It is important to understand the basic hydroponic systems so that you can identify the right supplies for your project. Over the years, improvements have been made to the practice to enhance efficiency as well as the quality and quantity of the produce. There are many types of systems and the choice will depend on the budget, preference and the skill level of the user. Consider these basic types of systems if you are interested in this plant production scheme.
Nutrient Film Technique
In theory, this is the most popular form of hydroponics. The system mainly consists of the grow tray with the plants and a reservoir that contains the water and nutrients required for healthy growth. In the reservoir, there is a pump that directs the nutrient solution into the grow tray continuously, which allows the plant roots to constantly be in contact with the material. There is a fitting that allows the solution to return to the reservoir making the system cyclic. There is also an air pump in the reservoir to keep the solution and the plants aerated. The greatest weakness in the NFT is the susceptibility to power outage as well as pump failure. The plants will be dry almost immediately without the nutrient solution supply.
This is the simplest type of hydroponic schemes. It is a passive system where the plants in the growing tray are supplied with the nutrient solution via wicks. The uncomplicated nature of the system makes it necessary for the plants to have a growing medium such as pro-mix, coconut fiber and vermiculate. The main drawback of this plan is that the wick will be unable to supply sufficient nutrient solution if the plants have a large demand.
Flood and Drain
This system is often referred to as the ebb and flow. The reservoir containing the nutrient solution has a pump which is connected to the growth tray via a pipe. This feature acts as both the fill and drain fitting. The scheme works by a pumping action which floods the tray with the nutrient solution. After the plant roots have been sufficiently bathed in the solution, the solution is drained out to avoid suffocation and subsequent rotting. There is a timer used to control the action of the pump and an overflow fitting is used to prevent flooding beyond a certain level. Growing medium such as grow rocks, gravel or vermiculate are used and the main drawback is the vulnerability to power outage especially with fast-draining substrate.
Visit a hydroponics supply store (such as Epping Hydroponics) to get started on any of these systems today.