Innovative Hydroculture Solutions
Hydroculture is the growing of plants in a soilless medium, or an aquatic based environment. Plant nutrients are distributed via water (H2O). The word “hydro” derives its name from the Greek word “hudor” meaning water, hence hydroculture = water culture. Hydroculture is aquatic (H2O) horticulture. In basic hydroculture or passive hydroponics, water (H2O) and nutrients are distributed through capillary action. In hydroponics-like hydroculture, water (H2O) and nutrients are distributed by some form of pumping mechanism. The roots might be anchored in clay aggregate or river pebbles. Advantages include ease of maintenance as watering and feeding involve just topping up the reservoir of growing solution. Certain types of hydroponic media are resistant to some types of soil-borne insects.
Techniques used in Hydroculture
Static solution culture
Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
Ebb and flow or flood and drain sub-irrigation
In its simplest form, there is a tray above a reservoir of nutrient solution. Either the tray is filled with growing medium (clay granules being the most common) and then plant directly or place the pot over medium, stand in the tray. At regular intervals, a simple timer causes a pump to fill the upper tray with nutrient solution, after which the solution drains back down into the reservoir. This keeps the medium regularly flushed with nutrients and air. Once the upper tray fills past the drain stop, it begins recirculating the water until the timer turns the pump off, and the water in the upper tray drains back into the reservoirs
Ebb and Flow is a form of hydroponics that is known for its simplicity, reliability of operation and low initial investment cost. Pots are filled with an inert medium which does not function like soil or contribute nutrition to the plants, but which anchors the roots and functions as a temporary reserve of water and solvent mineral nutrients. The hydroponic solution alternately floods the system and is allowed, to ebb away.
Under this system a water-tight growing bed, containing either clean gravel or coarse sand as the rooting medium, is periodically flooded for a short period (5 to 10 minutes) with a nutrient solution pumped from a supply tank. By placing the nutrient solution supply tank below the growing bed, the nutrient solution can drain back by gravity. This hydroponic growing system is little used today other than for hobby-type systems. The method is inefficient in its use of water and plant nutrient reagents. Root disease occurrence and nutrient element insufficiencies can occur with repeated use of the nutrient solution. Because it is a “closed” system, the re-circulated nutrient solution will require reconstitution, filtering, and sterilization. Within the growing period, the nutrient solution may require replacement. The rooting medium will require washing to remove root debris and accumulated precipitates as well as sterilization before reuse.