Have you ever wonder if you could grow crops over winter or in a site with very limited horizontal space? Or even to areas with no arable land? Hydroponics can make all of these possible. Good news is: you can even create a hydroponic system yourself.
Hydroponics as a non-conventional method for crop production
Hydroponics is an increasingly popular method of growing plants in a liquid nutrient solution with or without using an artificial media (soilless cultivation). This system of production was seen to be viable in different vegetable crops, also works for several ornamental crops. You can create this system if you add some effort. And this be done correctly if you are following a proper guide.
This method of crop production was first created during WWII, to produce fresh food for the troops. The U.S. Army had used hydroponic culture and by 1950s, it was adopted by commercial farms in different continents including America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Nowadays, commercial farms and even small-scale growers can use this system of food production. It is commonly being established by commercial installer of hydroponics but there is also a growing demand for Do-It-Yourself (DIY) hydroponics.
Advantages and disadvantages of hydroponic culture
– Year-round growing season. Hydroponic culture makes it possible for the regions with cold climate and extremely low winter temperature to grow crops all year-round since the system is enclosed with controlled environmental conditions particularly the temperature, nutrient and light. In building your own hydroponics, you can purchase an environment controller to have.
– Higher plant density. Hydroponically-grown crops can be sustained in higher density as compared to that of the conventional growing method in soil which has to consider limited population to prevent competition of roots for needed resources. For growers who creates their own hydroponic system, they can design the population of their crops and well as how to expand it.
– Plants can grow anywhere. It is also an advantage to create your own hydroponic culture which can be easily incorporated in buildings and houses.
– Efficient water consumption. Having your own hydroponic system can help you save more water. Crops can immediately reach and utilize water with lesser loss resulting to evaporation as compared to that of in-ground application. This constitutes to around 80-90% savings in water consumption of the plants. Furthermore, nutrient solution can also be recycled in this system until it becomes unusable and has to be disposed.
– High cost to set up. In creatingyour own hydroponics, be prepared as it is generally expensive as compared to the traditional garden. Depending on the type and size of the system to be used, the cost varies.
– High dependence on electricity. To create hydroponic system, it will be highly dependent on the electricity, power outages will definitely have a huge impact in the entire system. If prolonged, it can be detrimental to the plants.
– High maintenance requirement on creating hydroponic system. As for the maintenance and monitoring of your own hydroponics, it is expected to require a lot of technical expertise. Management of the nutrient solution is also very detailed considering the need for regular flushing and replacement on top of cleaning the system parts to avoid clogging.
Different Growing Systems
In creating your hydroponics, it is important to have knowledge on the different growing systems. It encompasses the method on how nutrient solution is applied. Is it through liquid or aggregate? Open or closed? And Passive or Active?
– Wick System. This uses simple passive system where nutrient solution is drawn up to plant roots though a wick in the growing media. It is ideally used for smaller scale production.
– Deep Water Culture. This system uses simple active system where plant roots stay submerged in the nutrient solution and where plants are suspended in a platform. The oxygen for root consumption is being supplied by the air pump or air stone.
– Ebb & Flow (Flood & Drain) System. This system uses a submerged pump to have temporary flood with nutrient solution for grow tray which later on will be drained back into reservoir.
– Drip System. The peculiar element of this system is the drip lines that supplies the nutrient solution to the base of each plant. The time controls the submersed pump and the nutrient reservoir is separated. It adopts an active system of nutrient application.
– Nutrient-Film Technique (NFT) System. This system is being largely used for commercial production specially for short harvest crops. This utilizes active system with no timer required.
– Aeroponics System. It uses active system of nutrient application and is considered to be the most technologically-advanced among the different systems. In this method, the plants are suspended with roots hanging below. The mist only provides less nutrients as compared to the other system, advance timer is require to ensure the higher frequency of misting.
Nutrient solution for hydroponics
To create your hydroponics, it is also important to have a knowledge on the nutrient solution for your crops. The sole source of nutrients to the plants which can either be in concentrated form or soluble forms that comes available in different mixes.
Different Types of Nutrients needed by Hydroponically-Grown Crops
– This includes Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium.
– Secondary Nutrients. This includes Magnesium (Mg), Calcium (Ca) and Sulfur (S).
– These are essential nutrients needed by crops in smaller quantities including Zn, Fe, Cu, B, Mo, Mn, Cl and Ni.
Factors to consider in managing the nutrient solution
– Water quality. It must be ensured that the quality of the water is high. For hydroponics, it is safe to use tap and well water with less than 140 PPM while water with more than 300 PPM of dissolved solids should be filtered with reverse-osmosis filter.
– Most plants grown in hydroponics required a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5 since most nutrients are available on this level. pH however fluctuates from time to time hence, close monitoring should be done at least daily. Should the pH needs to be adjusted, solutions such as pH UP or pH Down that is commercially available in the market can be added to the solution.
