It seems crazy to say Light could be a bad thing for growing plants and Nutrient Solution’s Worse Enemy! As Light is extremely important to the whole growing process for plants. It provides the energy for plants to Photosynthesize which creates all the plant’s food simply. But just like it needs to be concentrated for the best growth effects, it needs to be completely KEPT AWAY FROM NUTRIENT SOLUTION!! If you do not listen to this warning, you are risking problems all the way to lose of your whole crop!
Importance of Light
The importance of light in the growth of all plants can’t be understated. It is absolutely vital and irreplaceable part of every plant’s food creation process. In most growing articles, light holds a very important place as a vital factor in success. It is so important that many grower invest large percentages of their equipment budgets into Lighting Systems to supplement or provide their plants all the light they need. Grow Lighting is easily multi-billion dollar industry!
Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respiration, can later be released to fuel the organism’s activities.
What is the Big Deal if Light Does So Much Good?
When nutrient solution is exposed to light for long periods of time, it can have very bad effects for the Hydroponic grow. The highly rich solution can start to have algae growth when exposed to light. When exposure is limited, the algae does not have all the “factors” it needs to successful grow like your intended crops. So light exposure needs to be limited!
What is algae?
Algae is a simple, nonflowering, and typically aquatic plant of a large group that includes the seaweeds and many single-celled forms. Algae contain chlorophyll but lack true stems, roots, leaves, and vascular tissue.
What Problems Can Algae Cause?
Algae causes many different issues in a hydroponic system which will range depending on type of system, how bad the algae bloom is, and more! Here are a few of the major issues below:
- Messes with your Nutrient level ppm: Algae has its own nutrient needs. It will use the nutrients out of the nutrient solution which you intended for your plants.
- Affect your pH levels: Algae just like your plants will affect your pH levels making them fluxulate faster than normal. Out of range pH levels can really negatively affect your yield as your crops won’t uptake nutrients efficiently.
- Clogging Hydroponic nozzles, pumps, and plumbing: Algae can easily be sucked from your nutrient reservoir into your hydroponic plumbing. It can clog filters, piping, and nozzles depending on the type of hydroponic system. This is huge issues in Aeroponics!
- Encourage disease growth: Algae creates unclean growing conditions which can easily encourage fungi such as root rots. These diseases can QUICKLY destroy the whole hydroponic crop!
How to Prevent Algae:
Algae needs to be prevented at all costs as it can create way too many issues with your targeted crop! If you take away this one important environmental factor needed for growth, it will greatly slow and/or stop algae growth! That is the point of this article as the only one you can effectively take away is LIGHT.
Few Ways to Limit Light:
- Use dark solid color nutrient reservoirs. NO CLEAR!! While clear makes it easy to see solution levels, it allows light to the nutrient solution encouraging algae growth. Dark colors do not allow light through or at least highly limit it.
- Use dark solid color plumbing such as black pipe. No clear or white piping as it allows light to the nutrient solution. If you have to use white pipe, consider painting it a dark color.
- Use dark solid color root chambers. As above, consider painting any white chambers to attempt to exclude as much light as possible.
Other Anti Algae Measures:
- Cleanliness: This is your first line of defense! After ever crop rotation, a hydroponic system should be cleaned to kill off any startings of algae from previous grows.
- Aeration and/or Circulation: Aeration and general movement discourages algae growth along with other benefits to your hydroponic grow.
It is hard to believe light can be bad in a hydroponic grow, but that is why it is the #1 overlooked issues. Limiting light exposure to the nutrient solution is one the best way to control Algae growth. This needs to be considered from hydroponic system design all the way to its operation & on-going maintenance!