A Beginners Guide to Hydroponic Systems
It’s no secret that Hydroponics is the future. Traditional methods of growing typically waste large amounts of water which just isn’t necessary! In order to work towards sustainability, this is something all growers should be taking into consideration when planning their space.
Due to the huge variety of systems to choose from, growers often become overwhelmed with choice so it is best to understand how each system works so you can ensure you’re picking the right system for your space and needs.
Simplified, a deep water culture system is a method whereby roots are suspended in a highly oxygenated nutrient solution to stimulate accelerated, continuous growth. Growers utilising DWC systems like the Nutriculture Oxypot or IWS RDWC in their grow space typically observe faster growth rates when compared with other hydroponic methods of growing.
Oxygenating your solution with an air stone and air pump is essential. In soil or coco, you will find that the gaps in the substrate contain air. In a DWC system without aeration, it is possible for the roots to drown. By implementing a simple air stone and pump system you will be constantly oxygenating the solution meaning you will be less likely to run into issues further down the line.
In much larger systems, growers may find that they benefit from implementing a chiller to keep the nutrient solution within optimal range. If the temperature of the solution exceeds 23°, it will create an environment in which pathogens can thrive, and can ultimately lead to root rot.
NFT stands for Nutrient Film Technique. When utilising this method, plants are grown in what is known as channels, lined with a spreader mat. As the solution is pumped through the channels, plants can uptake nutrients effectively before it is drained back into the tank and recirculated. The spreader mat is easily penetrated by the roots, securing the plant in place. At London Grow we have found the Nutriculture GroTank NFT System to be hugely popular due to the fantastic build quality and consistent results that can be achieved.
Flood and Drain
A Flood and Drain system (or Ebb and Flow) refers to a method of growing where a table is filled up with water and drained multiple times a day. This is attractive to growers due to the lack of aeration required. When the table is drained, it gives the plants a chance to absorb oxygen before the next watering. The Nutriculture IWS Flood and Drain System comes with a variety of options including a Pro Remote System or a Standard Remote System depending on your needs.
Compared to DWC, this system required slightly more maintenance however it does have its perks. As the roots will not be suspended directly in the reservoir, it will be easier to control temperature levels and you can also increase the surface area of available growing space because the tank will be kept separate.
One of the more commercially utilised methods of administering feed to plants is by using Drip Systems. As they are incredibly easy to operate, this is attractive to growers that are dealing with large numbers. There are a variety of different ways to achieve this concept and they are highly customisable making them a more versatile option than most other hydroponic systems. Many growers like to use Idrolab Idroroll Benches, or Danish Trays to maximise usable space in their grow room. You can then opt for your preferred nutrient line, and grow medium to make your own ideal system. If the solution is recirculated this is a great way of minimising water waste. If you do not recirculate the solution, you will find that a lot of water is wasted.
Aeroponic systems have been shown to accelerate growth rates when compared with other hydroponic systems. Similar to DWC, the roots are left suspended over a nutrient solution. Inside the solution will be a pump, and a manifold with sprayers on to continuously mist the root zone. The benefit of this is that the sprayer will oxygenate the roots constantly, as well as feeding them. At London Grow we have found huge success when germinating plants or rooting cuttings using the X-Stream Aeroponic Propagator. It caters for between 12 and 120 seeds or cuttings making this a viable choice for even commercial facilities.