How (And Why) You Should Calibrate pH And Electrical Conductivity (EC) At Your Greenhouse

MSU Calibrating Your EC Meter
Calibrate your meter by turning the dial with the standard solution.

Spring is in full swing in most greenhouses. Vegetative cuttings are being stuck, plugs are being transplanted, and finished product is being shipped to areas where spring has sprung.

In the middle of all this activity, it is easy to forget the basics such as making sure your pH and electrical conductivity (EC) meters are calibrated correctly. According to an article from Heidi Wollaeger with Michigan State University (MSU) Extension, the measurements you take with your meters are only as good as the calibration. If your pH and EC meter provides you with an inaccurate reading, you might falsely make a management decision that is detrimental to your spring crop.

There is a variety of EC and pH meters on the market. Wollaeger and Michigan State University Extension recommend the following tips (using a Hanna Instruments HI 9313-6) for preparing your pH and EC meter for use:
• If you have not used your pH and EC meter in a while, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to get it ready to go. After a long period without use, the electrode in probe of the meter will have likely dried out.
• Once you have “re-wet” the probe, calibrate the meter again. You will need to have the standard solutions that can be used with the meter to recalibrate it. For the Hanna meter, Wollaeger needed the standards for the 4.01 pH and the 7.01 pH, and also needed to calibrate the EC and have a solution with a known EC value (μS/cm).
• Make sure your standard solutions are not expired. You may be tempted to draw out of the same bottle for years on end. Be careful, as the integrity of the solution may have changed over time. The manufacturers often sell these calibration solutions in various size bottles or convenient disposable, individually packaged sachets.
• Rinse the electrode at the end of the probe with distilled water.
• If your standard solution came in a larger bottle, pour it into a clean, dry container such as a small cup. If your standard solution came in an individual sachet, place the electrode directly into the packet. After inserting the electrode in the standard solution, adjust the dial to make sure your meter is reading the pH of the known standard. Never dip the probe directly into the larger bottle, as the known pH or EC will become inaccurate over time. Also, growers should take note that the pH of the solution changes with temperature, so be sure to check the temperature of the solution before calibrations.
• Rinse between calibrations with distilled water.
• Calibrate you meter to a known EC.

You should now be ready to measure the EC and pH of your crops.

By performing these simple steps, you will be able to detect accurately if the pH of a crop is creeping up or if the soluble salts are getting too high, for example, which can cause nutrient deficiencies and toxicities in plants.

Remember, pH is based on a logarithmic scale, so a pH of 6.0 is 10 times more basic than a pH of 5.0. What appears to be small shifts in pH are actually larger than you might think and may quickly affect the nutrient uptake of your plants.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

More From Technology...
Argus Multi-Feed RM - feature

March 26, 2017

Feeding System Allows For More Precise Delivery of Nutrients in Greenhouses

Argus Controls’ Multi-Feed RM100 is designed to help producers custom-feed their plants based on specific nutrient recipes.

Read More
GrowSpan Series 1000 Greenhouse (GrowSpan) feature

March 24, 2017

New Greenhouse Structure Models Emphasize Crop Protection, Energy Efficiency

Manufacturers of new structure models say they are responding to grower concerns with designs that focus on ventilation, maximizing your space, and incorporating a wide range of crops. Here’s a look at some of their latest offerings.

Read More
Emerald Coast Growers Seed RoomTight feature

March 22, 2017

An Inside Look at Emerald Coast Growers’ New Seed House

Florida-based liner producer Emerald Coast Growers custom retrofitted and expanded an existing greenhouse, with the goal of increasing production efficiency.

Read More
Latest Stories
Argus Multi-Feed RM - feature

March 26, 2017

Feeding System Allows For More Precise Delivery of Nutr…

Argus Controls’ Multi-Feed RM100 is designed to help producers custom-feed their plants based on specific nutrient recipes.

Read More
GrowSpan Series 1000 Greenhouse (GrowSpan) feature

March 24, 2017

New Greenhouse Structure Models Emphasize Crop Protecti…

Manufacturers of new structure models say they are responding to grower concerns with designs that focus on ventilation, maximizing your space, and incorporating a wide range of crops. Here’s a look at some of their latest offerings.

