There’s an old saying, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” I sure know this to be true. Over the last couple years as I was learning how my system behaves, I constantly wondered what was going on in the water. I used the standard test strips and EC/pH meter, but beyond that, I was flying by the seat of my pants and obsessing over the nutrition of my plants. Of particular concern, was sodium. We have well water that has 200ppm of sodium and most plants are happy with sodium levels between 40-80ppm. Lettuce likes even less than that. Until recently, I only could rely on periodic tests we would get from Stanford. While helpful, I felt powerless with these test results because they were sometimes 6 weeks old by the time I got them. A lot can happen in 6 weeks!
I invested in a photometer and it has given me so much pleasure knowing what is going on. However, it doesn’t test for sodium. So while I now had a lot of great info, I still needed to know what my sodium levels were since they are so consistently high. I bought a sodium meter from Horiba called the LAQUA twin and couldn’t be happier. Well, I could be happier if our well water didn’t have so much sodium! This device will help me monitor the sodium levels and inform me on whether or not the sodium is increasing or decreasing based on management methods I can use. For folks with high sodium water, I highly recommend a meter like this. As the drought continues, I look forward to working on ways to determine best practices when dealing with high sodium levels in aquaponics.