– Electrical Conductivity (EC). The ability of the solution to conduct an electrical current indicates the nutrient concentrations. Generally, nutrient solutions should have an EC value of 500 to 2000 PPM wherein plants grow best within 800 to 1200 PPM.
– Dissolved Oxygen. The amount of oxygen content in the water is an important property to consider in hydroponics since plants also breath air through their roots.
Make your Own Substrates for Hydroponics
Generally among vegetable crops, media such as peatmoss rockwool, perlite, vermiculite, sawdust, bark, sand among others are commonly used.
– This material had already established its used in the production especially in greenhouse growing.
– Organic Substrates. It was found that incorporation of maize stem, which is a worldwide available organic material, in the medium can induce earlier fruiting in soilless production.
Commercially Available Technologies To Help in Making Your Own Hydroponics System
Fully Automated Growing System for Crop Production by Grow Director
Building your build hydroponic system requires a lot of details but, managing it calls for more technical know-how. Nowadays, commercially available controller for the greenhouse systems are useful in managing the components of the production site up to the smallest detail. Grow controller of GrowDirector makes it possible to have a smart automated process of controlling the needs of your automated growing system.
It is reliable and easy to use environmental controller can be all use for an indoor, greenhouse, soil or hydroponic system. It makes contolling easy as well by having direct access, monitoring and control of growing parameters using the grow room controller’s touch screen, web, or smartphone application. In making your hydroponic system, make sure to have this technology available.
Remote Controlled System
The entire system once connected with GrowDirector to the internet, it can be monitored or remotely control without the need to download a software. This can be done by two ways, either thru an application or through your browser.
Build your own hydroponic system
– – Notification. Upon connecting the GrowDirector to the internet, it can send you any kind of notification through an email or the like should any issues arise.
– Preventive maintenance. GrowDirector notifies the grower should an issue arise and before the damage becomes irreversible. When an anomaly is detected, the monitoring system process knows and it sends a notification alert to the user in real-time.
– Lights. For the lights, 4 universal outlets (socket box, up to 2 boxes can be connected total of 8 outlets) are availble which supports up to 1,200W for US and Canada and up to 2,300W for the EU for the total outlets.
CO2 Controller for Grow Room and Greenhouse
An innovative technology in growth automation is the new CO2 controller for grow room. It is ready to be used as soon as it is unboxed. Just plug-in the lego-like plugins and watch how your plants grow at its finest.
Highly Sophisticated CO2 Sensor
In making your own hydroponics, this highly innovative tehnology helps in accurately detecting and measuring the levels of CO2 in the grow room through the use of advanced features such as an infrared source, an infrared detector and an interference filter. The sensor is ideally used for greenhouse CO2 controllers and hydroponic CO2 controllers to detect and measure.
Carbon dioxide levels
Too low or too high concentration levels of Carbon dioxide can result in adverse effects on plant’s growth, which is why GrowDirector is perfect as a CO2 meter for grow room. Notification will be sent right away by this sophisticated device if there is a problem with the conditions around your plant.
The kit comes with 10 built-in relays which once connected, you can control numerous devices and other equipment. The relay of each device controls the external relay and this, in turn, supplies electricity to the equipment.
The Basics of GrowDirector 2.0
The easy to use controller CO2 allows you to handle your entire plant environment directly from your mobile application or desktop. 8 different sensors can be used to manage the system which allow you to make decisions from anywhere at any time.
Automated Hydroponic System- Superior Kit
For a more sophisticated hydoponic system, GrowDirector offeres this Hydroponic Superior Kit and GrowDirector software which makes a fully automated hydroponic system for indoor plant growth that gives you real-time feedback and control over your plants.
This encompasses management of temperature, humidity, pH, EC and more, or check on progress, track plant development and make informed decisions, the hydroponic environmental control system gives you all necessary updates. By responding to real-time sensor readings, you can easily take full control of your plants and hydroponic needs using the mobile application.
Environmental Controller for Greenhouse and Grow Room-Base Kit
If the plant growers would be staying far from his greenhouse during a certain period, the greenhouse environmental controller (Base Kit) with the GrowDirector software is a grow room climate controller can be the solution as it is designed to give plant growers complete control over their plants from a distance.
Real-time monitoring of your plants and managing your plants when your away can be done through automatation of your plant-care routine and make adjustments to factors like light, temperature and humidity. When you are out, greenhouse controller provides you with important details and allows you to make quick and important decisions to impact the overall health of your plants.
The Environmentally-friendly Base Kit
The GDA software, working alongside our Environmental Base Kit work, makes it possible to experiencethe best control of the system from the distance. With environmental controller, humidity and temperature in greenhouse can be controlled anytime from any distance with the specially adapted application. This allows gives the grower an opportunity to see the plants flourish.
All of these innovations can offer a lot of convenience in creating and maintaining your own greenhouse.