The Importance Of Using CalMag Supplements
Calcium and magnesium are the most abundant minerals in tap water and will influence the water hardness. Soft water, usually found in the Western/Northern parts of the UK, generally has an EC of below 0.4 and doesn’t contain much calcium or magnesium. Using a CalMag supplement in soft water regions will increase the levels of each element which are then absorbed, and used by the plants.
Hard water is at the opposite end with an EC largely above 0.8 and can mainly be found in the Eastern/Southern parts of the UK. Water in these regions contains higher levels of calcium and magnesium compared to soft water and as a general rule, if your grow room is in a hard water area, then there's no need to use a CalMag supplement, unless the plants show a deficiency.
Whether you're in a hard or soft water area, for ultimate control, we recommend running the tap water through a Reverse Osmosis (RO) filter, like the HydroLogic Stealth RO system. This will strip out all additional elements, including calcium and magnesium, to give an EC reading of 0. A CalMag supplement should then be added to the nutrient solution to raise the EC and give the plants the required levels of calcium and magnesium they need to flourish.
Is My Plant Deficient In Calcium Or Magnesium?
Calcium deficiencies can be difficult to detect to begin with – they will start with weak stems, dark foliage and slow growth rates. Once calcium is locked up in the plant tissue, it cannot translocate to other parts of the plant so any deficiency would normally show up in new growth. This will generally be yellow/brown spots surrounded by a sharp brown edge.
Unlike calcium, magnesium is a mobile element. If there is a deficiency, any available magnesium will be taken from the lower leaves and transported to any new growth – where it's needed the most. To spot and ID a magnesium deficiency, it'll show up as yellowing between the veins and/or rusty brown spots on older leaves as they're starved of magnesium.
Benefits Of Using CalMag
Magnesium is an essential element in chlorophyll - it’s what makes the plant green - and has a big role in photosynthesis, activating enzymes and transporting sugars whilst calcium plays a crucial role in strengthening the plant’s cell wall structure during formation. It also helps to regulate the flow of water movement in cells and acts as a buffer when excesses of other elements are present. A constant supply of calcium is needed for continued healthy plant growth.
Therefore, when a Calcium & Magnesium supplement is used, roots are able to uptake nutrients more freely, meaning your plant is receiving more useable levels, of not just calcium and magnesium, but also other important elements too. As well as this, the translocation of nutrients, once inside the plant, is also enhanced.
Is My Water Hard Or Soft
The general rule of thumb is that soft water tends to be in the north and west of the UK, while hard water in the south and east, but how do you know for sure? There is a simple hard water test anyone can do using a clear bottle and liquid soap. It won't give an exact result, so to be absolutely certain, either contact your water supplier, or visit their website as most have an online water quality checker.
So there you go, a quick overview, of why calcium and magnesium are important elements as using the correct levels will improve general plant health and growth when growing hydroponically. But that's not all, as thanks to the abundance of nutrients and increased uptake, defences against pests and diseases will be vastly improved, along with better fruit production giving bigger yields at harvest.