Hydroponic Systems

Table of contents:

Hydroponic Systems
Hydroponic Systems
Video: Hydroponic Systems
Video: Installing The Hydroponic System 2023, February

The name 'Hydroponics' comes from Latin and means 'Working Water'.

Many people think of hydroponics as growing plants with roots placed directly in water without a substrate. These are just a few of the types of hydroponic growing known as the 'Nutrient Film Technique' (NFT). There are several varieties of NFT in use around the world and is a very popular hydroponic growing method. What people don't understand is that there are literally hundreds of hydroponic gardening methods.

Hydroponic systems

There are 6 main types of hydroponic systems:

  • Wick (Wick);
  • Water Culture;
  • Intermittent flooding systems (Ebb and Flow (Flood & Drain));
  • Drip irrigation (Reversible or / Non-Reversible) (Drip (recovery or non-recovery);
  • Nutrient Film Technique (NFT);
  • Aeroponic

There are hundreds of modifications to these basic systems, but all hydroponic methods are a variation (or a combination) of these six types. Below are descriptions and pictures of each hydroponic system.

Wick system
Wick system

1. Wick system

The wick system is the simplest type of hydroponic system and is best suited for indoor hydroponics. It is a passive system, which means it has no moving parts. The nutrient solution is fed into the substrate from the reservoir through a wick.

This system can be used with a wide variety of substrates. Among the most popular are Perlite, Vermiculite, Pro-Mix, Coconut Fiber - all available at any flower shop.

The only thing that dares you from this system is that large plants and plants that require a lot of water can use up nutrient solution faster than it can flow through the wick.


Water culture (aka DWC or Deep Water Culture)

Aquatic culture is the simplest of all active hydroponic systems. The platform that holds the plants is usually made of styrofoam and floats directly on the surface of the nutrient solution. The compressor supplies air to the air stone, which bubbles the nutrient solution and supplies oxygen to the roots.

Aquatic culture is the preferred system for growing lettuce leaves, a fast growing, moisture-loving plant, making it ideal for this type of system. Very few plants, other than lettuce, can do well on this type of system.

This type of hydroponic system is great for the classroom and is very popular with teachers. A very inexpensive system that can be made from an old aquarium or other moisture-proof container.

The biggest disadvantage of this type of system is that it does not work well with large plants and plants growing for a long time.

equipment for hydroponics
equipment for hydroponics

Intermittent flooding system

Flooding system, from time to time flood the grow pan with nutrient solution and then drain the solution back into the reservoir. These actions are usually performed with a submerged pump that is associated with a timer.

When the timer turns on, the pump pumps the nutrient solution into the grow pan. When the timer turns off, the nutrient solution is drained by gravity into the reservoir. the timer is set to carry out this procedure several times a day, depending on the size and type of plant, temperature and humidity and the type of substrate used.

The flood system is versatile and can be used with a variety of substrates. The growing tray can be filled with expanded clay or gravel. Many people like to use separate potting media. This makes it easy to move plants, and manipulate plants by removing their systems or vice versa placing them in it.

The main disadvantage of systems of this type is that when using substrates like (gravel, expanded clay, perlite), there is a vulnerability to power outages, as well as to timer and pump failures. Roots can dry out quickly if watering cycles are interrupted. This problem can be mitigated somewhat by using a substrate that retains more water (Rockwool, Vermiculite, Coconut Fiber, or a good hydroponic mix like Pro-mix or Faffard).

Drip systems
Drip systems

Drip systems

Drip irrigation systems are probably the most popular type of hydroponic system used in the world. The operation is simple, the timer controls the submersible pump. The timer turns on the pump and the nutrient solution drips under the base of each plant in small drops. In the Recovery Drip System, excess nutrient solution is collected back into a reservoir for reuse. In the Non-Recovery Drip System, the solution is not reused.

Reversing systems use the nutrient solution a little more efficiently. Because the excess solution is reused. This also allows for the use of a less expensive timer since reversing systems do not require precise control of watering cycles. Non-Reversing Systems should have a more accurate timer so that it can be adjusted to ensure that the plants are receiving sufficient nutrient solution and consumption is kept to a minimum.

Non-reversible drip systems require less maintenance because the nutrient solution does not return to the reservoir, so the pH and nutrient content of the solution will not change. This means that you can fill the reservoir with a pH adjusted nutrient solution and forget about it until you need a new batch of solution. Reversible drip systems can have large changes in pH and nutrient content of the solution, and therefore the system requires periodic inspection and adjustment.

fertilizers for hydroponics
fertilizers for hydroponics

Nutrient Layer Technique (NFT)

This is the kind of hydroponic system that people think of when it comes to hydroponics. NFT systems have a constant current of the nutrient solution; a submerged pump does not require a timer. The nutrient solution is pumped into the plant tray (usually pipes), flows down the plant roots, and then flows back into the reservoir.

