Plants aren’t fooled by glossy labels and marketing hype – why should you be?


Would you rather we spent $100,000k of your cash on a fancy website and fancy names and expensive full colour labels to put on eco unfriendly plastic bottles, or would you rather we invest that money into quality ingredients and sound science? Every cent spent on labeling and advertising does nothing for your plants and your yields. We aim to spend quarter as much as the major players on advertising and branding and expensive lifestyle magazines, instead reinvesting our money into research and development and the highest quality ingredients that money can buy. High-end biochemicals, biostimulants, fertilisers, nutrients and additives at half the price of the competition with much cheaper delivery. Just add water!

Consistent Quality


What’s really in the products that you are purchasing through hydroponic retail stores?


Recently the Oregon and Californian agricultural departments tested several popular ‘hydro’ lines and in some instances found significant disparities between what was claimed on labels and what was actually contained in the products they tested. For example, here’s what they found in Oregon…


Advanced Nutrients: unregistered products = 30    mislabeled products = 3

Dutch Master: unregistered products = 8    mislabeled products = 11

House and Garden: unregistered products = 13     mislabeled products = 9

GH: unregistered products = 7   mislabeled products = 7

Botannicare: unregistered products = 2   mislabeled products = 5


And here are the findings of a lab test (concentration claimed vs. concentration found) that the Oregon Department of Agriculture conducted on a top selling bloom additive.





On April 29, 2009 the Department found this product being offered for sale or distribution at Northern Light and Garden in Beaverton, Oregon. Subsequent analysis found it was deficient in magnesium (Mg), L-Arginine, L-Aspartic Acid, L-Glycine, LHistidine, L-Isoleucine, L-Leucine, L-Phenylalanine, L-Proline, L-Tyrosine, and L-Valine. These deficiencies constituted false, misleading or deceptive label information, and the label did not accurately reflect the composition of the product, which was thus mislabeled in violation of ORS 633.366(1 )(a)…. “


[End Quote]


These results didn’t surprise us. We have spent over a decade testing hydroponic nutrients and additives. In many instances we have discovered significant disparities in both the labeling and quality control (product consistency) of some of the big name brands.




Recently (2010) we tested a European based multinationals products only to discover that two separate batches of their coco nutrient were completely different formulations. See following lab analyses for comparison



Specific Gravity and EC Comparison


Part A SG New 1.180

Part A SG Original 1.181

Part B SG New 1.150

Part B SG Original 1.172

Part A EC New 390,000

Part A EC Original 370,000

Part B EC New 310,000

Part B EC Original 366,000


NPK, Ca and Mg Ratio Comparison


Original lab analysis totals =   NPK 6.32- 1.6- 6.8        Ca = 4.8 Mg = 1.33

New lab analysis totals  =   NPK 6.28- 1.7- 9.5            Ca = 4.1 Mg = 1.0


In addition, their labels’ were highly misleading.


The producer listed as:


COCO A Total N 8.0%- NH4 N 1.4% NO3 N   6.6% K2O 11.0% (9.13% K)

COCO  B  Total N 2.0%- NO3 N 2.0% P2O5 4.0% (1.72% P)   K2O  10.0% (8.3% K)

While lab analysis gave us a completely different set of numbers. I.e.


Elemental NPK totals according to producer


10- 1.72- 17.43


Elemental NPK totals according to lab analysis (Feb 2010)


6.32- 1.6- 6.8


We’d like to say that this situation isn’t common; that the majority of hydro manufacturers maintain consistently high standards.


However, while some producers are definitely better than others this isn’t always the case. In many instances when testing the same product on more than one occasion the product has significantly changed.


Here is what one US agricultural regulator had to say about hydro nutrient manufacturers quality control standards “in general”.




“Our few samples show very sloppy quality control in hydro products in general. (Edit) runs a lot more samples than we do, but their results are considered confidential, whereas ours are public information. Without details, I’ve been told that some have a sample violation rate of nearly 100%….”


[End Quote]


The fact is that in many instances when you purchase a liquid product through a hydroponic store you are receiving mostly water. The question then becomes what else is in that water?


Take for example a US brand Cal Mag product that lists as:


Guaranteed Analysis






IRON .1%




Well no, the “guaranteed” analysis is highly misleading. Here’s the lab work we ran in September 2011.


Lab Analysis of Cal Mag
Calcium (Ca%)                                            3.119
Chloride (Cl%)                                            3.349
Iron (Fe%)                                                 .0793
Magnesium (Mg%)                                      1.380
%Total Nitrogen (N%)                                  2.067
Ammonium-N (NH4%)                                 .0539
Nitrate-N (NO3%)                                        1.955
Note the levels of chloride in the lab analysis. There is in fact more chloride in this product than both calcium and magnesium.


What the Guaranteed analysis should state is derived from Calcium Nitrate, Calcium Chloride, Magnesium Nitrate and Iron EDTA.


Calcium chloride, CaCl2 is a salt of calcium and chlorine. Common applications include brine for refrigeration plants, ice and dust control on roads, and desiccation. It’s very cheap stuff and to use it at these levels in a fertilizer formulation is questionable. While some Cl in solution is desirable, too much is toxic! If used at 10ml a gallon as many US growers use this product with RO water they would be adding a whopping 88ppm of Cl to the nutrient solution (optimum being approximately 15-25ppm). Consider also that growers using this Cal Mag product use it in coco which can already possess high levels of Cl and sodium and potentially the use of this product could lead to disaster.


