Anyone make/mix their own fertilizer?

ms_minnamouse(7a)June 17, 2012

I'm going to be buying the separate macros and micros, traces (you add water, they're all powder) for my aquarium plants and would it make sense to just use the same stuff for non-aquatic plants as well? I think everything is there except for ammonia. I could mix it up ahead of time but I'd have to keep the macros and micros separate, I was told, due to chemical reaction. That phosphates react with one of the micro nutrients.

But if that's true, then how does Flora-Grow exist?

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redshirtcat(6a MO StL)

I make my own fertilizers now. I recently threw together a couple of videos showing how to get started doing this yourself using software called HydroBuddy. The focus of the videos is on how to copy Foliage Pro which I view as a giant ripoff at $56 a gallon (my retail price more than doubled in a year which did not reflect underlying increases in ingredients). Buying the ingredients retail only costs between $8-$14 a gallon. Buying them wholesale would put the price significantly lower. I think Dyna-Gro is abusing the fact that no one will sell ammonium nitrate to people anymore. I found a solution for that.

You can view the first 2 videos at the links below which will introduce you to the concept. There are some errors in the video that I noticed - specifically that the Jack's 25-5-15 that I mention in video 2 does contain .1% sulphur. I planned on making a video showing how to actually mix the substances and correcting the errors before I posted anything here but since you asked you can take a peak here:

Introduction to HydroBuddy for copying commercial nutrient formulas like Foliage Pro
Part 2 of introduction to making your own Foliage Pro (contains errors at the moment - use to get the general idea - formulas will be posted in another thread in a week or so with a video showing the mixing process and an analysis from JR Peter's lab).

For anyone interested in copying Foliage Pro please hold off until I show you how to mix them and provide the exact formula and so forth in a video I plan on adding within a week. Also note the errors in video 2 mentioned above as they effect the results (I assume most of you won't have access to ammonium nitrate). Fixing the analysis of the Jack's in hydrobuddy actually gets one closer to FP but the molybdenum is still 4x the level in FP (not 2x that I mention in the video, sorry I was nervous). Note that the level of Mo in Jack's is .0125% to FP's .0009%.

After learning quite a bit about fertilizers lately I no longer think FP is the best possible general user fertilizer but that's another issue...

Minnamouse to answer your question one would have to know what chemicals you are using and also probably the final pH of the solution. Some things are more likely to precip around pH of 6 and above (this would be the concentrate). Some are also more likely to interact at very low pHs. It all depends on what you're using. If whoever sold you the chemicals said that phosphates might cause issues then my guess would be that your iron is not chelated but it could be something else as well...

I should note that HydroBuddy will not help you with chemical interactions. You need to understand which things will interact and why in order to use the software well. If you're unsure you can always perform a jar test and check for precipitation (for instance try mixing 35% sulfuric acid with Foliage Pro in a small jar for an example of what happens when you add more S to their formula - crystals galore!)

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 9:42PM
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Hi redt any update on making your own fertilizer? I was mainly interested in a good recipe as an alternate to FP. Let us know.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 12:10AM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

Just seems like a lot of work and potential hazard when there are thousands of commercially available options... But to each their own :)

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 6:50PM
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howelbama: I hear you but curiosity and the potential of increased understanding is cool too. I really enjoyed the hydro-buddy youtube video that redt posted.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 8:22AM
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prestons_garden(9B SZ 22 HZ 6 SoCal)

When you understand the chemistry behind making a fertilizer, you are one step closer to being wise on which fertilizer you choose. Most of the time its all about marketing hype, which all of us have fallen for I'm sure.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 9:13PM
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Hello Redshirtcat! After watching your videos, I was very interested in your process for making the fertilizers! I tried using the numbers from my Foliage pro, but I keep asking myself, is this really correct? It seems like a large amount of chemicals for one gallon of solution, what numbers do you get when you run this? Having just tried this for the second time, I am not really sure if these are the correct numbers! I know that said it can be hard to make smaller amounts of solution because of the precise measurements needed, but the costs seem so high! Are most of these materials available for a much lower cost than the default is set for in the program? I really find this fascinating, but I have no idea how/if it is working. I am hoping to study Biochemistry in college, we will see how that goes, it seems I have much to study before that begins! I am sorry the format is not clear, it changes every time I try to format it!

