Perfecta Nutrient Education & Resources

Irrigation has been important to farmers for over 4,000 years.  There is evidence of irrigation along the Nile river dating back as early as 2600 B.C.  It is suggested that crop irrigation strongly contributed to the founding of civilization.  The use of fertilizers increased dramatically during the 1970s and 80s.  Fertilizer has increased crop yields and reduced hunger more than any other single agricultural practice.  Fertilizer influences soil characteristics, some can be beneficial, and others are not.  There are 16 elements knows to be essential for plant growth and development.  Most are used by all plants.  However, there are some that are only beneficial to specific types of plants under certain conditions.  These elements are Carbon (C), Hydrogen (H), Oxygen (O), Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Sulphur (S), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Molybdenum (Mo), Copper (Cu), Boron (B), Zinc (Zn), and Chlorine (Cl).  Some plans called Halophytes can require Sodium (Na) and there are also some nitrogen fixing microorganisms require Cobalt (Co) to function.

Nutrients: Macro and Micro

Nutrients are grouped into two different categories; Macronutrients and Micronutrients.  Macronutrients are the primary mineral nutrients used in the largest quantities.  They include: Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (NPK).  The Secondary Nutrients used in smaller amounts are Calcium, Magnesium and Sulphur.  The rest of the nutrients are Micronutrients and are sometimes referred to as trace elements.  These are used in the lowest amounts if at all depending on the plant species.

Macronutrients: Primary Nutrients


In modern agriculture the most important source of nitrogen is the synthetic fixation of atmospheric Nitrogen gas.  During this process natural gas is combined with nitrogen gas under tremendous pressure and at high temperature to form ammonia.  This ammonia is then further processed into the various forms of Nitrogen fertilizer available on the market.  Nitrogen is a key component to chlorophyll.  Chlorophyll is responsible for collecting the energy of sunlight in photosynthesis.  Nitrogen is also responsible for the synthesis of amino acids, proteins, nucleic acids and coenzymes.  Plants displaying pale green or yellowed leaves are typically nitrogen deficient.  The lower leaves may yellow and die off.  Nitrogen deficiency can also cause the plant to grow slower, delay maturity and restricts overall crop yields.


The primary source of phosphorus in modern fertilizer is mined apatite (rock phosphate).  Most of the world’s reserve is in the United States.  Apatite rock comes in many forms; however, it is mostly insoluble in water. In order to remedy this apatite rock is treated with acids or heat when made into fertilizer.  Phosphorus is needed by plants less than Nitrogen or Potassium.  However, it is extremely important to overall plant nutrition.  Phosphorus is the key element in the formation of AMP, ADP, and ATP (adenosine mono-, di-, and triphosphate).  These all play an essential roll in photosynthesis and respiration.  Phosphorus is a key component of nucleic acid and phospholipids.  Many intermediates in plant metabolism are also phosphorylated compounds.  Phosphorus is responsible for increased root development and proliferation, early crop maturity and seed formation.  Deficiencies in Phosphorus are displayed as the accumulation of anthocyanin pigment (purpling) in the leaves, stems and branches, stunted growth, and reduced yields of seeds and fruits.  Phosphorus is most available to crops in the range of 5.5 – 7.0 pH and can precipitate in alkaline soil/water.


Potassium salts are found in several areas of the world.  They can be found in dead lakes and seas as well as below the earth’s surface.  Potassium comes from the decomposition of rocks and minerals, such as, feldspars, muscovite, and biotite.  West Germany and Canada have the world’s largest reserves.  However, The United States also has large deposits in New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.  Potassium promotes the growth of meristematic tissue; it plays a role in opening and closing stomata and in water retention.  Potassium is responsible for sugar and starch formation.  Potassium is a catalyst for enzymatic reactions, aids in nitrogen metabolism, and carbohydrate metabolism/translocation.  Potassium also aids in the synthesis of proteins within the plant.  Potassium is not an integral component of plant protoplasm, fats or carbohydrates like other nutrient elements.  However, plants absorb macroquantities of potassium.  Potassium deficiency is displayed as mottled spotted or curled older leaves, burning of the leaf margins.  The plants will also display weak roots, weak stalks/stems, and reduced yields and seed production.  Potassium deficiency can also cause lack of disease resistance.  Poor crop quality is typically associated with potassium deficiency.

