From city residents living in small apartments to giant commercial hydroponic farms, everyone can use Drip system hydroponics to produce abundant harvests. It is the most popular among all the hydroponic systems.
This kind of low-flow irrigation is very water-efficient, preventing waste due to evaporation by providing moisture through slow drip at the base of your plants instead of mimicking rainfall from above.
Like anything in life, the Drip System has advantages and disadvantages, in this article will discuss the Drip system hydroponics pros and cons and how to avoid them for a healthy and abundant harvest.
What Is Drip System Hydroponics?
A Drip system hydroponics is an active hydroponic system, meaning it uses a pump to feed your plants’ roots with water and nutrient solution regularly. And as the name suggests, a Drip system uses small emitters to drip the water and nutrient solution directly onto your plants.
If you design it for plants in separate containers regulated individually, your hydroponic drip system will gradually and steadily provide moisture and nutrients exactly when and where it is required.
Or, you can build a hydroponic drip system that automatically turns on to provide an adequate solution to saturate the growing medium in your plants’ root zone and then turns off to let any unused solution drain away.
However, a typical and well-suited application of drip system hydroponics is vertical farming. You need to pump the water solution to the top of the system, and gravity will do the rest.
How Does Drip System Hydroponics Actually Work?
A drip system hydroponics delivers water and nutrient solution to the roots of plants via drip emitters by using a pump located in the nutrient solution reservoir. The pump connected to a timer automates and regulates the irrigation schedule. You can also arrange your system to ensure that there is at least one emitter driving the solution straight to the root mass of every plant.
And if your emitters have mechanisms enabling you to control their output, you can adjust the adequate amount of solution each plant receives according to that specific plant’s needs.
However, remember that a drip system hydroponics should not be complicated to operate. For instance, with simple vertical gardens, all you need are the drip emitters at the very top.
Whether it’s a regular, vertical, or horizontal growing system, the nutrient solution will flow through the growing medium. When it arrives at the bottom, the unused will be either returned to the reservoir for reuse or discarded.
Watch the video below for further information on how drip system hydroponics works.
How Do You Set up a Hydroponic Drip System?
Always remember that drip system hydroponics is very flexible and scalable depending on the size and complexity of your growing system. However, for a basic drip system, you will need the following essential items:
- Drip Emitters: The number of drip emitters will depend on the number of plants you plan to grow. They are readily available online on Amazon (a link to purchase), at garden centers, or at your local hydroponic suppliers.
- Thin Tubing: You can use Spaghetti Tubing to connect mainline Drip emitters to angle drippers in your drip irrigation systems for watering containers or fruit trees. They are also available on the market and online on Amazon (a link to purchase) and are perfect for a drip emitter.
- PVC Tubing is the main line that carries the water and nutrients from the reservoir pump to the emitters. The length and number of tubes needed will vary depending on the size and complexity of your setup. For smaller home-based setups, two-inch (5.08 cm) tubes are enough.
- Water Pump: a standard submersible pump is generally more than enough for a basic system. Content of between 120-300 gallons per minute should be sufficient for smaller setups.
- A Tray: In smaller recirculating setups, you can get the best results by having all the pots drain into a regular tray, which is a simpler and easier option than having separate run-off tubes from every pot to the reservoir.
- A Large Bucket or Bin that serves as a reservoir. Choose between 10-20 gallon volumes depending on the size of your setup.
- Small pots for your plant
- Aquarium-grade silicone sealant
- A garden timer for the pump
- A power drill and hacksaw or PVC cutter to cut the pipes
- A hydroponic growing medium like coco coir
The basic setup of a hydroponic Drip system is simple. First, place the pump inside the reservoir, and connect it to the emitters using the PVC and spaghetti tubing. Next, place individual drip emitters into the growing medium in each pot.
Don’t forget to have suitable drainage holes in the pots. Surprisingly, you can also get the system to work without drip emitters. For example, you can poke holes in the spaghetti tubing and connect that directly to the growing medium instead.
