Basics of Hydroponic System

Types of Hydroponic System

There is six basic types hydroponic system, which we use for soilless hydroponic farming, home gardening, and commercial hydroponics farming. There are many of variations in these basic types of hydroponic systems. The most effective hydroponic systems are Wick Systems, Nutrient Film Technique (NFT), Drip Systems, Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain system), Deep Water Culture (DWC) and Aeroponics System. These hydroponic systems are widely used in home gardening and commercial hydroponics projects. In this page, you will learn how these hydroponic systems work, how different system look like, what are the pros and cons of each hydroponic system.

Active and Passive Hydroponic System

A hydroponic system could be either active or passive system. Active means, the nutrient solutions will be transferred by the pump. The passive hydroponic system depends on a wick or anchor of a growing medium.

Recovery and Non-Recovery system

The hydroponic system characterized by recovery and non-recovery system. Recovery means the nutrient solutions will be reused into the hydroponic systems. Non-recovery means, the nutrient solutions will be applied to the growing medium and then it vanishes.

Elements of Hydroponic System

The plant roots need 4 things, water, moisture, nutrients, and oxygen. The basic principle used in all hydroponic systems are, the way these important things will be delivered to the plant roots.  There are four important elements which we need to consider before building any hydroponic system or you buy a hydroponic system online. The four important hydroponic system elements are Water Delivery System, Nutrient Injection System, Media Something to hold the roots and Irrigation Catchment.

Hydroponic System Wick type

Wick system is the simplest basic type of hydroponic system. This system works passively, which means it uses no pumps and there are no moving parts in this hydroponic system. The nutrient solutions are transferred into the growing medium from the reservoir through a wick line. You can use any variety of growing medium on this system. Based on results, the best choice growing media for this system include coco peat fiber, perlite, and vermiculite.

How it works:
The nutrient solutions are pumped from the reservoir up, to the plant roots, through the capillary pipe similar like a wick, interested in the growing media.

Very easy to set up
Good for beginners
Good choice for home gardening.

Not suitable for larger plants.
Oxygen supply is harder to the plant roots.

Hydroponic System Wick Type

Deep Water Culture System

The deep water culture system is an active recovery system. This system is a simplest of all other active hydroponic systems. Plants are well placed inside a net-pot and they are held by the floating Styrofoam over a container of the nutrients and water. The Plant roots are usually suspended and expanded into the rich nutrient solutions which are highly oxygenated.

How it works:
This system works by dipping plants roots directly into the nutrient solutions with help of floating Styrofoam. In this system, air pumps provide the air to the air stone which will bubble the nutrient solutions. An air pump helps to reach oxygen to the deep roots of the plants.

A very inexpensive system
Water saving with Recirculating
Simplest recovery system and Easy to build

Not suitable for long growing period of plants
Not good for larger plants.

Hydroponic System Water Culture type

Ebb and Flow System

Ebb and flow system is also known as Flood and Drain system. In this system, Plants are cultivated in a tray or container using a growing medium. The timer is programmed to start up the pump, which usually pushes water along with nutrient solutions into a reservoir below to go up through the pipe and onto the core parts of the system. After tray or container is filled and it soaks the plant’s root with a certain short time and water level reached up, the gravity automatically drains the excess solutions down again into the reservoir.

How it works:
The Ebb & Flow system operates by temporarily flooding the nutrient solution to the growing tray, and then draining the nutrient solution back to the reservoir. This activity is normally carried out with a submerged pump that is linked to a timer.

Good for water culture plants, like spinaches, lettuces
Easy to build

Requires a lot of growing medium. Need proper knowledge
The roots will dry out fast when the water cycles are interrupted

Hydroponic System Ebb and Flow type

NFT Hydroponic System

The full form NFT is Nutrient Film Technique. NFT is an active & recovery system. It’s a very common hydroponic system which is used in home gardening and commercial hydroponics project. The actual nutrient solutions are usually pumped into the growing tray (normally by tube) and flow across the roots of the plants, and after that nutrients drain back to the reservoir. There is normally no growing media used other than air flow, which saves the cost of replacing your growing media after every crop.

How it works:
A pump constantly forces the rich nutrient solution right onto the grow tray, flow over plants roots. Then simply it drains back into the reservoir through the slightly downwards channel. No timer required for a submersible pump.

Little or none growing media used.
Save water and nutrient solution by Recirculating
Easy System Maintenance.

Susceptible to power outages and pump failure
Not suitable for heavy and large plants

Hydroponic System Wick Type

Drip Hydroponic System

Drip hydroponic systems are widely used by commercial hydroponic growers in India and other countries. Hydroponic Drip system pumps the exact nutrient solutions through the pipe and drops on to the plant’s roots using a network of drip lines. The activity is often programmed automatically by the timer. There are 2 types of drip system Active recovery and non-recovery system.

How it works:
The operation is easy, a timer controls the submersible pumps. The timer gets the pump turn on and nutrient solutions are dripped onto the bottom of each growing plants by a tiny drip line. In recovery system, the excess nutrients solution which usually runs off will be recollected back into the reservoir for recycling. In non-recovery drip system the excess nutrients will not be collected back, it simply turns off, after the use.

Simple to build and easy to use.
Good control of nutrient amounts and water schedule.
Good for commercial hydroponics and Cost effective

Ph and nutrients fluctuation
More suited for larger plants

Hydroponic System Drip type

Aeroponics System

The Aeroponics system is the most high tech kind of hydroponic system. Just like the NFT system. In Aeroponics very little or no growing medium used, the plant roots suspend on the air and are usually misted with nutrients solution. The misting are often done by each and every few minutes. Since the roots are usually exposed to the air. In Aeroponics, the nutrient solution will be pumped and sprayed upon the plant root systems constantly rather than flowing via a thin film of nutrient with a channel.

How it works:
Plant roots are usually suspended in the air and roots are misted along with the nutrients solution continuously. The timer controls your nutrient pumps much like various other hydroponic systems, besides the aeroponic systems needs a very short cycle timer which runs the nutrient pump a couple of seconds every few minutes. The actual misting interval is pretty short

Plant roots get plenty of oxygen. Plants grow faster and healthier
Efficient water usage, little or no growing medium used.
Best choice for commercial hydroponics

More expensive compared to other hydroponic systems.
More attention required for timer and power outages.

Aeroponics System
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