Values calculated for the preparation of 1 gallons Mass ( g)

Calcium Nitrate (Tetrahydrate) Ca(NO3)2.4H2O 550.078
Potassium Monobasic Phosphate KH2PO4 268.502
Manganese Sulfate (Monohydrate) MnSO4.H2O 7.18
Zinc Sulfate (Dihydrate) ZnSO4.2H2O 1.41
Potassium Nitrate KNO3 401.653
Copper Nitrate (Hexahydrate) Cu(NO3)2.6H2O 10.859
Sodium Nitrate NaNO3 959.368
Ammonium Chloride NH4Cl 534.62
Sodium Molybdate (Dihydrate) Na2MoO4.2H2O 0.106
Magnesium Carbonate MgCO3 161.889

Element Result (ppm) Gross Error Instrumental error
N (NO3-) 73980 0% +/- 2.6%
K 61410.8 0% +/- 2.6%
P 16142.44 0% +/- 2.6%
Mg 12330 0% +/- 2.6%
Ca 24660 0% +/- 2.6%
S 420.336 0% +/- 0%
Fe 17740.676 187.80% +/- 7.6%
Zn 123.3 0% +/- 3.4%
B 0 0% +/- 0%
Cu 616.5 0% +/- 2.7%
Mo 11.1 0% +/- 12.1%
Na 68552.755 0% +/- 0%
Si 0 0% +/- 0%
Cl 93597.086 0% +/- 0%
Mn 616.5 0% +/- 2.8%
N (NH4+)36990 0% +/- 2.6%

EC=799.7 mS/cm

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 12:48AM
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prestons_garden(9B SZ 22 HZ 6 SoCal)

wiguy12, that is very close and thanks for posting. The defaults are set high for what ever reason.Once the true cost is calculated, I'm sure you will find it much cheaper than Foliage Pro.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 8:48PM
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Is that really right? You need to dissolve 550 grams of calcium nitrate, 268 g of potassium phosphate, and 400 g of potassium nitrate, 534 grams of ammonium chloride, and 161 g of magnesium carbonate just to make 1 gallon of FP concentrate? Redshirtcat, can you comment?

I've never prepared a fertilizer before so I've nothing to compare it to, but boy that's really concentrated stuff.

No wonder it has a proclivity to crash out!


    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 3:33PM
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redshirtcat(6a MO StL)

Sorry - I haven't gotten around to making the video of how to do this in detail - I've just been too busy to record and edit it properly. I will get to it sometime this season.

Wiguy, no, that is not a possible formula for FP. You must have had Cl set as your degree of freedom (can be bad idea - have to sanity check when you do that) because you have 93,000ppm of Cl in your final product which is more chlorine than nitrogen (ie: you're going to be killing plants with that). You can't use ammonium chloride as your source of NH4 when you need that much of it.

But yes - one does need to dissolve decent amounts of this stuff in water when making FP - that's why I mention that the water should be warm and not cold.

If I recall correctly the default prices in the program are all "100" which would mean $100 per kg - absurdly high. So yes, make sure to change those.

To properly make FP you're really going to need a source of ammonium nitrate or another fertilizer that is compatible with mixing which contains high levels of AN (and no incompatible ingredients - which means low or no sulfur, low or no calcium, probably low magnesium, and only the ingredients you would have added yourself in ratios that you can adjust with your additives).

You probably want something similar to this:

Magnesium Nitrate 178.002
Potassium Nitrate 208.82
Zinc 15 EDTA (Peters) 8.83
Iron 13 EDTA (Peters) Fe(EDTA) 20.441
Manganese 13 EDTA (Peters) 10.188
Copper 15 EDTA (Peters) 11.643
Mono Ammonium Phosphate (CustomHydro) NH4H2PO4 113.565
Potassium Chloride (Peters) KCl 0.473
Sodium Nitrate NaNO3 6.843
Magnesium Sulfate (Heptahydrate) MgSO4.7H2O 5.938
Calcium Nitrate (YaraLiva from Hummert) Ca(NO3)2.4H2O 389.668
Jacks 25-5-15 HP Jacks 25-5-15 HP 835.619

N (NO3-) 59300.425 0% +/- 2.6%
K 48706.533 0% +/- 2.6%
P 12803.005 0% +/- 2.6%
Mg 4889.625 0% +/- 2.7%
Ca 19558.501 0% +/- 2.6%
S 491.036 0.4% +/- 2.7%
Fe 977.925 0% +/- 2.7%
Zn 488.962 0% +/- 2.7%
B 97.793 0% +/- 3.2%
Cu 488.963 0% +/- 2.7%
Mo 27.593 213.5% +/- 8.3%
Na 488.962 0% +/- 2.8%
Si 0 0% +/- 0%
Cl 58.675 0% +/- 4.8%
Mn 488.962 0% +/- 2.7%
N (NH4+) 28359.801 0% +/- 2.6%

EC=423.4 mS/cm

Note that I haven't tried making a sample of that yet to see what happens...

    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 3:39PM
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