Using The Alkalinity Calculator

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Using The Alkalinity Calculator

AlkCalc; Alkalinity Calculator
Figure 1. The NHfloriculture.com home page.
Click on "Grower Tools" to be directed to the
GroCALC page.

If you have tried to use the Greenhouse Media Lab Acid Addition Calculator, the alkalinity calculator from Purdue University and North Carolina State University in the last couple years, you may be disappointed that it no longer worked. The problem lies in the fact that when Microsoft updated Excel, the alkalinity calculator was no longer compatible with the program’s latest version.

Fortunately, a solution was developed with the support of the Fred C. Gloeckner Foundation. If you’ve never used the alkalinity calculator, then welcome to the redesigned alkalinity calculator, AlkCALC.

AlkCALC is an application that easily calculates the amount of nitric, phosphoric or sulfuric acid required to neutralize alkalinity in your irrigation water to a desired level. In addition, it will determine the amount of nutrients added by acid injection and the cost of your specific acid injection needs.

Getting Started

Unlike previous alkalinity calculators, AlkCALC does not need to be downloaded from the Internet. It is embedded into a website: www.nhfloriculture.com. You will be directed to the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension Greenhouse and Floriculture homepage. On the left-hand navigation bar, click on “Grower Tools” (Figure 1). This will take you to the GroCALC page that gives you the choice of three different calculators (AlkCALC, FertCALC, and PGRCALC). Clicking on the AlkCALC logo will start AlkCALC (Figure 2).

Safety & Retesting Tips

Acids can be very dangerous when handled improperly. Always wear proper face, hand and body protection when handling acids. When mixing acid be sure to always add acid to water, not water to acid. The addition of acid through an injector system requires a dedicated injector or a twin head injector. Depending on the type and amount of acid you use, a significant amount of nutrients may be added to your water (nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur). Be mindful of this nutrient addition and alter your fertilizer program accordingly. Retest your water three to four weeks after starting to inject acid to confirm you are obtaining the desired results. Subsequent water tests should be done one or two times each year.

AlkCALC is easy to use. Upon opening the program, you will need to input less than 10 items of information (Figure 3). Enter your company’s name and your name, and these will be carried though to the results. The next information AlkCALC needs is the pH and alkalinity of your water. You will need to do your own pH and alkalinity tests, or send a water sample to a testing lab. Notice there is a drop-down menu to the right of the input box for alkalinity. This menu will allow you to choose the appropriate unit of measure that your alkalinity test was conducted in: meq/L, ppm HCO3, or ppm CaCO3.

Next, input the desired level of alkalinity or desired pH of your irrigation water after acid addition. Again, there is a drop-down menu to select the unit of choice. Finally, the last selection you need to make is the type of acid you wish to use. AlkCALC can use one of eight commonly used acids: phosphoric (75 or 85 percent), nitric (61.4 or 67 percent) and sulfuric (35, 50, 66 and 96 percent). Choose your acid, or if you want to make a comparison, choose “all acid types”). Now that all the appropriate information has been provided, click on “submit” to have AlkCALC make your calculations.

The next screen you see will display the information you input on the previous screen, as well as the calculated alkalinity and pH values of the water after the addition of the recommended acid amount. The most important information, the amounts of acid to mix with your irrigation water, is found mid-page. To obtain a print copy, click on the “print report” button at the bottom of the page and the results will be displayed in a printer-friendly format.
If you wish to store your results electronically, AlkCALC will create a PDF of the results if you click on “print PDF.” You will then be prompted to open the file in a PDF viewer in which you can save the file, or save it directly to a user-specified folder on your computer.

AlkCALC will also estimate the cost of acid addition in your situation. By selecting the “cost comparison” tab at the top of the output screen, you can input your cost for each acid and AlkCALC will calculate the cost of treating 1,000 gallons or liters of water.

Brian A. Krug is an Extension assistant professor at the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. E-mail him at bkrug@ceunh.unh.edu.

Brian Whipker is a professor in the Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University.

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2 comments on “Using The Alkalinity Calculator

  1. Anonymous

    The given SW is too good. But sometimes if we want to give solution on field, where online(net)facility generaly not available ?( talking abt India), then a xls file would have been much better.
    So I request to Fred C. Gloeckner Foundation to develop this format.
    I gratefully appreciate this noble work that you have done.

    Again I appreciate towards authers Mr. Brian Whipker and Brian A. Krug and Mr. Allen Hammer.

  2. Anonymous

    The given SW is too good. But sometimes if we want to give solution on field, where online(net)facility generaly not available ?( talking abt India), then a xls file would have been much better.
    So I request to Fred C. Gloeckner Foundation to develop this format.
    I gratefully appreciate this noble work that you have done.

    Again I appreciate towards authers Mr. Brian Whipker and Brian A. Krug and Mr. Allen Hammer.