However, the emitters do provide additional control over the flow of water. Furthermore, put the pots in the tray and then place the setup to drain the run-off into the reservoir. Give it at least several inches (cm) of height advantage over the reservoir for gravity to affect.
You need a pump to drive the water back in if the reservoir is higher. And finally, connect the timer to the pump power source, and set it to run on a daily schedule, for instance, 5 minutes 3 times per day. But, of course, it can vary depending on the plant’s water requirements.
Why Choose Drip System Hydroponics?
Here are a few reasons why you might consider adopting a drip system hydroponics:
- A drip system hydroponics is very flexible and suitable for most plants.
- You can easily adapt it to tailor your plants’ individual needs.
- It provides a regular quantity of nutrient solutions to all plants and excellent root aeration.
- It is relatively easy to manage.
- It optimizes water usage, particularly compared with other types of hydroponics systems.
What Are Drip System Hydroponics Pros and Cons?
Drip system hydroponics has many advantages over other types of hydroponics. Here are a few benefits of drip system hydroponics.
Advantages of a Wick System Hydroponics
- Simplicity: Drip System Hydroponics is very simple to build and use for growing plants year-round.
- You can create yours with relatively reasonable-priced equipment.
- And you don’t need to worry about the precision tuning of the system or be concerned that your plant roots are suffering from dryness in case of malfunctioning the watering cycle or power outages because the growing medium will continue to provide moisture for a while even after the dripping has stopped.
- Versatility: Perhaps the principal reason people widely use drip system hydroponics is its versatility. It can be adapted for both small gardens and large-scale commercial operations and is suitable for growing various plants, including larger plants such as melons, tomatoes, and squash that other hydroponic systems can’t support.
- Efficiency: Because it enables you to have a great deal of control over the drip locations, nutrient amounts, and watering schedule, drip system hydroponics can be highly resource-efficient and automated.
Disadvantages of a Drip System Hydroponics
Like any type of hydroponics, drip system hydroponics also has a few downsides to keep in mind.
- Dependency on electricity as compared to passive systems such as the wicking system that don’t require any moving parts
- Hassle of dealing with pH and nutrient fluctuations, especially in recovery systems
- Drip system hydroponics requires high-accuracy cycle timers for precision solution delivery for proper operation.
- Emitter Clogging – The primary disadvantage to drip system hydroponics is that the drip emitters tend to become clogged. Unfortunately, it is a problem that can plague any hydroponic drip system causing algae growth and nutrient mineral buildup.
Tips to Avoid Emitter Clogging:
- Constantly Monitor the pH level of your nutrient solution in the reservoir based on the solubility of your nutrient formula to ensure that the nutrients are completely dissolved.
- Check the drip emitters frequently; tap them with your finger to loosen any residue that may have accumulated inside.
- Regularly clean your whole Drip system hydroponics well between growing cycles to prevent bacteria and algae buildup, including rinsing, sanitizing your growing medium, and cleaning and flushing your irrigation system out with nitric acid.
What Plants Can You Grow With Drip System Hydroponics?
The drip system hydroponics is ideal for various plants and herbs because it gives you better control over the water and nutrient inputs while working well with different growing media.
Drip systems are also suitable for larger plants that require more extensive growing media, retaining larger amounts of moisture for a more extended period. Therefore, the larger plants get proper hydration and nutrition in a drip setup despite the slow watering system.
It is preferable to use a slow-draining medium for the best results. The most common options in this category include Rockwool, coconut coir, or peat moss. You can also use different media, such as clay pellets, gravel, and perlite.
|List of plants you can grow with your Drip System Hydroponics|
Overall, a drip system is a very adaptable and practical way to do hydroponics. It is suitable for a broad range of plants and herbs and offers better water and nutrient supply control.
And once you are familiar with the Drip system hydroponics pros and cons and set it up correctly, the system runs on its own with minimal oversight.