The different Hydroponic Systems

The different Hydroponic Systems


Although there is a great deal of variety in the different types of hydroponic systems in essence it comes down to six basic types.

1. The drip system

2. The ebb & flow

3. N.F.T.

4. The water culture system

5. Aeroponics

6. The wick system

These systems can all be modified to suit the environment and budget of the individual user and the space they have available to them. In choosing an appropriate system for your own needs you need to consider these things as well as the size and types of plant you will be growing.  A brief description of each of the systems below will help you identify which system works best for you.

1. Drip System

·         Drip system is the most widely used type of hydroponic system at commercial and backyard levels.

·         Plants grow in their own container, separate from the nutrient reservoir.

·         The submerged pump is controlled by a timer that turns it on to push the nutrient solution onto the base of each plant. You can make the drip faster or slower by equipping the end of each tube with different emitters.

·         The standard media for drip hydroponics systems are rockwool and expanded clay pellets. A faster-draining media (such as clay pellets) requires faster dripping emitters (or more of them per plant). Slower draining medium (such as Rockwool) needs slower dripping emitters.

·         The tropical veggies like tomatoes and cucumbers are well suited to grow using this method. Its modular design makes it easy to remove any dead plant without disturbing the entire crop.

2. Ebb & Flow

·         Also known as flood & drain method.

·         Very popular among home hydroponics growers.

·         Plants grow in their own separate container filled with grow media.

·         On a set schedule, the nutrient solution is pumped from the reservoir to the plants’ container, soaking the growing medium and roots.

·         Next, pumps turn off draining the solution back into the reservoir.

·         The intensity and frequency of flooding are determined by your choice of growing media and temperature conditions.

·         Various inert potting media can be used such as clay balls, perlite, Rockwool and cocopeat

·         Can grow a variety of plants. Since there is an open growing bed and plants don't need net pots.

3. Nutrient Film Technique

·         NFT works well for plants with small roots.

·         Plants are grown in long tubes or channels or “gutter” separate from the nutrient reservoir.

·         A pump constantly transfers nutrient solution at the higher end creating a constant water stream at the bottom of the tray.

·         Water flows back by gravity to the nutrient reservoir,  by keeping one end of the tube lower than the other.

·         A layer of absorbent material (called capillary mat) is placed at the bottom of the tray to ensure smoother and even flow of water.(optional)

·         You can start your plants in any type of media and transfer in the NFT system to grow right in the water.

·         Precaution: You must start with plants that have a root system large enough to hang down into the flowing nutrient solution. You can top feed the plants with a drip system until their roots are large enough.

4. Deep Water Culture

·         Also known as floating-raft culture

·         Simplest of active hydroponic systems

·         It requires no nutrient pumps but air pump is used that bubbles in the nutrient solution to oxygenate the water.

·         Roots of plants are directly suspended in nutrient water using floating raft made of Styrofoam

·         This system is a great option choice for organic growing media like vermiculite and Clay balls or just directly uses net cups.

·         Deepwater culture Hydroponics systems work well with leaf lettuces.

·         Precautions: direct light can cause rapid algae growth in the nutrient solution that depletes the nutrients available to your plants. The dead pieces of algae attract fungus gnats that lead to many other problems.

5. Aeroponics

·         Most advanced form of hydroponics and more expensive than other setups.

·         A container is filled with a few gallons of nutrient solution that is sprayed to constantly soak the whole container with a fine mist of solution. A high-pressure pump is used with special spray emitters that produce a very fine, highly oxygenated spray.

·         No growing medium is used in aeroponic systems. The roots hang in the air until they grow long enough to make it bottom into the nutrient solution.


·         This system is the most difficult and volatile out of all the hydroponics growing systems.

·         The fluctuation in pH and imbalances of nutrient occur more often due to high absorption rates and oxygenation levels.

·         Moreover, there’s no grow media to protect the roots, that makes the plants react negatively to any change at much higher rate.

·         The individual parts of the system can be expensive and are not easy to assemble into a well-working system.

·         Using anything except high-quality hydroponic fertilizers will lead to instant clogging in the fine-spray emitters.

6.Wick System

·         Most Simplistic and passive type of hydroponics! Requires no pumps or electricity.

·         Plants are grown in a separate container.

·         Plant container is filled with absorbent growing media like coco coir and vermiculites. A piece of nylon rope is placed in the plants’ container that runs from roots into the reservoir that soaks the nutrient solution up into the growing media.

·         an ideal option for organic hydroponics

·         A 50:50 mix of perlite and vermiculite is a good growing media for this type of system.

Works best only for small plants and herbs

 In addition to this, there is another system called AQUAPONIC, which is often confused with hydroponics and does in fact have many similarities but is not regarded as true hydroponics. Aquaponics principles involve using the waste matter created by fish plants with a system very similar to those of hydroponics. Adding nutrients in controlled quantities is so essential to the philosophy behind hydroponics that the two topics are best considered separately. 






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