Nutrient Analysis with a Photometer


I’ve been getting my water periodically tested to know how I’m doing nutrient-wise for the plants. The system is working really well, but I wish I knew more about what the nutrient levels are so I can make adjustments where needed. In a hydroponic setting, you can easily reset the nutrients by simply mixing up a new batch of fertilizer. Aquaponic systems are different in that they are organic living systems. I’ve used the standard test strips and the drops to test my water, but I really want to know some of the other elements like Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium for instance.

After carefully shopping around, I decided on the Hanna Photometer HI83200 for laboratories. There are a few different models they have, but this one tests just about everything I’d like to know except for nitrate. So I went ahead and got the HI96786 Nitrate field photometer.

I look forward to testing the accuracy of the photometer with the professional tests conducted at Stanford University to really know the performance. For now, I am happy with the way the unit works and the ease of use factor. Testing procedures only take a few minutes to 15 minutes depending on the element in question.

With all of the reagents (testing stuff) and the photometers, it was about $1,400. The other units I looked at were spectrophotometers by Hach and they were in the $6,000 range and that is without all of the reagents. Waaay above my budget! They also have more tedious testing procedures with chemical digesters presumably leading to a little more accuracy. Maybe someday, we’ll look at those again, but for now, I’m pretty happy with the photometer.

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