Growing media forms the foundation upon which plants thrive. In cannabis cultivation, the choice and condition of media directly influence plant health and yield. Modern IoT devices allow cultivators to monitor and manage growing media with precision.
The media supports roots, provides nutrients, and maintains moisture. It plays a role in root aeration and determines nutrient absorption, affecting growth and plant vitality. Unsuitable or degraded media can lead to issues like waterlogging, poor aeration, nutrient imbalances or pathogen growth.
What Are We Monitoring?
- pH Level: Measures media's acidity or alkalinity, affecting nutrient availability.
- Example Value: pH 6.5.
- Electrical Conductivity (EC): Indicates salt concentration, monitoring nutrient levels.
- Example Value: 1.5 dS/m.
- How This Telemetry is Represented: Data often shows trends in pH and EC levels over time, aiding in early anomaly detection.
Devices for Monitoring Growing Media
- pH Meters: Measure the pH level of the media.
- EC Meters: Monitor electrical conductivity, tracking nutrient concentrations.
- IoT-Connected Sensors: Provide real-time data on various parameters.
- Understanding the Ideal Range: Cannabis prefers a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. EC values represent nutrient strength, and can vary.
- Recognizing Outliers: A sudden EC spike might indicate nutrient buildup; a pH drop could mean the media is becoming too acidic.
Testing and Calibration
- The Importance of Accuracy: Precise measurements are vital.
- Testing Procedures: Cross-reference readings with standard solutions or lab-grade equipment.
- Calibration Steps: Calibrate meters using standard solutions.
Using Data for Cultivation Decisions
- Adjusting Media Conditions: If pH drifts from the ideal range, you might need to flush the media or adjust pH. An off EC value might require a fertilization strategy change.
- Incorporating Other Data: Consider data from the media with other factors like irrigation and temperature.
- Long-term Planning: Use data to decide on media amendments, replacements, or rejuvenation.
Monitoring growing media is vital in cannabis cultivation. With IoT devices, cultivators can ensure their media remains optimal for growth. This technology leads to healthier plants, maximized yields and successful cultivation.
This article is part ten of an exclusive new series that will guide you through the essence of each of the fourteen pillars of plant care, focusing on indoor growth and revealing the nuances of how IoT can be a game-changer for cultivators.
Shawn Deggans owns Green Nanny, an IoT, AI and data consulting company focused on helping growers spend more time in the garden and less time struggling with technology.