Water Quality

Discussion in 'Growing Organic Marijuana' started by ElRanchoDeluxe, Jun 30, 2019.

  1. #1 ElRanchoDeluxe, Jun 30, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2021
    I’d like to start this thread to help other growers determine if their water is suitable for our purposes especially for long term no till gardening. I’d also like it to be a place to discuss solutions. Anyone can be wrong about something so if I am please let me know.

    These are the general parameters for water used for irrigation in container/greenhouse gardening.

    pH below 5 or above 7 can be problematic should be interpreted with Alkalinity

    Alkalinity below 30ppm or above 100ppm

    Hardness below 50ppm or above 150ppm

    Na above 50ppm

    EC above 1.5 mmhos/cm

    SAR above 2.0

    TDS above 900ppm

    Chloride above 30ppm some plants above 100ppm all plants

    Boron 0.5-2ppm plant dependent

    Ca below 40ppm or above 100ppm

    Mg below 25ppm

    P above 5ppm

    Sulfur below 10ppm

    Iron foliar above 1ppm or above 5ppm for watering

    Mn above 2ppm

    Cu above .2ppm

    Mo above .05ppm

    Zn above .30 ppm

    pH is the measure of probable Hydrogen or potential of Hydrogen. The more H ions in solution the more acidic it will be. Anything below 7 on the pH scale is acidic. Less H ions will make a solution basic or alkaline above 7.0 on the pH scale. Being alkaline is often confused with alkalinity.

    Alkalinity is a measure of a waters ability to neutralize acids. It measures a waters ability to resist changes in pH or the concentration of H ions. The higher the alkalinity of a water the more acid will be needed to neutralize it. Bicarbonate is the major form of alkalinity in natural waters.

    Water hardness is a measure of dissolved Ca and Mg in water.

    Salinity is the measure of the saltiness of water, typically (NaCl) sodium chloride.

    Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) is a measure of all dissolved inorganic and organic matter, this includes anything except pure H2O molecules. Salinity and TDS are used to determine the EC or electrical conductivity of water.

    Sodium Adsorption Ratio measures the amount of Na relative to Ca and Mg. Na has the ability to replace Ca and Mg adsorbed onto soil particles. This can result in reduced water infiltration and soil permeability. A soil with a lower CEC or cation exchange capacity will be less affected by a high SAR water source than a soil with a high CEC

    Alkalinity and Salinity (Na) are the most likely to cause problems in most water supplies.

    High pH combined with high alkalinity can be remedied by adding citric acid to your water. Sulfur prills or flowers are 90-99% elemental sulfur and can be used to lower the pH when mixed into the top 6” of soil. Peat moss and pine bark also have this ability albeit to a lesser extent.

    R/O water is an obvious answer but I think it should be used responsibly. By comparing your water report to the acceptable levels it’s possible that you only need to replace a small % of your tap water with R/O. Others may fall short of Ca or some other mineral and this information could help them keep this in mind.

    Unfortunately, salinity and all the rest of it will need at least some % of water replaced with “clean” water of one kind or another.

    Edit: Here is the Penn State guidelines for container plants in greenhouses.
    6D36D6C5-C7F0-4A30-9949-97904C5A20D9.png 6CDC7560-0B5D-4631-A89F-56EB9FB0A087.png 28A837B2-9070-4DCE-B828-FC6021B7E695.png 2C0CA9AC-9756-40CD-800C-0DA1E4B8F8A0.png
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  2. This is interesting. I’ll follow!

    I know in some places (Michigan) the residents themselves dont even drink the water! Better send the tech inb4 third world takeover

    Sent from my iPhone using Grasscity Forum
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  3. Here are some pics of the damage that highly alkaline water (254ppm) can do after a year and a half or so.
    IMG_20181212_115842933.jpg IMG_20181212_115842933.jpg IMG_20181212_115745556.jpg IMG_20181211_175409315.jpg IMG_20181212_121418410_HDR.jpg
    The damage took quite some time for me to figure out. Symptoms are really all over the place with some strains being affected more than others. Starts off looking like N toxicity with clawing dark green leaves and burnt tips and some necrosis. Leaves will curl upward tricking you into believing it's light or heat stress. The curling leaves on all new growth can become so bad that bud formation is retarded. It causes so much stress to the plants that they can hermie. In my case I grew so tired of looking at them I didn't notice the worse hermied branch I've ever seen in my life! That is until it was too late.

