To optimize plant growth and yield, it’s important to monitor nutrient levels throughout your grow cycle. This will not only ensure your plants get all the fuel they need but will also prevent nutrient lockout.
Nutrient lockout occurs when either your soil or your drip irrigation system has accumulated excess nutrients and salts. Left unchecked for a period, these nutrients can bond together and prevent your plants from getting the nutrients they need to thrive. Ultimately, nutrient lockout can lead to nutrient deficiency and eventual crop loss. But it’s not all bad news. Let’s dig it to find out what causes nutrient lockout and how to prevent it.
What Causes Nutrient Lockout?
Knowing the cause of nutrient lockout is an excellent first step to undoing the problem, or better, preventing it.
Plants grow by absorbing compounds from water, air and many nutrients. When salts and other nutrients accumulate, usually from overfeeding, they can stop the plants from absorbing the nutrients they need to grow and flourish.
Besides nutrient accumulation, nutrient lockout can also happen when the pH levels of the soil, water, or nutrients are too high or low for your plants.
Symptoms of Nutrient Lockout and How It Affects Plants
- Elevated fertilizer levels can cause extreme leaf and shoot development, leading to fewer flowers and poor yields come harvest.
- Excessive fertilizer can lead to stunted growth in some plants.
- Pale green and yellowing lower leaves are a sign that nitrogen levels are too high.
- Symptoms of magnesium toxicity may appear as bronzing on older leaves.
Use this Symptoms of Deficiencies and Toxicities by Element chart to identify other deficiencies.
How to Fix and Prevent It
Nutrient lockout is unfortunate, but it’s not the end of your crop. Fortunately, growers can easily fix nutrient lockout with a soil or irrigation flush. For best results, follow our simple steps below:
STEP 1 – Stop feeding your plants with nutrients immediately. Continuing to do so will only exacerbate the problem.
STEP 2 – Break up the excess salt in your growing medium with a flush. This will make it easier for your plants to absorb all the nutrients they need.
STEP 3 – After flushing, let your soil completely dry out to prevent root rot.
STEP 4 – Water your garden normally for about a week before you reintroduce nutrients to your plants.
Prevention is ultimately key to ensuring your plants never suffer from inadequate nutrient levels. To prevent nutrient lockout from occurring, flush your plants regularly, use organic fertilizers, maintain pH levels, or add a natural cleaner to your mix.
HYCLEAN is a natural cleaner that eliminates and prevents salt, mineral, and fertilizer buildup from your drip lines and grow media. Its key active ingredient consists of water-soluble molecules that bind to the metal ions of fertilizers and hard water—turning them into soluble molecules that the plant can easily absorb.
When combined with an appropriate nutrient feed and used from the start of your grow cycle, HYCLEAN will keep your irrigation system and grow medium clean, preventing toxicities and nutrient lock out.
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- On February 25, 2022