Types of Hydroponics Systems in Conventional Use


Water culture

The simplest of all, a hydroponics system of said nature can be built with minimum efforts and resources. What it involves, is a plant supported by a growth medium dipped into a rather large sized nutrient reservoir. The most economical of the lot, this configuration is often employed in order to achieve large root mass.

As the roots are constantly surrounded by water, the temperature of the same is required to be maintained to prevent occurrence of root rot. Apart from that, the water culture many a times proves incapable to support long term plants.

Wick System

Being a more widely used technique, the wick system is commonly found with its passive version. This involves use of a wick to transport nutrients from the reservoir to a rather absorbent growth medium. Varieties of growing media are used, such as Perlite, Vermiculite, Pro-Mix and Coconut Fiber etc. This technique helps to maintain the air to water ratio along the roots, creating more humid conditions.

However, cleaning becomes a hassle at regular time, as the evaporation process with nutrient uptake often leads to formation of salt deposits. Also, the large plants take up the nutrients at faster rates, leaving the possibility of drying of growth medium.

Drip system

This system employs a submerged pump in the nutrients reservoir, which force the solution through a drip line constantly releasing it to the base of each plant. A ‘Recovery’ version of the same involves, collecting the excess runoff of the solution. A ‘Non-Recovery’ one instead leads to wastage of nutrients solution if a rather expensive and precise timer is not used.

An alleged weakness in this design is its dependence on an automated system. So, a power failure can certainly result in drying of roots. Even in the recovery version of the system, periodic monitoring becomes necessary to avoid shifts in pH and nutrient levels.

Ebb and Flow

Alternatively regarded as the ‘Flood and Drain’ system, the process is simply a periodic dipping of roots in nutrient solution. A pump forces the nutrient solution through the roots of the plants dangling in the grow trays. The plants are mostly supported in channels arranged in gradual descent. Thus the gravity in turn sends back the nutrient solution into the reservoir, hence allowing the air instead.

A rather complex system to setup, the design also requires a timer to regulate periodic flooding of roots for several times in a day. In addition, any changes in nutrient composition must be entertained in a separated tank altogether. With so much dependence on the automated systems, this system is also prone to failure in case of a power outage. This issue is however mitigated with the use of water retaining media such as Rockwool, Vermiculite and Coconut fiber etc.

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)

An advance method in hydroponics systems, the NFT system relives the need of a growth medium. Instead the plants roots are suspended in air in a grow tray, as a film of nutrient solution is allowed to flow though them. The nutrients solution escaping the system is then recycled back as it is replenished to the previously determined nutrient levels.

However, with its constantly active parts, the NFT system another type, exposed to the threat of power failure.


One of the most advance systems in hydroponics, aeroponics system tries to accelerate the nutrient uptake process by plant roots. So, in this type, the nutrient solution is directly sprayed onto the roots which are suspended in a sealed structure. As the uptake of nutrients is direct with similar levels of accessibility for air, the general growth in such a system is much faster. Aeroponics is often used in cloning process, for root plants and even in recovery process of a crop.

With automated system of nutrients distribution, aeroponics system is no stranger to failure due to power outage. Thus constant monitoring becomes imperative for a successful cycle.

Along with above mentioned types, some refinements in the designs have led to development of less prominent versions of hydroponics systems. Few of these includes;, Flooded Tube system, Foggerponics, Aquaponics, Undercurrent Integration and also an ‘All in One’ system which links different types catering to various stages of plants. The ideal configuration however, is something that a grower may find appropriate for his needs and economical as well.


Source by Nike S Jackson

Agnes Brown

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