    H2O is the single largest input required for our no till gardens. It was dumb of me not to recognize this after all these years. We live and we learn. Happy to say the grow is back up and running at full steam again.

    Attached Files:

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  4. Nice post buddy good info.
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  5. i didn't know anything was wrong with my water till it killed my aquarium fish. i thought i was just a bad grower. a friend grows RDWC and has prepaid nutrient water testing kits, so i sent in a sample of my tap water. it came back with high levels of aluminum and enough copper to kill fish. once i switched to RO, my plants quit having problems. i couldn't get clones to root for years and then i used a different water source and BAM, i'm a cloning machine! the guy who tests the water said i have the highest natural silica content in my bad water though at 17 ppms. thought that was kinda neat.
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  6. I thought this was an easy to understand article when I was researching.

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  7. When the soil dries out after using high alkalinity water calcium precipitates out of solution. IMG_20190524_125502808.jpg

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  8. I use my tap water from the town I live in. High chlorine content as you can smell it instantly.

    ppm 265 average
    Ph 7.8

    I fill up a 25gal tote every few days to let chlorine to evaporate. I use a water air pump a few hours before mixing nutes

    My 4 girls are in big pots (10gal) I feed about 2.5 gal-4gal every 2 to 3 days.
    (Half gallon to 1 gallon each plant)

    Never have run off, only water when soil is almost dry to the touch or plants show signs of under watered. I like my soil moist but on the dry side before watering. I find the roots really reach out for water at this stage and get huge root systems. I keep my PH around 5 5.5 in first week or so of veg with seedlings under 8". Then switch to 6-6.5 when bit bigger as my soil and water is ph high to begin with.

    I'm not experienced but was always told under water is better than over water. My tent is 50-64% humidity and 74-82 degrees at all times.

    Sent from my SM-G960W using Tapatalk
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  9. i've seen your good work many, many, time @ElRanchoDeluxe and it's truly sad to see what has happened to you. you usually lay down all aces mate!

    my takeaway is, what you have experienced is exemplary of the conundrum of the no-till paradigm.

    best to you and many new bountiful harvests!
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  10. @ElRanchoDeluxe Hey man, I first want to say thank you for creating this post. It helped me to understand certain elements of the full water picture better. Could you possibly take a look at my water analysis and let me know if, in your opinion, any of this will become an issue in time? And if so, would RO be the only choice other than rain water or is there other things available that I may not have heard of. Thank you a bunch ahead of time!

    Attached Files:

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  11. #11 ElRanchoDeluxe, Jul 2, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2019
    Hey thanks man. The pics were the worst of the worst and about 6 months ago. I had to grow in 20g pots for a run in one room. The other room ran at 80-90% of normal the entire time. I believe the room that took the most damage was from topdressing heavily with chicken manure on top of the alkalinity issue. I was able to correct the room that didn't have chicken manure by using sulfur. I replaced all the soil in the other room and now both rooms are cranking!

    It's impossible to give back to a community that has given so much to me without being honest. Good times or bad. Posting pics of big beautiful rooms full of buds is nice, but does lil to help other growers. Especially if methods and techniques aren't described or worse yet, intentionally false. It's certainly possible to crank off 5 or 6 runs with high alkalinity water. I think this may be part of the issue.

    IMO water quality should be the first thing on the checklist to verify as acceptable before a single shovelful of soil is mixed.
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  12. #12 ElRanchoDeluxe, Jul 2, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2019
    No worries man.

    Your water is reaching the upper limits of Na and Cl. It's also lacking in Ca and Mg. This caused your SAR to be more than double what is deemed acceptable.

    I can only assume that if you made a decent soil mix that the soil itself will have a low SAR reading. This might mean that everything will work out once the water is in the soil. This is only a somewhat educated guess. I have no experience with saline water.

