Media bed, nutrient film, and Deep Water Culture (DWC) are the three most famous techniques that the users of aquaponics systems implement for growing their plants. Of these, the DWC technique is believed to be the most effective type of hydroponic system. If you aim to set up and maintain a large-scale or commercial system, deep water aquaponics is an ideal choice.
Deep Water Culture Aquaponics
Also known as hydroponics, Deep Water Culture refers to a technique of growing plants by sustaining their roots in a solution rich in oxygen, water, and nutrients. There is no substrate media here.
This is unlike other methods of hydroponics such as drip and ebb and flow wherein the plants are simply watered continuously. While the plants are hung, watered ceaselessly, and are exposed in the air in other systems, they are soaked into the oxygenated water 24/7 in the DWC system.
The word ‘deep’ refers to the practice of submerging the roots deep in the water. They are encased in a grow cup or a net pot hung from a lid such that the roots remain submerged in the nutrient-rich solution.
Working of Deep Water Culture Aquaponics
Many of us may now think that the presence of too much water could suffocate the plants. However, this does not happen in the Deep Water Culture system. Apart from water, the plants also get enough oxygen, light, and nutrients to thrive.
For this system to work, you need a reservoir full of water and oxygen. The oxygen comes from a small system of falling water or an air pump due to which air bubbles go upwards from the liquid solution to reach the roots directly.
Into the reservoir, oxygen is pumped typically via an air pump and then raised via an air stone. This oxygen enables the greens to absorb the optimum amount of nutrition and water, giving way to quick, prolific growth. The resultant growth in many cases is better than that in the soil.
The air pump and air stone work 24/7 or otherwise the roots are likely to suffer due to waterlogging. Once a good root cluster is seen, the quantity of water is reduced in the reservoir, usually a bucket.
Deep Water Culture Aquaponics process
So, the entire process goes like this:
An airline connects the air stone to the air pump, which is put in the reservoir. Then, to the reservoir, water and nutrients are added.
The plants are positioned in net pots hanging over the nutrient-rich solution in the reservoir. This net pot is typically a cup made from recyclable and stiff plastic mesh due to which your plants get a strong root system. With it, the roots tend to spread from all different directions. This is admirable, as upholds a robust root system.
Properly oxygenated water facilitates the roots to remain plunged deep in water throughout the plant’s life cycle. Due to the oxygen from bubbles and water’s dissolved oxygen, the roots do not get damaged. In DWC, the more the bubbles, the better it is. They should be sufficient enough to make the water appear as if it is boiling.
The deep water culture aquaponics system is truly simple but works efficiently to ensure prolific growth of plants.
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