Hydroponic system designs
Hydroponic system of farming is one of the newest concepts doing the rounds of the field. It uses water instead of soil mixed with nutrients to help the plants grow. In some cases, alternative substances like vermiculite, rockwool, perlite, peat moss, etc are used in place of soil. Therefore, the hydroponic system has to be designed accordingly to allow the plants to draw nutrients along with oxygen while remaining submerged in water. There are a number of hydroponic systems available according to the nutrient requirement of the plants as well as the space required.
A hydroponic design requires three basic elements which include:
- A growing container- The plants have to be placed inside the growing container which can be anything from a bed, tower, bucket, raft and any kind of watertight vessel. The container should hold properly while the nutrient solution floods the inside, flows in the stream or drips.
- Sump tank- This tank is used for holding the solution as well as mixing it with the water. Some hydroponic agriculture system houses both the mixing and sump tank. The usage of both the tanks is more common when the agriculture is being done on a commercial scale. This is because separate levels are required for irrigation and drainage. This is also used in case there is an auto dosing system which can benefit from another tank.
- The pump: There are various kinds of pumps available in the market. You will have to pick one according to the size of the hydroponic system that you are building and how much water you need to pump into the system per hour. Alternatively, there is another system called the Kratky method. In this method, the growing container and the pump are combined. A pump is not required at all because the plants have access to the water mixed nutrition. The method is a neat one and requires properly formulated solutions.
Different types of hydroponic systems
Deep water culture: This system uses a raft like substance for holding the plants on the solution tank. The solution is gradually moved through the tanks from the sump so that the nutrients get delivered slowly. The deep-water culture is suited for the hydroponic vertical farming system in the tropical regions. These areas sometimes face a problem with the level of dissolved oxygen but the temperature around the roots remains stable.
Zip grow: This hydroponic system takes up vertical storage space in three dimensions instead of the plain horizontal one. The upfront costs of these systems are slightly higher but the operating costs are comparatively lower.
Nutrient film technique: In this type of hydroponic system, the nutrient mixed water constantly flows over the delicate roots of the plants. The set-up is slightly tilted so that the nutrients keep flowing due to the gravitational force. It allows the roots to get more oxygen and enhances the growth rate of the plant.Once the growing cycle is over the entire system has to be cleaned and prepared without keeping any trace of the cleaning agents used.