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Common Nutrient Deficiencies in Hydroponic Farming

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Hydroponics beginners may not know what they should look out for in order to detect nutrient deficiencies and toxicity in their plants. This lack of adequate knowledge can result in reduced yields or plant death. This article discusses some of the common nutrients whose deficiency can cause adverse effects on plant growth and productivity.


Nitrogen is one of the major nutrients that plants require to grow and thrive. It is especially needed during the vegetative stage of growth in every plant's life. The first sign that will show you that your plants lack nitrogen is the lack of vigour in their growth. Soon, you will begin to notice that the old leaves start becoming yellow. That yellowing results from a lack of chlorophyll due to insufficient nitrogen. This deficiency can soon cause most of the plant to turn yellow.


Phosphorous plays an important role in root development and health. Plants that lack phosphorous will not grow as fast as they should. Stunted growth is therefore the first sign of phosphorous deficiency. You will also notice that the older leaves on the plants will turn dark green. Plants lacking phosphorous delay to mature.


Potassium is the third major (macro) nutrient needed by plants. While it is largely needed during the fruiting stage of plants, potassium is also needed in small amounts throughout the life of the plant. A shortage of this vital nutrient manifests in the form of yellowing of the older leaves. How can you differentiate nitrogen deficiency from potassium deficiency? Potassium deficiency is often accompanied by the appearance of dead tissues on the margins and tips of plant leaves. Branches and stems may also break easily.


Sulphur is one of the nutrients that are needed in small amounts. However, this should not lead you to think that sulphur isn't important to plant health. Plants that are deficient in this nutrient normally have yellow leaves. This yellowing starts from the younger leaves. Even the veins of those leaves will turn yellow. The tips of those leaves will often curl downwards.


Magnesium deficiency also manifests in the form of yellowing. However, this yellowing starts from the veins of the leaves. It then spreads outwards to the rest of the leaf. Affected leaves quickly drop off. The plants can die soon after because they will be unable to survive without leaves.

Observe your plants closely and note down any symptoms of nutrient deficiencies. Discuss your findings with experts at hydroponic shops so that you can be advised about what nutrients you should avail to your plants. Follow their application instructions so that nutrient toxicity is avoided.