Hydroponics can be overwhelming with the amount of choices available for the various grow systems on the market. If you don’t know where to start, we are here to help.
There are Six main systems that are commonly used:
- Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
- Drip Systems (Recovery/Non-Recovery)
- Deep Water Culture (DWC)
- Ebb & Flow (Flood and Drain)
Nutrient Film Technique:
In this system the flow of nutrients is constant, so no time is required for the nutrient (submersible) pump. The nutrient solution is pumped into the growing tray (usually a tube or piping) and flows over the roots of the plants, and then drains back into the reservoir. The reservoir must have an air stone for oxygenating the nutrient solution.
The plant is placed in a net pot, the roots are suspended above the nutrient solution. The roots are misted multiple times a day (mister should run every few minutes or constantly). For this technique you will need a nutrient pump, no air stone is required.
Drip Systems (Recovery/Non-Recovery):
Water is pumped up from the reservoir through tubing to the top of the growing media, from there it drips out of tubing onto the growing media. The solution drips down soaking the roots and growing media to the bottom of the container.
After the plants have used up the nutrients, the excess will drain down into the reservoir to be used repeatedly. This system requires checking of the water reservoir for its ph. The pH and nutrient solution strength will constantly change.
Using special timers for the drip cycle users can adjust the timing of the water cycle. This adjustment waters the plant enough to wet the growing media, where the plant's roots access it and has very little runoff. There is no need to constantly check the reservoir for pH change and nutrient solution strength since the reservoir is added with new nutrients and water once it’s out.
Deep Water Culture (DWC):
Growers will use a reservoir that holds a nutrient solution. In the nutrient solution users will have an air pump and stone for oxygenating the solution, if not, the roots will drown in the water causing root rot. The plants will receive a constant supply of water, oxygen, and nutrients.
Ebb & Flow:
This system works by temporarily flooding the grow tray with a nutrient solution and then draining the solution back into the reservoir. This is done with a submerged pump that is connected to a timer when the timer turns on the nutrients flood the tray. When the timer shuts off the nutrient solution flows back into the reservoir. The timer is turned on several times a day. Growers can use this system with a variety of growing mediums. The tray can be filled with hydroton or a rockwool mat that will line the grow tray.
In this system type, you will use a soilless mix. The system is passive, this means that it doesn’t require any pumps or moving and mechanical parts. Instead, the nutrients move up the wick or string from a solution reservoir and into the plant's root systems through capillary movement. In the wick system, the plant sits near to the reservoir to minimize the travel distance of the nutrients up the wick. Because the wick doesn’t deliver a strong steam of nutrient solution, this makes the wick system better for plants that are both smaller and require less watering.