The first decision we must take when we want to start a crop project is the choice of the medium we are going to use. This choice will influence the work methodology that we will use throughout the process.
Peat, sand, water, coconut are some of the mediums we can choose from. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages. We leave aside the cropping systems without substrate and focus on the coconut substrate, and its differences with the traditional peat substrates.
Coconut Substrate as Culture Medium
The coconut substrate is a very aerated culture medium that facilitates the root development of the plant, which in a few days can fill the containers with a great amount of roots.
The capillarity of the coconut is very high, so after irrigation the nutrient solution is evenly distributed in the container we are using. Even better, we can adjust the water retention level of our crop. How? Choosing the coconut substrate structure that best suits our irrigation requirements.
EC (electrical conductivity)
If we choose a coconut substrate with very low EC levels, it is convenient to control the amount of nutrients that we provide to the plants. These medium practically do not have nutrients, so we must be the ones who feed the plants. Always taking care of the parameters of EC (an EC meter comes handy).
Instead, if we choose enriched coconut substrates, we must start with a low EC level and increase it as the plants consume nutrients.
The value of EC is important because if we do not reach the minimum, the plants can show symptoms of malnutrition and if we exceed the maximum, we can cause toxicity and other problems. It is also possible to alter the final result, in the case of plants that bear fruit, by varying the EC value of the nutrient solution.
pH (acidity / alkalinity)
It is important to control the pH levels of nutrient solutions. Each nutrient is absorbed in different pH ranges. Besides, plants have different nutrient requirements depending on whether they are in the phase of vegetative growth or in the phase of fruit production.
Adjusting the pH levels we can prioritize the absorption of certain nutrients, and even get the plant not to assimilate other nutrients, at a certain case, unfavorable. In some crops this technique is used to eliminate the salts that the plant has absorbed, thus improving the final result.
Coconut is a highly aerated substrate with a high capillarity that promotes the formation of a robust structure for the plant. As we have total control over the plant’s feeding, the coconut substrate allows obtaining the desired results in a reliable way.