What is a hydroponic drip system?
As the name implies, a hydroponic drip system continually feeds a nutrient solution to the root zone via drippers without aggressive flooding and draining. Hydro drip systems are considered an active system, and are popular with new growers and professionals around the world because it is versatile and efficient.
A drip system is sometimes referred to as a hydroponic irrigation system. These are ideal for larger operations, because it can be difficult to achieve an efficient scale in small indoor gardens. Commercial warehouses or greenhouses will see incredible results with a hydro drip system!
Many large scale farms implement drip systems for their orchards because they are so efficient in terms of energy use and water use!
How does a hydroponic drip system work?
A hydro drip system works using many of the same components as other complete hydroponic systems. Plants are housed in a grow tray or flood table, and a hydroponic reservoir contains the nutrient solution underneath. An air pump and air stone aerate the reservoir, ensuring proper oxygen levels.
A water pump sends the nutrient solution up through a drip manifold, which has a number of drip lines corresponding to the number of plants in your system. These drip lines slowly feed the plants, and a timer regulates the water pump to ensure plants don't drown.
Like an ebb and flow system, this cycle occurs a few times a day, spacing out feeding cycles to achieve maximum nutrient absorption by the plants.
A hydroponic grow media is required for use in a hydroponic drip system, and the medium needs to breathe. This is why the cycles occur a few times a day instead of all at once.
Advantages of a hydroponic drip system
Hydroponic drip systems are one of the more efficient hydro systems available, because the grower can control exactly how many drops of water plants get. There is almost no evaporation lost, since feeding cycles are in such small, precise doses.
These hydro systems can be greatly automated, freeing you from constantly monitoring your grow room or greenhouse. The water pump and timer keeps the irrigation system running whether you are there or not!
Large commercial grow rooms and greenhouses will see the greatest results from drip systems, especially from an efficiency standpoint. The drip hoses can be very long, and drip manifolds can feed a number of plants at once, cutting down on the number of hydroponic systems needed.
A common issue with these systems is hoses getting clogged. It is important to use a hydroponic nutrient package with these, as other nutrient types (especially organic) can lead to more clogs. Be sure to clear drip lines regularly to keep issues from arising. If nothing else, we recommend a monthly flush out to remove any built up minerals and algae in the pipes and hoses.
What hydroponic drip system is best for me?
Recirculating/recovery vs non-recirculating/non-recovery
Most home growers use the recirculating/recovery drip system which is exactly as the name implies. The nutrient solution eventually passes completely through the growing media in the plant modules and returns to the reservoir. Here, it is recycled and recirculated by a pump. This increases efficiency of these systems even further!
Many commercial growers, on the other hand, use a non-recirculating/non-recovery hydroponic drip system. Contrary to what you might think, this method does not waste water or nutrient solution because excess is normally a very minute amount. Hydro drip systems are already very efficient and do not provide much more than plants need.
It is important to consider your indoor garden or grow room when selecting a hydro drip system. General Hydroponics drip systems come in a number of sizes, ranging from 1 plant to 8 plants!
If you are unsure which drip system is right for you, give our experienced growing staff a call today at 888-815-9763 and we will help set you up for success. If you want to learn more about hydroponic systems, check out this article in our learning center!