There are a few different types of hydroponic systems out there to choose from and each system delivers water and air differently. But which hydroponic system is right for you? Which system works the best? The answer is simple – all of them with the only difference coming down to performance. Ease of use, is what helps the grower to make the choice best suited to them.
Here we are going to list the various different types of hydroponic systems available, the basics on how they work. With this information to hand, you will know which hydroponic system fits your growing needs when it comes time to choose one.
Deep Water Culture
The water culture system (also known as deep water culture) is probably the simplest and easiest active hydroponic system to understand. A tray or platform (usually made of hollow plastic or Styrofoam) contains the plants and is floated directly on top of the nutrient-enriched water with the roots dangling in the water. As the plants float on top, an air stone (which is supplied air by an air pump) sits on the bottom of the system and the air stone bubbles deliver oxygen directly to the root system. The only drawback to this type of system, which is a very minor one at that, is that this system is not ideal for larger plants as the roots tend to get too large to be submerged fully.
Ebb & Flow (Flood and Drain)
This type of system works very well and efficiently by temporarily flooding growing trays with nutrient water. This water is then drained back into the reservoir for re-use later. With most Ebb & Flow systems, this process of flooding and draining is usually initiated by a timer which is connected to a pump which has been submerged in the reservoir. The timer performs this action a couple of times a day, more or less, depending on variables like the size and type of the plants as well as any temperature and humidity levels.
This type of system is very adaptable as a grower can fill the entire tray(s) using a wide variety of growing mediums such as perlite, gravel, small rockwool granular or grow rocks. Many people also like to use separate pots for each plant and fill each pot with a growing medium of their choice.
A drip system is one of the more popular and widely used of all hydroponic systems and is highly recommended for beginners in hydroponic growing. The process and basic operation of this system is very simple there is a timer set up which activates a pump on a regular basis to drip nutrient/water solution on the base of the plant by way of a tube drip line. There are two types of drip system – recovery and non-recovery. In a recovery system, the extra water/nutrient solution run off is gathered and put back into the reservoir to be re-used. In a non-recovery system, the extra solution run off is not collected but drained away.
So, as you can see there are a multitude of different types and functions of hydroponic systems, and choosing the right one takes a bit of understanding of each system compared with your personal preference. This guide should give you a general idea on which one may suit your needs best.