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Fertilizer mixers / injectors recommendations

Discussion in 'Orchid Culture' started by Raven, Dec 9, 2021.

  1. Raven

    Raven Well-Known Member

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    Well, here I am again. When I first started growing in the greenhouse several years ago I used a very cheap Hozon Siphon mixer to apply fertilizer with every watering. it worked well in the beginning but then stopped the fertilizer uptake completely. After that, I've been fertilizing by hand with a battery-powered sprayer. The larger my collection gets the harder is to do it by hand. First I was doing it twice a week, now I'm on a once-a-week schedule and still, it takes me 5 hours!
    I don't think I can handle this anymore. What do you folks use as fertilizer injectors? Ideally, I'm looking for something to connect to my outdoor faucet/spigot with an ability to turn it off when needed but I'm down to other suggestions as well. There are many options available and I don't wanna get something that is going to stop working in two months.
    Thanks!
     
  2. Raven

    Raven Well-Known Member

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    After doing some search on the forum, I see that a lot of folks are using Dosatron. I might invest in one of those but are there any other (potentially cheaper) options available?
     
  3. chadders

    chadders Member

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    Like you I had used a siphon system for years. Then I asked our friend Marne to take a look at what I was doing to grow orchids. She tested what was coming out of the siphon and to my surprise I was dosing my orchids with about 1200 ppm at each watering . She suggested the Dosatron and I am now on my second unit. My experience has been that they are very reliable in delivering the level of fertilizer you deliver to your orchids. Incidentally their service people are very helpful and patient in helping you with any problems that you may have with the Dosatron. After fifteen yeas of use I can recommend the Dosatron
     
  4. KellyW

    KellyW Orchid wonk Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Raven, I’m one of those that has a Dosatron. It continues to work well for me. However, it takes a while to prime the fertilizer from the fertilizer tank to the injector. For me that isn’t a problem unless I let the tank go dry. If you would be disconnecting from a hose every time I would suggest a valve on the upstream and downstream end as well as the siphon line to prevent the loss of the prime.

    Mine is permanently mounted and plumbed but I still put a valve on the lower end of the uptake tube to prevent it draining when mixing a new batch of concentrate.

    I have only used this one brand and perhaps others would be less problematic for frequent disconnects? Don’t know.
     
  5. Raven

    Raven Well-Known Member

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    Thank you, both.
    I made my decision, I'll get Dosatron. Now I just need to think of the best model.
     
  6. Ray

    Ray Orchid Iconoclast Supporting Member

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    Raven,

    I have always had Dosatron and Dosmatic injectors in my greenhouses (look at qcsupply.com for a good price), and there are Chinese knock-offs (knocks-off?) that some of my customers have found to be quite reliable and a great deal cheaper.

    Now that I downsized my collection and grow on my deck most of the year, I simply use an Ortho Dial-and-Spray house end device, and was both cheap and reliable. In the greenhouse, where the fertilizer was metered into the RO water, I used the hose-end sprayer to add KelpMax and probiotics.
     
  7. Raven

    Raven Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Ray
    Do you fertilize once a week with Ortho Dial-and-Spray? Or do you add fertilizer concentrate at every watering?
     
  8. KellyW

    KellyW Orchid wonk Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Raven, I have the Dosatron D128R. It has given me good service but don’t have anything to compare it to. If you use a permanently mounted injector just make sure you plumb it with a bypass so you can use water without it going through your injector.
     
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  9. Ray

    Ray Orchid Iconoclast Supporting Member

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    When I had a greenhouse with 750+ plants, the metering pump fed K-Lite at 25 ppm N for all waterings.

    Now that I have a much smaller collection, when they are out on the deck, where they get watered 2-3 times a week, and they are fed once a week @ 100 ppm N.

    When they are indoors, I water with a battery-powered sprayer 2 times a week, and that contains 50 ppm N solution.
     
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  10. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I have used Dosatron for many years and have 2 units now since I sometimes use two solutions at same time. I would highly recommend getting one of the models that has a variable dosage rate. I have a friend who uses one of the Chinese models (much less expensive). He likes it and says that you have to periodically change out the springs in it. He does say that changing them is easy. I can look up the name if you are interested.

    Dosatron has switched from 100::1 and 128::1 and switched to a percentage scale. They could have put both as they do in the EU. My newest one is the percentage and I hate it. It makes it hard for me to figure out how to compare the two.

    I don't know if they still make it, but they used to have a portable unit that was on a dolly (as I remember it). Though I remember some reviews noting difficulty of filling the concentrate solution.
     
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  11. Raven

    Raven Well-Known Member

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    Marni, that would be great if you could ask your friend what model does he use! Thanks.
     
  12. Ray

    Ray Orchid Iconoclast Supporting Member

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    Personally, I recommend Dosmatic (made in The US and can be serviced here, if need be) over Dosatron (France), although, having used both for decades, neither ever needed repair.

    The portable setup Marni referred to was simply a steel hand truck to which the metering pump was mounted, and fed out of a 5-gallon bucket sitting on the lifting platform.

    The unit I found most utility was the Dosmatic MiniDos 12-1%, which can handle 0.3 to 12 gallons per minute, and can be adjusted to inject at ratios as high as 1:100 or as low as 1:500.

    A word about mixing ratios: do not be tempted to make the fertilizer concentrate too strong to give you more time between refills, as you’ll start running into precipitation issues. Greencare, for example, says the the solubility limit for the MSU fertilizers is about 2#/gallon, but that appears to be for material used right away or kept in an actively agitated stock tank. I found that half of that, or even less, is more stable.

    I also found that instead of adjusting the pump for different feed ratios, based upon the product to be used, it was easier to pick a convenient ratio and leave it there, adjusting the tank concentration, instead. They aren’t the easiest things to adjust….

    If you intend to use any organic materials like probiotics or KelpMax, or others with short lives after dilution, I recommend not using the metering pump to deliver them, but placing them in a hose-end sprayer on the fertilizer watering hose instead.

    For example, let’s say you want to routinely feed K-Lite @ 25 ppm N. That requires 0.73 g of powder per gallon of final solution, so if you have your pump set to a 1:100 ratio, your stock tank will have to contain 73 g/gal or 0.8 pounds per 5/gallons, giving you 500 gallons of solution between refills. (That’s what I did.)
     
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  13. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    The last one I bought is D14MZ2VFII DOSATRON INJECTOR W/O BYPASS TOP and I got it from QC Supply. I have shut off valves plumbed into my set up already. If I didn't have those, the bypass valve would be worth the extra money. Their customer service is very good and these don't need "regular" servicing.

    I find switching the injector rate is quite easy. The hard part is to remember to switch it back when I change solutions. On my previous unit the mechanism was really hard to turn, but the ones I have now are easy. I disconnect the uptake hose to let the solution in the tube drain back in to the concentrate before switching.

    The unit my friend has is from AliExpress and is here. It is much cheaper, but I would still by another Dosatron if I needed another.
     
  14. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I just heard back from my friend with an update. Reading this, I would definitely go with Dosatron.

    I have seen the Chinese pump on EBAY and may have ordered one. Aliexpress is kind of dead in the water given the shipping bottlenecks. The pump works well except it has a set of two springs that break after a few months of use. These are very easy to replace as long as you have spares - screw off the top, pull out the piston assembly and replace the two springs. I bought extras on Amazon who also sells the pump:
    https://www.amazon.com/NEWTRY-Hydra...ocphy=9032077&hvtargid=pla-944461552490&psc=1
     
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  15. Raven

    Raven Well-Known Member

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    Thank you, all!