We formulated our Cal/Mag product using calcium acetate, calcium nitrate, magnesium nitrate, Iron DTPA (a higher grade iron chelate than EDTA) and low levels of potassium chloride to allow for some Cl in solution (25ppm when used at 10ml per gallon).


Calcium acetate is used as a food additive, as a stabilizer, buffer and sequestrant. It also neutralizes fluoride in water. It makes for a high quality food grade source of Ca in solution, reducing contaminants such as sodium and heavy metals when compared to the much cheaper calcium chloride. Other than this, calcium acetate has the added bonus of acting as a sequestrant which can aid in nutrient uptake. We put a lot of thought into our product and as always took it to the next level. A higher grade product at half the price of a cheaper to produce product is indeed solid logic. Why pay more for less?


Our approach is very different. When you purchase an MB product you receive dry/solid components that can be measured and quantified. We also supply comprehensive information, not as NPK ratios listed on labels but instead what products are used in formulation and their chemical purities. In addition, each and every MB product is supported with MSDS’, technical sheets and certificates of analysis (C of A) where applicable.


Read more about hydroponic nutrients…..


The Green Logic of Solid Logic



The transportation sector is becoming increasingly linked to environmental problems. With a technology relying heavily on the combustion of hydrocarbons, notably with the internal combustion engine, the impacts of transportation over environmental systems has increased with motorization. This has reached a point where transportation activities are a dominant factor behind the emission of most pollutants and thus their impacts on the environment are significant. Here’s an estimate of greenhouse gas emissions that are produced for ever litre of fuel used in transportation. See table below



Not a pretty picture is it?


From an environmental perspective it is highly irresponsible to freight water. Take for example our Cal Mag product. What becomes 1L weighing 1.127Kg is shipped to you as a 322 gram product. Add this 322 grams of powder to 750ml of demineralised (RO) water, shake well, top up to 1000ml (1L), shake again and your 1L concentrate is ready to use. The process takes about two minutes. As the final liquid product weighs 1.127Kg we’ve reduced freighting 805grams of water and thus helped reduce environmental impacts associated to transportation. Let’s say that we freight 1000 of these premixes per month. That’s a whopping 805,000 grams (805Kg) of water that hasn’t been freighted or 9.6 tons a year. Now consider that we do this across the board with all our products – how many tons of water are we not going to ship every year and how many green house gas emissions will our solid logic approach reduce?


Look at it this way. Through shipping powders (less water) we can send you 2 x 5L sets of nutrient (20L in total), 1 x 1L Rhizo Juice and a clone gel in a 24cm x 24cm x 19cm box, weighing approximately 5.2Kg – or with water, we can send you 1 x 5L bottle of liquid nutrient weighing 5.5Kg (mostly water weight). What this means is not only are you saving at least 50% on nutrients and additives and contributing to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions but you are also saving a great deal of money on freight.




It makes a lot of sense doesn’t it? Why would any company freight water when there is simply no need to? Just imagine if every other sector adopted our philosophy – powders only… You add the water. What an impact that would have!  Millions of tons of water not being freighted needlessly every day of every week of every month of every year.


Plastic Bottles


How about all those plastic bottles that you purchase through hydroponic stores. Have you ever considered the impact these bottles have on the environment?


One of the positive characteristics of plastic is the fact that it is durable. Unfortunately, this is not a positive characteristic when it comes to the environment. The fact that plastic is durable means it degrades slowly. In addition, burning plastic results in toxic fumes.


Aside from trying to get rid of plastic, creating it can be costly to the environment as well. It takes large amounts of chemical pollutants to create plastic, as well as significant amounts of fossil fuels.


A few plastic bottle facts:


Plastic bottles take 700 years to begin composting when in landfill


Plastic bottles take 50 to 70 years to breakdown when left exposed in the environment


24 million gallons of oil are needed to produce a billion plastic bottles


80% of plastic bottles are not recycled


It is estimated that one tenth of all plastic that is created every year eventually ends up in our oceans.


When plastic is thrown away, the plastic absorbs organic pollutants that were already in existence, thus increasing the overall pollution in a variety of ways. These pollutants get into our soil and water, and    eventually get into animals’ systems when the animals ingest the water.


How about this… Recycle your hydroponic nutrient and additive bottles. It takes a few minutes with some water and bleach and they’re as good as new.  Use them over and over again. Land our powders, mix them in your recycled plastic bottles and you’re doing your bit to save the planet!




The Manix Guarantee


We recognize that our approach won’t be for everyone – manufacturing nutrients and additives at home introduces new layers of complexity to ‘hydro’ gardening. Using powder additives may not be to your taste. Dry premixes – albeit the same thing that you are now purchasing through hydro stores (at a far better price)  – may not be sexy enough for some, while saving money on consumables may not be of importance, and marketing and brand loyalty are powerful motivators for purchasing decisions. Many won’t be bothered with researching the material on www.manicbotanix.com regarding optimum ppm’s and how to achieve ppm perfection in solution. To them we say, “All the power to you – may your yields be bountiful and fruitful forever!”


To the rest we say,  “Welcome. Try our products and we guarantee that you will not only save money and learn but also discover that MB products perform on par with or outperform the products that you are now purchasing at a higher cost through hydroponic retail stores.


We like to think that we’re here for the intelligent grower. Sound science, sound ethics, sound products and sound prices that move beyond the hype.

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