Hydroponic Drip System | Information and Guide

Drip Hydroponic System

Overview


The hydroponic drip system is very similar to standard drip irrigation system that you might find in your backyard or in commercial farming and it is one of the six basic hydroponic systems. It is a pretty straight forward system that uses low-flow irrigation tubing to supply a continual amount of nutrients to the plants. The rest of this page will give you a better understanding of the parts so you can decide if the drip system is right for you.


Components


Reservoir


Like all of the other hydroponic systems, the drip system needs somewhere to store the nutrient solution. As opposed to the systems that suspend the roots directly in the nutrient solution, this reservoir never touches the plants directly which means you don’t have to flush it periodically or keep an eye out for disease.


Pump, Tubing, & Emitter


The main component of this hydroponic system is the low flow (or spaghetti) tubing and the pump that pushes the water through it, and the emitter (or nozzle) that controls the flow of the nutrients to the plants.


The pump creates enough pressure to push the nutrient solution through the tubing and out of the emitter. You can purchase different diameter tubing and different types of nozzles to control the amount of solution that makes it to the growing medium. One of the benefits of this system is that it is easily expandable. You just have to buy another tube, run it to your new plants, and that’s it!


Timer


A continual stream of nutrients may be too much for many plants. Instead, you can hook up a timer to the nutrient pump so that it supplies the solution to the plants at set intervals. You will need to experiment with different times and durations, but this has been found to be a very successful method.


Growing Medium


Unlike the DWC system, the hydroponic drip system uses a growing medium to absorb the nutrient solution and hold the roots. Common types of growing medium are coco, peat moss, rock wool or clay pellets. You want to use enough of it that any excess nutrient solution that is dispensed from the tubing is held for a short time until the plants absorb it.


You are also going to want to design a process to handle all of the waste. Even if you choose the perfect size tubing and emitters, the plants won’t absorb all of the nutrient solution that you supply to them. Depending on the plant, it may only need some of the nutrients from the solution and the rest will go to waste. One common way to handle this is to catch the excess nutrient solution in a basin underneath the plant. You can either put this back into the main reservoir and recycle it, or you can dispose of it through the drain.



Advantages


Using drip system hydroponics is a very low maintenance system that you can run unattended for long periods of time with oversight. It is also very efficient since it only provides a small amount of nutrients to the plant. If you find that you are wasting too much of the nutrient solution, you can add a smaller emitter or turn down the pump.


Overall, it is a pretty inexpensive system to build and doesn’t use up a lot of space. Most of the parts can be found at your local hardware or garden store and for a few dollars can you start growing your own hydroponic plants.


The drip system can also support a wide variety of plant types. Since each plant can use its own container, larger plants that are not suitable for deep water culture may thrive using this system.


Disadvantages


Initially, you will need to keep a close eye on how much of the nutrient solution you are supplying to the plants. It won’t hurt the plants if you use too much, but it will increase the waste and cost. If you don’t supply enough solution, the plants will die.


There are moving parts in the motor that can cause problems if they break. Generally, the plants can survive for a while through hand watering or with just the nutrients absorbed in the growing medium, but be sure to replace the pump quickly if it fails.


Lastly, the emitters can get clogged if there is a buildup of nutrient salts. Just keep an eye on them every so often and replace the ones that get clogged.


Common Questions


What are the best plants for drip system hydroponics?


Like most of the other hydroponic systems, leafy vegetables are great candidates. Lettuce, Kale, Chard will grow well using this system. However, even large plants such as tomatoes and peppers can grow well as long as the container used to support the plant is large enough and you have sized the tubes and emitters correctly.


Summary


The drip hydroponic system is a great starter system for those of you who are just getting into hydroponic gardening. If you are an absolute beginner, the DWC or wick systems may be more appropriate, but if you are looking to step up a little more this is a great way to learn how to care for the plants. We hoped you enjoyed this information. Please get in contact with us if you have any additional questions.




Naomi

Join me as I document my gardening journey and share my tips, tricks, and techniques on how to have a blast while growing the plants you love. I hope this resource can be a great reference for you!

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