Macronutrients: Secondary Nutrients


Calcium comes from dolomite, calcite, apatite, and some feldspars.  Limestone (Calcium Carbonate, CaCO3) is also an important source of calcium and can be used to raise soil pH.  Gypsum (Calcium Sulphate) is another important form of calcium that can be used to help reclaim sodic or saline soils by improving aggregation and structure.  Calcium is essential to all higher plants.  Calcium is responsible for the formation of cell walls, cell growth and division.  Calcium is also responsible for nitrogen assimilation and is the cofactor for some enzymes.  Deficiencies in calcium kills terminal buds in shoots and apical tips in roots, reducing overall plant growth.  Deficiencies can be displayed as deformed terminal leaves, reduced root growth.  Some plants will turn black or form dead spots in the midrib.


Magnesium is sourced for fertilizer as dolomitic limestone, magnesium sulfate, and potassium magnesium sulphate.  Magnesium is essential in chlorophyll and in the formation of amino acids and vitamins within the plant.  It neutralizes organic acids.  Magnesium is essential in the formation of fats and sugars.  It also aids in seed germination.  Plants with magnesium deficiencies will usually appear chlorotic (interveinal yellowing of mature leaves) and the leaves may droop.


The primary source of sulfur is the decomposition of metal sulfides in igneous rock.  Sulfur can also be obtained from the atmosphere and irrigation water.  Sources of sulfur for fertilizer are sulfate salts of aluminum, ammonium, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium and zinc.  Other sources include lime sulfur, sulfuric acid, and elemental sulfur.  Sulfur is a key component in several essential amino acids and several coenzymes.  Sulfur is also a key component in most plant proteins where it plays a role in maintaining the structure of the protein.  It is also responsible for contributing to the characteristic flavor compounds of some vegetables.  Some examples of this are cabbage and onions.  Sulfur and nitrogen deficiencies can be easily confused.  Typically sulfur deficiency will display in the younger leaves where nitrogen deficiency will appear in the older leaves.  Sulfur deficiency will appear as the uniform yellowing of r younger leaves, reduced plant growth, and weak stems.



Boron occurs naturally as borosilicate in the form of tourmaline.  However, this form of Boron is very insoluble in water.  Borax, however, is water soluble and a good source of Boron in fertilizer.  Boron affects flowering, pollen germination, fruiting, cell division, nitrogen metabolism, water relations, and hormone movement within the plant.  As with most of the micronutrients a little bit is beneficial, and access becomes toxic.  Boron deficiency can cause the terminal buds to die off, then lateral branches will grow but the buds on those branches will die off, ultimately causing the branches to form rosettes.  Leaves can thicken and curl and become brittle.


Copper sulfate or copper ammonium phosphate are the typical sources for copper in fertilizer.  Plants can absorb copper though their roots or leaves.  Copper is a component in enzymes and chlorophyll synthesis.  Copper is also a catalyst for respiration and a component in carbohydrate and protein metabolism.  Copper deficiency will cause terminal buds to die.  Leaves can appear chlorotic.  Overall, the plant growth will be stunted, and terminal leaves will die off.


Most chlorine exists as simple chloride salts.  Bromine is similar enough it can be used as a substitute.  Crop plants use chlorine in large amounts compared to any of the micronutrients and is only second to iron.  Chlorine aids in root and shoot growth and is generally required for growth and development.  Chlorine deficiency is rarely seen but has been observed in a lot of various crops.  Deficiencies can cause stunted root growth and leaf bronzing.  Leaves can also appear chlorotic turning into necrosis causing the plant to wilt.  Excess chlorine is very toxic.


Iron is the most important and most used micronutrient by most crop plants.  Iron in essential in photosynthetic processes.  It is a catalyst in the synthesis of chlorophyll.  It is involved in the formation of many plant compounds.  Iron also functions in several enzymatic reactions.  Plants can absorb iron through their roots or leaves.  Chelated iron is what is typically available in fertilizer because it is the most water soluble and plant available form of iron.  Iron deficiency is displayed as the paling or yellowing of leaves.  Chlorosis will start between the veins first.  Grasses will develop alternate rows of yellowing and green stripes in the leaves.


Manganese is like Iron in a lot of ways.  Manganese can be absorbed by the plant though the roots or leaves.  Manganese is involved in Chlorophyll synthesis and acts as a coenzyme.  It also participates in photosynthesis and in the activation of enzymes.  Deficiencies start very similar to iron the first signs will be interveinal chlorosis in the youngest leaves.  It will appear like a network of green veins on top of light green intervenous tissue.  Leaves later on will become white and eventually will abscise.  Manganese toxicity will cause leaves to crinkle on some crops.


