Farmer Tip: What Happens When You Use Galvanized Tanks in Hydroponics?

Posted by Amy Storey on December 7, 2016

Brian and Kate Wharton use nearly every square inch of their backyard to produce herbs, chillies, and greens. They've got a great climate for growing in Los Angeles, California, but have learned to grow through mistakes like any farmer.

Brian and Kate have been growing with ZipGrow for several years. They started with a single ZipGrow Tower and have scaled up to several dozen now.

Whartons-backyard-hydroponics.jpg

Winter crop doing great so far in the #ZipTowers #Hydroponics pic.twitter.com/jbLGlwUi7A — Brian Wharton (@dafoink) November 29, 2016

(See how the Whartons built their system here.)

Many farmers find ways to make their systems better-looking for tours and displays, and there are plenty of ways to do that, from using a tank cover and facades to cover gutters to putting the system on wheels for easy movement.

One "don't" of display systems, however, is the use of galvanized tanks in hydroponics (or aquaponics).

Brian and Kate learned this the hard way.

So why are galvanized tanks such a problem?

Galvanizing is a process where the metal is dipped in molten zinc to increase its durability and provide a cheaper alternative to stainless steel.

Although zinc is an important nutrient to plants, it's a micronutrient that's usually present in high enough quantities in hydroponic solutions (or fish feed if you're growing with aquaponics). In fact, zinc toxicity is more of a problem than zinc deficiency. (It starts causing problems around over .1 ppm and will kill fish at 4-8 ppm; we recommend a level of .03 and .05 ppm for a healthy system.)

Zinc.jpg

So while galvanized tanks look great and last longer, they can cause problems with plants and fish.

The moral of the story? Keep galvanized products out of your system! If you have to use galvanized tanks or other parts, be sure to seal them with a heavy-duty epoxy paint or find another option like a liner.

See more farmer tips from folks like Brian and Kate here.

Buying equipment? Here are 12 deals to help you out.

 

What's the worst mistake you ever made on your farm?

Share your experience in the comments below!

Topics: Farmer Tips

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