Read More
Emerald Coast Growers Seed RoomTight feature

March 22, 2017

An Inside Look at Emerald Coast Growers’ New Seed…

Florida-based liner producer Emerald Coast Growers custom retrofitted and expanded an existing greenhouse, with the goal of increasing production efficiency.

Read More
Lemnis Oreon Lights

March 21, 2017

Lemnis Oreon, EnviroTech Cultivation Solutions to Partn…

EnviroTech’s expertise in energy and water technology fits perfectly with the water-cooling solution of Oreon Grow Lights, according to the companies.

Read More
Measuring the light distribution from an LED lamp - feature

March 17, 2017

Consider Evaluating the Benefits of LED Lighting for Yo…

Despite the potentially high installation cost of LED lighting, several advantages mean it’s worth considering. Collecting information and conducting small-scale trials can help you make LED lighting profitable at your operation.

Read More
Nexus Atrium for Prides Corner

March 15, 2017

How Tech Suppliers Are Helping Growers Find Solutions

Greenhouse structures and components manufacturers highlight some of their most recent projects.

Read More
Direct Fired Heater feature image

March 14, 2017

Researchers Examine Efficacy of Direct-Fired Greenhouse…

A team of researchers at The Ohio State University is examining the efficiency of direct-fired heating systems in comparison to ventilation costs.

Read More
Pic-O-Mat Vision system feature

March 3, 2017

How Growers Can Make the Most of Automation

A Greenhouse Grower Top 100 Grower says investing in automation can reap several long-term benefits, as long as you do so for the right reasons.

Read More
Erik Runkle at LED Research Summit

February 28, 2017

Highlights From the First-Ever LED Lighting Research Su…

Leading horticulture researchers explored new innovations in emerging agriculture when Colorado State University and Philips Lighting convened an inaugural Research Summit on LED lighting in horticulture.

Read More
Drone for Bee Pollination

February 21, 2017

Learn How Drones Could Eventually Replace Bees in Polli…

Researchers in Japan are using the principle of cross-pollination in bees to make a drone that could potentially transport pollen between flowers.

Read More

February 15, 2017

Registration Open for NGMA Spring Meeting

The annual gathering of the National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association will feature a look at green industry trends, emerging market opportunities, and more.

Read More
Visser PC 16 Transplanter feature

February 13, 2017

How to Find a Greenhouse Transplanter for Every Grower&…

Equipment manufacturers have recognized a void in the market for machinery that appeals to growers of all sizes and budgets. Here are some affordable options to consider investing in to improve your operation’s efficiency.

Read More
Emerald Coast Growers Seed Room

February 8, 2017

Emerald Coast Growers Adds New Seed House to Increase P…

The new facility is designed to increase the company’s control over inventory, sowing rates, germination percentages, and growing conditions.

Read More
ISO Cutting Machine

February 4, 2017

Getting to the Next Generation of Greenhouse Automation

The most successful growers in the future will be those that are willing to accept and invest in new technology.

Read More
TopCrop Monitor (Priva) feature

February 2, 2017

The Latest Updates in Greenhouse Environmental Controls

Constant monitoring of your greenhouse climate is critical, especially when you can’t be there in person. Here’s a look at what manufacturers have developed to make this process more efficient and effective.

Read More
DRAMM PulsFOG

February 1, 2017

DRAMM: 75 Years of Innovation

This manufacturer and distributor of horticultural tools and equipment has a long history of developing inventive new technology that solves problems for its customers.

Read More
LumiGrow Gerbera feature

February 1, 2017

How Lighting Companies Are Tackling Plant Quality

Working with researchers and growers, three suppliers have learned how effective lighting can lead to healthier crops.

Read More
Botany Lane Greenhouses

January 27, 2017

Why Botany Lane Grows Poinsettias On Capillary Mats

A move to watering mats cut water and fertilizer use, production time, and labor for this Colorado-based grower.

Read More