For saving space and soil, this method also has several
other benefits, including no soil-borne diseases, no
weeds to pull and no soil to till, run-of-the-mill side
benefits of soil-less gardening.

Drip Irrigation Systems

Drip systems are probably the most widely used type of hydroponic system in the world. Operation is simple, a timer controls a submersed pump. The timer turns the pump on and nutrient solution is dripped onto the base of each plant by a small drip line. In a Recovery Drip System the excess nutrient solution that runs off is collected back in the reservoir for re-use. The Non-Recovery System does not collect the run off.

Dip system

The Dutch who grow everything using this system, have mastered this technique. Nor do they just grow everything, they grow on an unprecedented scale compared to any other nation. The plants are propagated in a rockwool cube then grown on in a rockwool slab. The plants are individually fed using drippers. These drip emitters are designed to deliver at a set rate at a pre-set volume of water per hour.

Each dripper is wired to an infrastructure of tubes and delivery pipes, which are fed by one master pump. Most commercial systems are what are known as high-pressure drip systems and most domestic systems are known as a low-pressure drip system. These commercial high pressure drip systems are typically run to waste systems. This is when the nutrient is bled off and after dripping through the rockwool slab then simply allowed to run down the drain i.e. to waste. This ensures these plants get the exact maximum nutritional value from the nutrient solution and also cuts back on the possibility of bacteria or fungal problems like pythium. Most low-pressure drip systems are recycling or re-circulating systems where the nutrient returns to the tank then gets pumped back to the plants, then to the tank, so on and so forth.

These systems are relatively cheap compared to others and easily built once you get your head round the spaghetti of pipes, tubes and fittings. Drip systems are also very versatile and can be made in many shapes and formats allowing you a more modular design for your grow rooms.

A recovery system uses nutrient solution a bit more efficiently, as excess solution is reused, this also allows for the use of a more inexpensive timer because a recovery system doesn't require precise control of the watering cycles. The non-recovery system needs to have a more precise timer so that watering cycles can be adjusted to insure that the plants get enough nutrient solution and the runoff is kept to a minimum.

The non-recovery system requires less maintenance due to the fact that the excess nutrient solution isn't recycled back into the reservoir, so the nutrient strength and pH of the reservoir will not vary. This means that you can fill the reservoir with pH adjusted nutrient solution and then forget it until you need to mix more. A recovery system can have large shifts in the pH and nutrient strength levels that require periodic checking and adjusting.


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