Deep Water Culture method – Best Hydroponics Systems for the Beginners

Deep Water Culture method – Best Hydroponics Systems for the Beginners
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If you have never tried gardening before, you should take it easy with a hydroponics system. The best thing about this method is, you will get both basic and advanced ways of plantation. As a beginner, you are advised to follow the basic systems. One of the easiest and basic methods of hydroponics is the Deep Water Culture system. It is easy to maintain and requires very little care and maintenance. It is one of the methods that can be maintained by a beginner as well as a well established gardener. 

Introduction to Deep Water Culture method 

This is a popular way of hydro plantation. It is also the easiest one to follow. You would not have to deal with a plethora of equipment for this process. Also, you would not have to possess in-depth gardening knowledge to successfully execute this method.

“Deep water culture (DWC) is a hydroponic system for the processing of plants by suspending the roots of the plant in a nutrient-rich, oxygenated water solution.”

This technique uses floating rafts to suspend plant roots onto a water reservoir, sometimes 8-12 inches deep, also known as raft / pond or float systems. Deep water culture is relatively inexpensive to set up and can easily be replicated by a home grower, opposed to other hydroponic methods, such as the nutrient film technique (NFT). Since there is a sufficiently large pool of nutrient-rich water for each plant, there is pH, EC, and temperature buffering, which ensures that these system components will not fluctuate. The roots of the plant are soaked in the solution, allowing it eternal access to nutrients, water, and oxygen. Deep water culture is considered the purest type of hydroponics by others. It does not require high maintenance and has a simple setup. 

Light  is also an important factor in Deep Water Culture method. Plants need light to survive. You would have to ensure that the garden you are setting up gets adequate light. If you are fortunate enough to get ample amounts of sunlight, you can skip the process of getting a light fixture. However, in case of lack of adequate natural light, set up a light system for the plants. Use bulbs to provide the required heat to the plants. Make sure to fix the bulb at least 24 inches away from the plant. However, if you are using LED light, you can fix it 6 inches away from the plant as these lights don’t create much heat.

Plants that can be grown with Deep Water Culture method

Remember that this method is suitable for plants that have a faster growing rate and small life cycle and which requires excess water supply. These types of plants are water hungry. Therefore, these plants get adequate water from this method. However, tomatoes are not the suitable plants for this method, even though tomatoes require a lot of water to survive.   

Types of Deep Water Culture Methods:

Based on usage and technology Deep Water Culture method can be classified into three types.

Simple Deep Water Culture for Hobby Purpose

  • To begin with this method, you would need a bucket for your plant, nutrients or fertilizer, water, growing mediums and of course, plants.
  • In order to keep the solution, you should use a clean bucket or old tank and put a floating surface such as Styrofoam on top to house the net pots.
  • In DWC systems, plants should have only their roots immersed in the solution.
  • There should not be any portion of the stem or foliage submerged.
  • The bubbles of the air stone will pop out of the surface and splash on the exposed roots, so that they are not at risk of drying out.
  • Use plants instead of seeds to set up your first hydroponics garden. You would be able to eliminate all the chances of failure this way.
  • As you gain confidence with the plantation method and understand the proper way to grow plants, you can begin to use seed.

Recirculating Deep Water Culture Method(RDWC):

  • Most generally, RDWC bins are wired together using a PVC pipe.
  • A pump is often attached to the front of the system that draws water into a control bucket through a line from the rear of the system. Generally, this return line has a spin philtre on it that philtres debris from the water before touching the pump.
  • The individual containers, including the control are aerated.
  • The major downside to RDWC is that in these environments, illness can spread rapidly, which can encourage the movement of pathogens from one reservoir to another.

Commercial Deep Water Culture Method:

  • Typically, there is a big pond where crops float on a raft.
  • In cubes (such as rockwool, oasis, or other media), seedlings are germinated and then transplanted into the rafts.
  • During the growth cycle (higher density at first, and lower density later), plants can be re-spaced.
  • Through air pumps or recirculation, the nutrient solution is oxygenated, water is cooled to a temperature between 18-24°C to preserve sufficient dissolved oxygen concentration, which is critical for plant development.
  • Chilling the water also tends to avoid, and prolong bolting, infections such as pythium.
  • Acid or base injectors and fertiliser injectors, respectively, are used to regulate PH (optimum 5.5-6.0) and EC (dependent on crop).
  • To ensure that the plants get the right amount of light, supplemental lighting may be installed. Lighting depends on the crop and on the crop’s stage of development.
  • Usually, in deep water culture, only short-statured crops such as leafy greens and herbs are commercially planted as rafts pass across the pond and taller plants (such as tomatoes or cucumbers) will need trellising. Lettuce is the most common commercial deep water cultivation crop.

Important Note:

You must use RO water for the plantation. This is to ensure that you don’t end up harming your garden. In case, you are using tap water, you should ensure proper pH balance. This would ensure safety of the plants. You would need a testing kit to measure the pH balance of the water.    

Advantages of Deep Water Culture method:

  1. Cheap and easy set up: With a fast run to the pet shop and nearby nursery to pick up the air pump and nutrients, deep water culture systems can be created cheaply and conveniently at home, unlike many hydroponic systems.
  2. Low maintanance: There is very little maintenance required once a DWC system is set up.When required, just replenish the nutrient solution and make sure that your pump is flowing oxygen to the air stone.Usually, the nutrient solution needs replenishment only every 2-3 weeks, but this depends on the size of the plants.

Disadvantages of Deep Water Culture method:

  1. Temperature control: In case of the conventional method of DWC, The water is The water is stagnant and non-recirculating in a DWC device, so it can be more difficult to monitor the temperature.
  2. Plants grown: Deep water culture systems are specialized at growing herbs and lettuce, but they struggle with larger plants that grow more slowly. It is not suitable for plants that bloom. However, in a DWC scheme, you can cultivate plants such as tomatoes, bell peppers, and squash with some extra effort.
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