancednutrients.com and read "Hydroponics Tips for Increasing Yield."
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