In order to build a Deep Water Culture system, you will need: Water container or reservoir Air pump Air hose and air stones for bubble formation Grow nets or baskets to hold the plants Growing media to support the plant in the basket Hydroponics nutrients Equipment to monitor pH and EC of the nutrient solution. The first step is to connect the air pump, the tubing and the air stone. Place the air stone at the bottom of the reservoir, with the tubing going out to the pump, which should be situated close to the reservoir.
A good way of suspending the grow nets or baskets is to cut a sheet of Styrofoam to the size of the top of the reservoir. You can then cut holes in this so that the net pots sit securely in these holes. Next prepare your plants by putting them in the grow nets or baskets and secure them in place with your chosen growing media. Next make up your nutrient solution and add it to the reservoir. Finally, put your plants in place so that they sit with their roots well submerged in the nutrient solution. Ideally, you should maintain around 1.5’’ of the roots exposed to the air to avoid the risk of the stems becoming submerged in the water over time.
The water solution should have sufficient bubbles to resemble boiling water; these bubbles are necessary to oxygenate the water, to deliver sufficient oxygen to the roots to allow them to remain healthy. The system will need close monitoring for several days after being set up to ensure that the roots are receiving sufficient water, and the pH and EC of the nutrient solution will need to be monitored carefully and adjusted as necessary. In order to introduce dissolved oxygen into the nutrient solution, two aeration techniques are used; namely air bubbles and falling water. Air bubbles can be produced using the joint operation of an air pump and air stones. The air pump delivers air containing oxygen into the water through the air stone. These bubbles can also be formed using an air hose, which will produce a larger number of smaller bubbles. This increases the surface area of the bubbles, which increases the oxygenation of the water. Instead of using air pumps and stones to introduce bubbles, some water culture systems may utilize falling water to aerate the nutrient solution. This is because as water turbulently falls into the water reservoir, it applies downward pressure on the water and allows more oxygen to dissolve into the solution through the exposed surface area. This technique is, however, quite uncommon for home systems as falling water is more suited to larger scale systems. Optimum Water Level In A Deep Water Culture Hydroponics System. The optimum water level in deep water culture reservoirs depends on the placement of the plants on top of the water surface. The question is, should the plant holders (whether it is Styrofoam or a basket or a lid with holes) be touching the surface of the water or slightly hanging above it? As mentioned earlier, leaving an exposed portion of the roots on top of the water surface is healthy for plant growth to reduce the risk of root rot. It also allows a margin of safety to prevent the stems from becoming submerged. Stems and foliage will not tolerate even well oxygenated water like the roots are able to. The height of the plant above the water surface also depends on the absorption capability of the growing media. If a highly absorbent medium is used, there is less risk of the roots drying out , and it is more acceptable to let the plants sit slightly higher above the level of the water. Hence, the absorption rate of the growing media needs to be considered when deciding the level at which to suspend your plants. The size of the plant also determines the water level in the reservoir. If the roots of the plant are very short, the plant holder needs to be touching the water surface to make sure the roots get sufficient contract with the water solution and receive the oxygen and nutrients that are needed. When the plant holders are touching the water surface, the plant roots are better exposed to the nutrients needed which speeds up root growth during these early stages. For larger plants with longer roots, it is more acceptable to submerge only part of the root structure in the nutrient solution, as the plant will still be able to obtain an optimal quantity of water and nutrients. A recirculating water culture system is an modular deep water culture system that allows multiple smaller water reservoirs to be connected to a central reservoir, such that water is circulated from and to the central reservoir. This setup allows a deep water culture system to be scaled up efficiently, while only needing to maintain the pH and concentration of one central reservoir, rather than for multiple separate systems. Recirculating deep water culture systems takes work as follows: The air pump is connected to the central reservoir, which is then connected using a pump to smaller reservoirs or buckets that are also interconnected using similar pumps.
In a series manner, as one reservoir is filled up, it overflows into the next one, and ultimately excess water is fed back into the central reservoir and is recirculated. This technique is effective as it reduces the number of air pumps required for the aeration process, and allows control of oxygen and nutrients in the central reservoir rather than in each bucket separately. In fact, even if there is still an air pump connected to each bucket/container, their operation can be alternated or scheduled to reduce their on-time and reduce their costs of operation. The other advantage of this structure is that more air bubbles are introduced during the water filling process, and also falling water can be used as a supporting aeration system during the overflow of water from one bucket to another. Deep water culture is a great method of hydroponic cultivation which is increasing in popularity, both at home and commercially. These systems are easy to build and require little maintenance when constructed correctly. Getting started may seem somewhat daunting at first, but with appropriate knowledge and the right guidance, you can get started with such a system without spending too much money.
If you are thinking about trying hydroponics for the first time, this is a great option. Hi, I’m Andrew, and Smart Garden Guide is my website all about indoor gardening and houseplants.