'Snapshot' of practice shows lack of regular water testing

Snap poll of growers at trade event shows none of them check their water regularly

A snap poll of growers at the Southern Growers Exhibition last week revealed that none of them had their water checked regularly. The question was asked by Mike Daly, technical marketing manager of growing media and fertiliser maker William Sinclair Horticulture. In a seminar at the exhibition, held at Sandown Racecourse, Surrey, Daly explained: “Before considering which fertiliser to use we need to look at water quality at the nursery as it can vary even across small areas of the UK.” Daly said there was a need for water analyses from each site operated by a company and it should be done at least annually. He added that pH was not as useful a measure as many think. Water users should note that a bicarbonates (temporary hardness of water) figure of around 50-80mg/litre is the target, and if tests showed the water being used had a higher figure growers should consider acid fertilisers. He said acid-dosing equipment can be used at larger nurseries,and high bicarbonate levels will increase substrate pH, which is vital if growing ericaceous species. These are only a few of the factors to be considered and if, after testing, it is decided that the water sources is not suitable for the crop, growers must look at alternatives.

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