# Epsom Salts and Electrical Conductivity

In the article on Magnesium Supplementation, we addressed the use of Epsom Salts, and concluded that 3/4- to 1 teaspoon per gallon was a decent level for monthly addition to your normal fertigation regimen if you water and fertilizer don’t provide enough. As growers get more sophisticated though, they tend to use electrical conductivity (EC) of solutions to control the concentrations to be applied.

When measuring solution EC, we must keep in mind that each component of the solution – the water, the fertilizer and any additives – each contribute to the total.

The EC of your water should be measured. If you are using distilled water or that produced by a well-maintained reverse osmosis system, you can count on that being quite low.

Fertilizer manufacturers often publish the conductivity versus nitrogen concentration data for their formulas, and I urge you to use their data, as it can vary a bit, but here are some general, representative values:

 Electrical Conductivity (µS/cm2) by Fertilizer Concentration Formula 50 ppm N 100 ppm N 150 ppm N 30-10-10 70 140 210 21-7-7 280 560 840 21-5-20 290 580 930 20-20-20 200 400 600 20-10-20 330 660 990 19-4-23-2Ca 340 680 1020 17-5-17-3Ca-1Mg 320 640 960 15-5-15-5Ca-3Mg 390 780 1170 15-3-20-3Ca-1Mg 350 700 1050 14-4-14-5Ca-2Mg 350 700 1050 13-3-15-8Ca-2Mg 400 800 1200 12-1-1-8Ca-3Mg 350 710 1060 13-2-13-6Ca-3Mg 340 680 1020 10-30-20 480 950 1420 9-45-15 600 1200 1800

So let’s say we have pretty good RO water, with a conductivity of about 15 µS/cm2, and measure our fertilizer solution to be 350 µS/cm2. Subtracting the water’s conductivity from that of the solution and referring to the table above for our specific formula (we’ll use 20-10-20 for this example), we see that the fertilizer contributed 350-15=335 µS/cm2, meaning we’re a fraction over 50 ppm N. So now we want to look at adding Epsom Salts.

Epsom Salts (MgSO4-7H2O) contributes approximately 7 µS/cm2 per ppm Mg. A decent dosing rate is in the neighborhood of 30%-60% of the nitrogen level, so with our example solution above, at about 50 ppm N, we should add somewhere between 15 and 30 ppm Mg, so let’s just use 25 ppm Mg. Our calculation, therefore, is as follows:

 Component Concentration EC Contribution (µS/cm2) Water 15 Fertilizer ~50 ppm N 335 Epsom Salts ~25 ppm Mg(25 ppm x 7 µS/ppm) 175 Total Solution Conductivity 525