Types of Hydroponic Systems
There are two main types of hydroponic systems – closed hydroponic systems and open hydroponic systems. Hydroponic systems that do not involve growing media are usually closed systems, while hydroponic systems that involve growing media (container plants), may be closed or open systems.
Closed Hydroponic Systems
Closed hydroponic systems the same nutrient solution is recirculated and the nutrient concentrations are monitored and adjusted accordingly.
Keeping the nutrient balance in such hydroponic systems is a challenge and the hydroponic nutrient solution has to be sampled and analyzed at least once a week. The nutrient solution composition has to be adjusted according to the results. If not managed properly, the nutrient solution might get out of balance.
Closed hydroponic systems include both simple hydroponic systems, as well as sophisticated ones. Here is a short brief of some of these methods:
Deep Water Culture (DWC) hydroponic systems
This is the most simple type hydroponic systems. In this type of hydroponic systems plants are suspended in an oxygen-enriched nutrient solution.
The Wick hydroponic systems
This is a passive hydroponic system, in which wicks run from the base of the plant container down to a reservoir and draw the nutrient solution upwards.
Ebb and Flow – This is the most popular hydroponic system due to its low maintenance and low cost. It is widely used for plug production and potted plants. In this type of system the growing bed is flooded with nutrient solution and then it is allowed to drain. The duration and frequency of the flood depends on factors such as the type of growing medium used, size of containers and plants water requirements.
NFT hydroponic systems – This system uses a continuous nutrient solution flow over the roots. This results in a thin film of nutrient solution around the roots, allowing them both aeration and access to nutrients.
Open hydroponic Systems
In open hydroponic systems a fresh nutrient solution is introduced for each irrigation cycle. The nutrient solution is usually delivered to the plants using a drip system. In open hydroponic systems an adequate run-off must be maintained in order to keep nutrient balance in the root zone.