Molybdenum is an essential nutrient whose deficiencies tend to be very visible.  Molybdenum becomes unavailable in acidic soil/water.  Molybdenum is an essential component in enzyme systems that reduce nitrogen.  It is also involved in protein synthesis.  Molybdenum deficiency can appear different in different plants.  Plants may become nitrogen deficient, pale green.  The leaves can also appear rolled or cupped with yellow spots.  Leaves become narrow on some crops.  Other crops will not fill out as much.


Zinc was one of the first micronutrients that was recognized as essential.  Zinc can be absorbed through the roots or leaves of the plant.  Zinc is used in the formation of plant auxins, chloroplasts and starches.  Legumes need zinc specifically for seed production.  Zinc deficiency can occur in acidic or phosphoric soils/water.  It can be unavailable in basic soil/water and toxic in acidic soil/water.  Deficiencies appear as intervenous yellowing in young leaves.  Later reduced shoot growth will be evident.  It can cause abnormalities in the roots.  Leaves can appear mottled or bronzed.  It can also cause rosetted leaf formation.  Interveinal chlorosis is also a common symptom.

Tips & Tricks

Directions for mixing:

Using room temperature water mix in Fortify first, followed by Base and then either Veg or Bloom depending on what stage of growth your plants are in.  PH your water to 5.5-6.0.  If you can dissolve the Fortify in water ahead of time and add it as a liquid, you will have the best results.  It has the most solubility issues and can have issues dissolving in hard water.  Use your reservoir within one week.  In recirculating systems there is no need to dump your reservoir water if your plants are healthy.  Fresh water and nutrients should be added at least once a week to keep your water fresh.                                                              

For mixing amounts larger than 50 gallons or if you are mixing frequently it is recommended to make a concentrated formula to be used 1:1:1 when feeding.  You can use the calculator on our website to mix a concentrate or to mix for injector fertigation. 

Making your own concentrates:

To make your own concentrates you can use the calculator on our website to determine how much of each part to mix (insert link to  For home grow applications a one-gallon jug is a perfect size for making a liquid concentrate.  I like to make my concentrate jug around 2.0 E.C. at 1:200.  This means that every one-gallon jug will make 200 gallons of feed at 2.0 E.C.  Because there are 3785ml in each gallon we take 3785/200 and get 18.9 or about 19 ml of each part will give you a total E.C. of around 2.0.  We would not recommend going much more concentrated than 4.0 E.C. at 1:200.  1:100 would be the safest and most preferred concentrate in most applications.    

Recommended Feeding Charts

Rare Dankness Perfecta: Nutrient Calculator

Make sure to check out our feeding chart page to help determine what rates you should be using.  For most hydroponic applications we suggest the standard rate feeding chart.  We have the maximum strength feeding chart to give some guidance on the highest rates we should be using to feed our plants.  These rates are great for large plants in large pots under intense light.  It is also great if you are using a feeding strategy that more resembles something where you would be feeding in the mornings and watering in the afternoons.  For deep water culture, aeroponic, amended soil or other lighter feeding situations we have provided our low strength feeding chart.

Growing in Coco Coir

If you are growing in Coco you may have questions about adding in Cal Mag or other additives.  In most applications if you are using a high quality treated or rinsed Coco you should not have any issues with Cal Mag deficiencies or the need to add additional Cal Mag or other additives.  In most cases we recommend a slightly higher version of our standard rate feeding chart maxing out around 2.0-2.2 E.C.  If you are going to add any additional additives we would recommend adding them in the end after everything else is thoroughly mixed.

Using Additives

In most cases you should not need any additional additives.  As growers ourselves we never could understand why we needed 10 different products to do the same thing 2 or 3 could do.  We spent the time collecting and analyzing water and tissue samples over several grows and a range of varieties to make sure we had the most balanced formula possible for your favorite crop.  This means there is no more doctoring up your nutrient feed to make it work for you.  If you do see deficiency issues increasing the total E.C. slightly in most situations should take care of the issue.

Electro Conductivity (E.C.) v Parts Per Million (PPM)

The main reason is that E.C. is globally accepted.  No matter where you are in the world or what instruments you are using E.C. will always be the same.  PPM changes depending on what companies instruments you are using or what country you are in and can cause some confusion because of this.  We prefer to use the global standard to keep things as clear as possible.

We are happy to assist in any way and can answer any questions about mixing or how to use Rare Dankness Nutrients with your fertigation system, Email:

Source(s): Margaret J. McMahon, Anton M. Kofranek, and Vincent, E. Rubatzky, Hartmann’s Plant Science, Growth, Development, and Utilization of Cultivated Plants, Third Edition, Prentice Hall, 2002, 1988, 1981