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Two Main Types of Hydroponic Systems

Monday, November 18, 2013

Today more and more individuals are growing their crops with the use of hydroponic systems, and with really good reason. The growth rate of hydroponic plants is 30 to 50 % faster than typical soil based plants, cultivated under the same conditions. In general, hydroponic plants are much healthier since the required nutrients for optimal plant growth are distributed straight to their root system. The plants don't have to look hard in the soil for the nutrients they require, enabling them to reduce the use of their energy for healthier and faster growth and greater yields.

If you are all set to personally discover the benefits of hydroponic gardening, there are two principal types of systems that you can make use of, the recirculating and run to waste system.

Recirculating System

The recirculating or recovery systems pump the nutrients and water from the primary tank to the root system of the plants. The unused nutrients are returned to the tank which is to be used for another cycle. You can use either a recirculating system without a medium or with a medium. The most popular recirculating system without a medium is the Nutrient Film Technique or NFT or aeroponics, while the prevalent growing media for recovery systems are perlite, rockwool and expanded clay. These types of systems are quite well-known among hydroponic growers because they are a lot more affordable than the run to waste systems.

But, the use of recovery systems also has its disadvantages. Because these systems maximize cycled nutrients rather than fresh and new set of nutrient solution, it is important to regularly check and correct their pH and EC levels. This adds to the maintenance time you will need to spend in the grow room. If you neglect to maintain the ideal pH and EC levels, the system can become unstable. Another possible problem that you may face with recirculating systems is the quick spread of infectious diseases including pythium root rot which can quickly be passed on throughout the system as a result of the re-circulation of contaminated water and nutrient solution.

Run to Waste System

In the run to waste or non-recovery system, water and nutrients are supplied from the tank, to the plant roots, through the bottom of the pot and straight right to the ground, waste basket or catchment dish. Extra nutrients and water are thrown away and never reused. The wick system is an excellent example of the run to waste type of hydroponic system. Despite the fact, it is more expensive to manage than recovery type, the run to waste system gives more pH and EC stability. And in case some of your plants acquire root disease, there are minimal possibilities of cross contamination considering that the nutrient solution is not recirculated.

According to Mike Biggs, owner of CX Hydroponics, "There are a number of examples of the two types of systems in the market. Nevertheless, the success of any of these systems is based on the management of it. It is a great idea to obtain a basic awareness of hydroponics and what these systems are expected to do before you start growing."

If you are looking for a guide to hydroponic gardening for beginners, simply go to