Clearing up confusion on Reverse Osmosis (RO) Water
When you start talking to different Hydroponic companies and even sometimes fertilizer companies you will get a lot of mixed opinions on whether or not Reverse Osmosis water is best when setting up a new Hydroponic system, whether it be a small backyard system all the way up to a large commercial system with lots of Vertical Hydroponic Towers, like we manufacture and sell here at VertiStack.com.
So what is the real deal here? Will RO water make your life easier at the end of the day when you start mixing your nutrients? One of the things you will hear from some people is that RO water is too hard to keep the PH from shifting because you are removing out all of the buffering capacity of the water, that it naturally has. This might be true for some fertilizer blends, but if you go with our Hydroponic Nutrients, you will not have to worry about that because all of the buffers that are needed are added into the blend, give the mix the exact minerals, buffers and nutrients your stock tank needs.
In any source water there is a unique mix of elements and compounds. Whether it be from the city, well or pond, every area in the country has unique water. There are certain elements that plants use and there are others that they do not, but can tolerate at small doses. When growing in soil, or in a drain to waste situation, this water can be OK if there is no element or compound that is toxic to plants. In a recirculating system, as plants transpire pure H2O, you need to top off the tank . As you do this and add water with non plant food elements, they will build up over time. This build up can become either toxic, or they can just throw off the EC reading to make you think that there are nutrients in the water, but there are not the right ratio of nutrients for good plant health. If you look at sodium, for instance, it is not used by the plant but does have an EC. As the sodium builds up in the system, you can have an EC of 1.5, but have no plant food in there because the sodium is the only element that is contributing to the EC reading. At this point you need to dump the tank and add a fresh batch of nutrients. Depending on the source water this might need to be done on a weekly basis, or monthly. It all depends on what your water tests show.Does this make sense?
By using RO water, you will start with a blank slate and the only nutrients that you add are the ones that the plants need. As you top off the tank with fresh water and nutrients, they will stay in balance at the right ratios. This means that as the plants transpire there is no build up of unwanted or toxic elements or compounds. You will save money on nutrients and make sure that the plants are getting what they need at all times. This savings will easily offset the cost of the RO unit.