Why pH control is essential
Controlling and monitoring your water’s pH has become easier and more common with today’s advancements in technology. The pH scale ranges from 0- 14, with seven being neutral. Depending on the commodity being grown, your irrigation water’s pH may need to be either more acidic or alkaline (basic). For example, in tree crops like tangerines, the trees respond well to water with a pH of 4.5-6.5. This pH allows the most nutrients to be more available to the tree for a more extended period. Water within this range is considered acidic on the pH scale.
Automation and pH control
There are a handful of ways to control the pH of your irrigation water. Some operations use sulfur burners. Others may use CO2 injections. I chose to focus on the acid injection method with automation control. The Priva units that we work with and install for growers all over the state and country not only provide complete Fertigation control, but the units also provide pH control.
These systems contain an in-line pH probe that gives the grower the ability to see their pH reading in real-time and injects, if necessary, to ensure they maintain their desired pH. The days of dialing in your pump and hoping you are injecting correctly are in the past.
These smart controllers are genuinely revolutionary; however, some minor maintenance is required to ensure you are obtaining your desired pH. pH probes are delicate and must be handled with caution and care. There’s a glass bulb at the end of the probe that reads the pH. Algae builds up on the bulb and will need to be cleaned off.
Please avoid using any towel or cloth that is rough because they can scratch the bulb, which would cause your reading to be skewed. Sediment or small debris may make its way into the line, which could also cause damage to the probe, so always check for cracks or scratches. Before reinstalling the probe, a recalibration is necessary and done with pH four and pH seven solutions. If you are winterizing your system, it is crucial to remove the probe and store it in a neutral pH solution. This eliminates the probe freezing and the bulb breaking. Store it indoors, away from the elements, so you can plug it in and resume operations when the season arrives.
In conclusion, this technology allows growers to track and monitor their pH and fertigation better than they have ever been able to before. Even with this technology, it still requires some attention and maintenance. We must take advantage of this type of technology.
Times are changing rapidly, and restrictions and regulations are becoming more stringent. These systems help maximize efficiency and lower the environmental impact of these non-organic fertilizers and acids that growers are using.