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Abstract: This article talks about the various systems that are commonly used for hydroponic gardening. Depending on your resources, imagination, and budget, you can choose from any one of these systems for your indoor gardening hobby. The various Hydroponic systems can be categorized as active or passive systems. Active systems usually involve a pump to rapidly supply the water mixed nutrient solution to the roots of the plants. Passive systems, on the other hand, are dependent upon a medium such as wick which takes capillary action in absorbing the nutrient solution and passing it along to the plant roots. The draw back here is that passive systems are unable to provide the necessary requirement of oxygen for adequate plant growth. Hydroponic systems can further be differentiated as recovery or non-recovery systems. With the former, the nutrient solution accumulates into a reservoir, once it has passed over the plant roots, and can therefore be reused. With the non-recovery system, this is not the case; the nutrient solution simply passes over the plant roots but does not drain back into the reservoir. Discussed below are the various active and passive hydroponic systems. The Wick System Perhaps the most inexpensive and easy to set up hydroponic system is the wick system. All that is involved in its operations is a candle or lantern wick, that take capillary action is supplying the nutrient solution, stored in a reservoir, to the plant’s roots. Perlite or vermiculite are usually the growing media used in this passive system. The drawback of this system is that it is unable to provide adequate oxygen to the plants, preventing them from growing well and effectively.
The Ebb and Flow System Also known as the flood and drain system, this is an active, yet low maintenance hydroponic system, that makes use of a pump immersed in a reservoir. Rockwool and grow rocks are most commonly used growing mediums in this system. The reservoir is what holds both the pump and the nutrient solution. When the pump is activated, it pushes the nutrient solution to the plant roots through an upper tray. Ideally, the pump should be kept running for about half an hour. Once a single nutrient solution flooding cycle has run its course, the liquid drains back into the reservoir, and can be reused for subsequent, periodic flooding cycles. Once the nutrient solution flooding cycle has completed its course, fresh oxygen is sucked into the growing medium as the solution accumulates back into the reservoir. This proves to be tremendously beneficial to plant growth, as it receives a complete doze of both, nutrition and oxygen that it requires for healthy cultivation. Nutrient Film Technique
The most well known of active hydroponics systems is the Nutrient Film Technique (N.F.T) system. N.F.T. systems are able to supply nutrient solution to the roots of the plants through the submersible pump for upto 24 hours, and there is no timer require to control the pump. The nutrient solution pushed into the growing tray, runs over the roots of the plants, and then accumulates back into the reservoir. In the Nutrient Film Technique, the only growing medium required is air. This system therefore proves to be rather an inexpensive one. The plant is usually supported in a small plastic basket, and the roots dangle into the nutrient solution. The one drawback of the N.F.T system is that it is rather vulnerable to power outages and pump failures, and interruption to the flow of the nutrient solution can cause the roots to dry out. Continuous Drip An active hydroponics system, the continuous drip method also involves a pump immersed in a reservoir. Additionally, the reservoir is fitted with supply lines connected to each sown plant root. This enables one to adjust the quantity of nutrition solution required for each plant. Additionally, there is a drip tray placed under the rows of the plants, which transmits the nutrition solution back to the reservoir. The growing media used in the continuous drip system are is usually Rockwool, although given its operational method, any growing medium works well with this system. Aeroponics Perhaps the most technical of all hydroponics systems, aeroponics mainly uses air for its operation. The controlling timer runs the pump, moistening the roots of plants with the nutrient solution for a few seconds every couple of minutes. The roots hang in the air, and because of this reason, they are likely to dry out if the moistening cycles are interrupted.