Usually, a substrate other than air is not used, which saves from the cost of replacing the substrate after each harvest. Usually the plant is kept in a small basket with the roots hanging in the nutrient solution.


NFT systems are very susceptible to power outages and pump failures. After interrupting the flow of nutrient solution, the roots dry out very quickly.


The aeroponic system is probably the most technologically advanced. Like NFT systems, aeroponic systems have air as their primary substrate. The roots hang in the air and are cloudy with a mist of the nutrient solution. Fogging is usually done every few minutes. Since the roots, like NFT systems, are airborne, if the fogging cycle is interrupted, they will dry out quickly.

The timer controls the feed pump just like other hydroponic systems, in addition, the aeroponic system needs a short cycle timer that turns the pump on for a few seconds every couple of minutes.

What is Substratum

A substrate is simply what the roots of plants grow in. The substrate can be a wide variety of materials, including Rockwool mineral wool, perlite, vermiculite, coconut fiber, gravel, sand or any number of other materials, even air can be the substrate. The substrate is an inert substance that does not supply any nutrients to the plants; all nutrition comes from the nutrient solution (a mixture of water and fertilizer). Therefore, you can easily manage everything that the plants receive, saturation and solution can be easily adjusted so that the plants receive only the right amount of nutrients and water. Watering cycles can be easily controlled with an inexpensive timer so that the plants get hydrated when needed.

What are the differences between hydroponic, organic conventional fertilizers?

Both the fertilizer for hydroponics and the fertilizer intended for use in soil contain three main nutrients: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K).

The main difference between a hydroponic fertilizer and a soil fertilizer is that a hydroponic fertilizer contains proper amounts of all the essential trace minerals that are not included in soil fertilizer (plants are expected to find these nutrients in soil, assuming that trace minerals in soil are actually a gift). Problems can arise in plants if one or all of the trace elements in the soil do not exist or are depleted by successive (or excessive) plantings. Hydroponic fertilizers - usually in a purer form with fewer impurities than soil fertilizers to keep them stable and better soluble in water. (See below for more information on trace minerals).

Organic fertilizers are quite different (in most cases), both in composition and in how they supply nutrients to plants than fertilizers for hydroponics or soil. Organic fertilizers rely on the action of bacteria and microorganisms to break down a substance into its essential elements so that plants can use them. Fertilizers for hydroponics and soil provide the plant with these ready-to-use elements.

What are micronutrients?

Trace elements are nutrients that are essential for healthy plant growth - calcium, magnesium, sulfur, boron, cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc. These nutrients are essential elements that the plant needs in very small quantities. Without these micronutrients, the plant can become sick and develop all kinds of problems, depending on the lack of one or another trace element (s). In the case of crops, a lack of micronutrients in the soil can mean a lack of nutrients in agricultural products, which means at best that the food is not as useful as it could be and at worst that humans can cause wasteland problems due to lack of these mandatory elements. This is why it is important to use a good quality hydroponic fertilizer,whenever you grow plants using hydroponics.

How Difficult is Hydroponic Gardening?

Hydroponic gardening can be very complex, with computers and sensors controlling everything from watering cycles to the concentration of nutrients in the nutrient solution and the amount of light the plants receive.

On the other hand, hydroponics technology can be incredibly simple, a bucket of sand with one plant and hand irrigation is the same method of hydroponic gardening. Most hobby oriented hydroponics systems are somewhere between the two extremes mentioned above.

Conventional home hydroponics systems usually consist of several main parts: a plant tray, a reservoir, a simple timer that controls a submersible pump to water the plants, and a compressor and aerator to oxygenate the nutrient solution. And of course, light is also required (either natural or artificial).

Is pH Really Important in Hydroponics?

PH control is extremely important not only in hydroponics, but also in soil cultivation. When the pH changes, plants lose their ability to absorb various nutrients.

The ability to quickly and easily check and manage pH in hydroponics is a major advantage over land gardening, where researching and adjusting pH is more difficult and time consuming.

Why does hydroponics work so well?

It's simple. You give the plant exactly what it needs, when it needs it and in the amount it needs, so the plant will be as big as genetically possible. With hydroponics this is an easy task, with soil it can be nearly impossible.

With hydroponics, plants grow in an inert substrate, they get nothing from the substrate. Plants only get what you give them, nothing else, you have complete control over pH, nutrients and nutrient levels. When grown in the ground, you really have no idea what the plants are getting, so gardening becomes a game in a 'field of miracles'. How much nutrients does the soil contain? How about essential micronutrients? Should I fertilize? How much do you need to add? Since the last application, how much has been washed away by the last watering or storm rain? Questions arise and arise. If you can't do a very expensive soil analysis, then you just don't know, you can only guess.

Hindi translation author

Growing in hydroponics

Fertilizers for hydroponics

Popular by topic