Hydroponics Systems – Guidelines for Using Rockwool

Monday, December 13, 2010
Indoor Hydroponics

Most hydroponic growers choose rockwool over any other plant growing medium because of its innumerable benefits. Rockwool successfully helps balance moisture, thereby reducing the probability of underwatering. It also maintains a relevant oxygen level that helps in reducing the probability of overwatering. Rockwool promotes rapid development of roots without any distraction. It comes in several shapes and forms. It is flexible and you can easily grow anything you desire in rockwool. However, with rockwool as a growing medium you have to be bit cautious. You need to keep couple of important guidelines in mind before you use rockwool as a hydroponic medium.

Effects on environment: Rockwool used in hydroponics systems is not wholly natural. Rockwool consists of two main ingredients, rock and chalk. The combination of rock and chalk is heated in 3000 degrees Fahrenheit. The heated mixture is further spun and calmed down resulting into the final product you purchase from your local hydroponics systems supplier. Because rockwool is made synthetically it’s not biodegradable. The disposed rockwool settles in a landfill thereby affecting the environment. To avoid any harm caused to the environment it is better to reuse the old rockwool by thoroughly rinsing it, instead of using new rockwool every season. This way you can also reduce the cost incurred in your hydroponics garden.

Effects on health: It is important to understand that if rockwool is not handled with care it can cause irritation to the skin, eyes and lungs. It can also lead to life time effects if the skin is exposed to rockwool for a prolonged time. . The irritation caused is not basically any kind of side effect from chemical used in rockwool, but it’s like the skin irritation caused from grass or wheat. Remember to wear sun glasses, dust mask and hand gloves when using rockwool to avoid any harm to the body.

pH: Among all the plant growing media, rockwool is the more alkaline than other media. To address the pH problem you should prepare an adequate nutrient solution which would proffer an ideal pH level for the roots to grow faster. It can be a major problem-causing factor if there are different media used in one hydroponics systems, because rockwool demands separate pH level from other media. It is very important that you regularly check the pH levels, as rockwool quickly shifts its pH balance.

Prior treatment: Rockwool, unlike other media, needs a prior treatment before it is used for hydroponics systems. Soak rockwool in pH treated water for one day before you shift your plants into it. For most hydroponic growers it is not a big problem, it’s just a little more demanding than any other growing media.