    If it were me I would use at least 50% RO water. Other options would be rainwater or possibly a/c or dehum condensate. I still need to send off both my a/c and dehum water for testing.
    Edit: A former member here @waktoo had saline water. You may want to check out some of his posts.
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  13. couldnt agree more with everything you wrote but i wanted to emphasize with that middle part. i try to consistently do the same thing and especially so if i find out i was in error in something ive immortalized in writing for the whole world to see! i'm willing to be called out on anything i write. that and showing the bad along with the good is the way to roll. cheers to that! or, as i like to say, "FUCK YEAH!". :smoking:

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  14. Over the years I've found I learn a whole lot more from people that I may disagree with. Same with the mistakes.

    I'd like to apologize to @JMcGD. He made the switch from hydro a lil over a year ago. At the time I told him not to worry about his water supply. I couldn't have been more wrong. Fortunately he stuck with it, adjusted the soil with peat, sulfur etc, switched to RO and now is doing well. Maybe he'll see this and explain what happened and post pics of a big beautiful room full of buds! Lol.
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  15. I really didn't explain why I think chicken manure exacerbated my alkalinity issue.

    Here's a short excerpt from the University of Georgia..

    Soil pH is considered a master variable because it is so important in controlling the availability of nutrients in the soil for plants to use. Most grasses have optimum yield and quality at a soil pH of 6.0. Since calcium carbonate (lime) is used in the feed rations of poultry, the litter can serve as a dilute liming material (about 1/10 strength of most agricultural limestones). Consequently, the use of poultry litter can help maintain soil pH and reduce the frequency of lime applications.
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  16. do you know if the source of your chicken scat uses caco3 in the chicken feed? i find this a bit fascinating as i have always been under the impression that chicken scat would lean towards acid due to the urine/ammonia/urea.

    interesting. too bad there's not an emoji for "interesting".
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  17. So the pictures you posted are of the plants in room A that received chicken manure and the plants in room B did not receive chicken manure ran at 80-90% normal in your opinion - is that what you are saying? Did the bed in room B that received the extra oyster shell also have problems like in room A?

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  18. @ElRanchoDeluxe ...
    No worries brother, I’m chalking that one up as “ learning experience “.lol
    I’m stoked you started this thread though. I agree with you now that understanding where your water sits, relative to your soil composition is a huge advantage and one that should be addressed sooner than later. I also feel as though this can’t be talked about as a one size fits all scenario. Too many variables are involved. Water quality obviously will vary tremendously from region to region, urban to suburban.
    Those pics of the curled growth make me shiver, mine were almost as bad, look at my posts in the no till thread from over the winter. High pH, high alkalinity, and severe bicarbonate levels had given me fits for the last three runs. I chased my tail in circles looking for the answer until you brought this to my attention. I did indeed add a 3” layer of CSPM to all beds and hooked up the RO system that I was assured I didn’t need any more...lol. I also had a soil test done which also helped to shed some light on my dilemma. ( I’m a big fan of the soil test now btw...)
    The couple of bits of info that really helped me tho was given to me by these fellow blades @Dreadhed and @Kesey..
    And this one...

    The pH paper was hard for me to absorb... lots of chemistry and science that, try as I might, sails right over my head. My takeaway however, ended up being the game changer for me. I was under the impression that just by using the RO system to get lower ph I was going to drop the bicarbonate levels as well. The article showed me that without the addition of an acid ( citric in my case) straight RO would only get me so far. Sure enough, after watering it RO for a complete run and only seeing moderate improvement I am now using 50/50 tap to RO and dropping the pH down to to 6.2 - 6.5 using citric acid and there’s marked improvement on this run.
    I’ll take some good pics tonight and put em up.
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  19. Excellent point about this not being a one size fits all situation. Interesting that you started seeing issues right away and I didn't have any until the 5th or 6th run. Your issues never reached the severity levels either. Then there is the "flower em small and they do better" deal.

    I was dead wrong about soil tests. I see their value as another tool in the old toolbox. Especially if your water is borderline and wanting to avoid RO.
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  20. I was using Stutzman Farms. I called to ask the other day but missed the call back. I know layers need more Ca than meat birds and I was curious which or if both are used.
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