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How do we test pH levels in hydroponics?

Hydroponics comes from a Greek word that means "to work with water." Hydroponics offers an innovative way to grow plants without needing soil. Hydroponic farming involves enriching a water solvent with the nutrients that plants need to grow. From the term "hydroponics", we may think it is a relatively new area. However, it has been used for centuries. Historically, there are records of hydroponics being used in Mexico and Egypt long before it was commercialized in the 1970s. Hydroponic gardens can be both indoor and outdoor, or even on your balcony, terrace, or whatever small space you can find!


PH is a way of expressing the alkalinity or acidity of a solution. It stands for "potential hydrogen." The right PH is critical to the growth of plants. Without a well-balanced PH, the plants will not be able to absorb the nutrients. Plants do relatively well with a PH of 5.0, for example, blueberry and potatoes and 7.5 like asparagus and broccoli. 5.0 to 7.0 is a healthy range for hydroponics although some plants may be able to tolerate higher PH levels.

Having a hydroponics garden or farm means that you will be adjusting the PH levels. There are different ways of testing the PH. The best and most accurate way to check your PH is with a digital PH meter (see Best pH Meter for Hydroponics). They offer ease of use and come at different sizes and prices. With a digital meter, you dip the specialized probe into the solution, and you can read the PH on the meter screen. Keeping an electronic PH meter reader, calibrated is essential. They are delicate gadgets, and you should keep an extra one around.

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Another way to test PH is by using a liquid PH test. The liquid is a special dye. By adding one or two drops of it into a small sample of your nutrient solution, it changes color. The color is then matched to a PH chart. This method resembles the paper strip approach but gives a more accurate result than its counterpart. It is also the most popular.

Incase you are a beginner, you can consider using litmus paper strips for PH testing. These strips turn color when dipped into your nutrient solution. You can then compare the color on the paper strip to a PH chart, which tells you whether the solution is acidic, neutral, or alkali. While this is the cheapest method, it is not accurate.


PH is not a stable variable in hydroponic farming. Your PH will go up and down depending on the source of your water and nutrients. It is highly recommended that you check the PH in your farm or garden at least once a day. A very low PH will indicate that your plants are getting too much nutrient solution. A very high PH will show the opposite; your plants are not getting enough nutrients. This can lead to an unhealthy yield and unhealthy plant. It is imperative that as a hydroponic farmer, you make sure your plants have prime PH levels for the best outcomes.

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