What Is EC In Hydroponics And Why Is It Important?


Do you want to grow cannabis but don’t want to bother using soil or worrying about the elements and temperature outdoors? Then hydroponics is the ideal solution for you. You don’t need soil, and all you need is to grow your cannabis with water and nutrients. For example, if you grow your weed using the hydroponic system, you need baskets or buckets to grow your cannabis. Then, you fill the buckets or baskets with water and add the nutrients for the plants to survive and thrive.

There are some advantages to growing your weed using the hydroponic system over growing it the traditional way. First, these plants grow anywhere from 30 to 50 percent quicker, and that is because the nutrients are more accessible to plants in the hydroponic system. Second, these plants usually offer larger yields which is another benefit to you. Third, the nutrients get to them quicker because when the nutrients go into the water, the root system takes it immediately since there is no soil for the nutrients to sift through.

However, when you grow your cannabis using the hydroponic system, you have a lot to learn about it, which does not apply to the traditional way of growing it using soil. One essential thing to know about is the EC or electrical conductivity and why it matters to hydroponics.

Why Does EC In Hydroponics Matter?

Most growers only are familiar with measuring the amount of fertilizer they gave their cannabis plants per liter or gallon, or grams per liter or gallon, and so on. However, when it comes to EC, that goes further than what most growers know. Therefore, if you grow your weed using hydroponics, it is essential to understand why EC matters and what it is.

That is why if you choose to utilize the hydroponics system to grow your weed, you need to get an EC mater as it measures for water to transport any potential electrical current. You know that any material can conduct electrical activity, and water is one of the most known. This type of action is known as molar conductivity or electrolytic conductivity measured in siemens or S.

Elections can flow in water because of the ions, not because of the water molecules, which is contrary to belief. However, the ions that dissolve in water will move the electrons. At the same time, the ions concentration in the water will also determine how many electrons can go from one electrode to another. Therefore, you would want a high concentration of ions because that will help the electrons flow better. On the other hand, if you only have water without the ions, electrons will not flow because water cannot conduct well. If you look at the EC meter when it measures rainwater, it will be 0.0, but in mineral or salty water, the number will be a lot higher since that type of water is a much better conductor since it has high levels of ions.

Therefore, the more nutrients you add to your water, you can improve the molar conductive potential, which will help increase the EC value. But, of course, the temperature has an impact on the conductivity measurements too.

Is The EC Value Nutritional?

Before getting into that, you can look at electrical conductivity by seeing the units expressed. However, the typical unit is siemens per meter2 per mole. Or, you can convert conductivity to the ion count in the water using parts per million which you can use in measurements such as mg/l, dS/m, or ppm. Finally, if you want to get into the nitty-gritty and look at the conversion chart, you can convert the EC into ions that the solution contains.

Now, let’s talk about whether or not EC has nutritional value. If the water has mineral salts, it has an EC. However, the presence of EC does not necessarily mean that anything is nourishing that will help nurture cannabis plants. Let’s take a look at tap water. There is chloride and sodium, which have an EC value but no nutritional value for the weed you grow.

However, know that the fertilizer you use to feed your plants consists of nutritional salts, and any additional nutritional value in water is EC+. Therefore, you will want to add that to the residual EC in the water. The gist of it is, if the EC levels are too high or too low, then your plants are not doing well.

What Is The Ideal EC Value For Growing Weed In Hydroponics?

You do not want to see an EC value too high or low as that means your plants are not getting the nutrients they need to grow. The evidence can be that the leaves turn yellow. Therefore, the ideal EC value that you will want to see on the meter is anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 dS/m. You want to remember that the perfect EC value differs based on each cannabis strain.

For example, you will want to see Indicas have a higher EC value closer to 2.5 and even higher in some cases. However, light-feeding Sativa cannabis plants should have an EC value at the lower end, which can be even lower than 1.5. The value can be closer to 1 because you don’t want to overfeed the plant.

The cause for a high EC reading is that your plants may not absorb the nutrients well because of increased osmotic pressure, and low OC levels can interfere with yield. High EC values can also indicate overfertilization, and low EC values can mean the plants are not getting enough.

Alternative methods for cultivation using hydroponics:

  1. Technological Advances: The hydroponic industry has seen rapid technological advancements in recent years, especially after COVID-19. This includes new trends in data processing and analytics, automation, and developments in crop management for hydroponics.
  2. Automation and AI: Automated growing systems using sensors have become increasingly popular. These systems monitor and adjust environmental conditions like temperature, humidity, light, pH, and nutrient levels, allowing for remote control and integration with smartphone apps. AI-based systems can quickly identify problems and adjust settings for optimal growth conditions.
  3. LED Lighting: LED lighting is gaining popularity in hydroponics due to its energy efficiency, less heat emission, and ability to emit light at specific wavelengths conducive to plant growth.
  4. Aeroponics and Vertical Farming: Aeroponics, a method of growing plants in an air-filled environment without soil, is an efficient way to use water. Vertical farming, where plants are stacked in layers, offers efficient space utilization and improved control over environmental conditions.
  5. Nutrient Film Technique (NFT): This technique efficiently delivers nutrients to plants in a hydroponic system, allowing for minimal water waste and effective indoor and outdoor growing.
  6. IoT-Based Control and Monitoring: A recent paper highlights the implementation of a low-cost IoT-based control and monitoring system for hydroponic greenhouses. This system uses sensor nodes for controlling pumps, monitoring water quality, and transmitting data, optimizing for low power consumption for off-grid operation.


If you choose to grow your cannabis plants‘ using the hydroponics system, you are making a good choice if you do not want to utilize soil. However, there is a lot to learn about feeding your plants this way, as you need to know about not only the nutrients they need but the electrical conductivity measurements or the EC unit. In addition, you will need to know the ideal EC unit for the strain of cannabis you grow, so you know that you are feeding it the correct formulation and amount of fertilizer and that your plants are absorbing the nutrients correctly.