How Do Hydroponic Systems Work?
Aug 23, 2022
Ever wanted to explore hydroponics, but don’t know where to start? Getting started in hydroponics can be confusing to say the least, and everything from choosing the right system to deciding what to grow can be challenging.
In this guide, we’ll explain everything there is to know about hydroponic systems and how you can kickstart your journey. Let’s begin!
What is hydroponics?
To put it simply, hydroponics is gardening without using any soil. Instead, you work only with water, which will provide your plants with nutrients, hydration and oxygen to keep them alive and allow them to flourish. This system allows for faster growth, stronger yields and higher quality plants. This is because when in soil, plants have to put a considerable amount of their energy into finding the nutrition they need to survive. With hydroponics, the plant’s roots are directly exposed to their nutrition source and can put more of their energy into growing stronger and healthier.
Plants grow and sustain themselves through photosynthesis, which is when they capture sunlight with chlorophyll and then use this energy to split the water molecules their roots have absorbed. Then, these molecules combine with carbon dioxide to make carbohydrates which nourish the plants. Finally, oxygen is then released into the air and helps maintain the habitability of our planet. As you can see, this process does not require the presence of soil. The soil is only needed to provide water and nutrients, but when these nutrients are placed directly into the water they can be delivered straight to the roots.
How does it work?
By being in control of these variables, you reduce the risk of many risks that come with growing plants traditionally in fields or gardens. Factors such as diseases caused by fungus in the soil, wildlife and pests can eat and destroy crops and extreme weather conditions can impact their quality. With hydroponics, you eliminate this unpredictability and have complete control over the conditions your plants are grown in. Although this comes with more responsibilities, it also comes with healthier and higher quality plants, fruits and vegetables that are free to grow without any obstacles or hindrances.
The different types of hydroponic systems
There are many types of hydroponic systems, although each one is based on the same concept. Below, we’ll break down 5 of the most popular systems and discover why each kind of system is used and what types of plants they’re best suited for.
- Ebb and flow systems work by having a tray which holds the plants and then having a separate container underneath with the nutrient solution. The water is then periodically pumped up into the tray which then floods and allows the plants to absorb the nutrients. This system works best with small plants like herbs and is perfect for those working with smaller spaces inside their home.
- Nutrient film technique is a system built using wooden channels which have a nutrient solution that pumps through them that constantly runs along the bottom of the channel. Once it reaches the end of the channel, it goes back into the main reservoir and is sent back to the start of the process. This system only works for plants with big, already established roots.
- Drip systems are very similar to ebb and flow systems, except the nutrient solution is pumped through many different small ones instead of a single large one. This makes it ideal for plants that don’t yet have a developed root system, and it also works best for smaller plants.
- Aeroponics involved the plants being suspended on a tray with their roots hanging underneath. This tray is then put into a box which contains a small nutrient solution at the bottom which is then sprayed onto the plants in a fine mist using a pump system. This kind of system is one of the more complicated ones to set up, and is most commonly used in commercial settings.
- Wick systems involve plants being placed into a tray that’s filled with a medium such as Rockwool or perlite. A nylon rope is then placed on the base of each root which then extends past the bottom of the tray. The tray is then put on top of the reservoir to allow the ropes to absorb the nutrient solution which then works its way up to the plant’s roots. As this process is slower, it’s best for fast-growing plants.