The term deep water culture is a very common lingo in the world of hydroponics. Any newbie venturing into this modern form of agriculture will come across this word very often.
Hydroponics is a form of agriculture where farmers grow plants in water rather than in soil.
In so doing, they eliminate all the challenges of traditional farming and maximize production.
The water used in hydroponics is mixed with nutrients that are useful for plant growth.
Such nutrients may be obtained from synthetic fertilizers or organic manure e.g. cow dung.
To convey these nutrients to the plants, there are a couple of ingenious methods that can be used.
Some farmers opt to use a drip irrigation method while others decide to use the ebb and flow technique.
In this technique, plants’ roots are submerged and taken out of the water periodically. However, the most popular technique; which is also the focus of this article; is the (DWC).
This is a known method of hydroponics, which is a method which growers let the plant’s roots to be suspended within a reservoir containing nutrient-rich water.
The system has three main elements. The first is oxygen. The roots of the plants are fully submerged in water. This means that oxygen is extremely important if the plant is to stay alive.
To ensure this, it is important to keep the water aerated. An air pump can be attached to the reservoir to maintain airflow.
Second is water. Plants grown hydroponically are ‘planted’ in water rather than in soil. Consequently, water is an important growing medium in hydroponics and deep-water culture.
The final element crucial to hydroponics is nutrients. When growing plants in water, one has to ensure that it contains all the many necessary macro and micronutrients needed for growth.
Deepwater culture, alias the raft or floating method comes with many benefits. The system is the easiest to set up and maintain.
One only needs a reservoir to put the water in. Once a reservoir is purchased and installed, that’s it; one can successfully begin an entire hydroponic garden.
The system is extremely simple to set up. Unlike other hydroponic methods, one does not need to have mounds of information to put it together.
Putting water in a reservoir can be done by a toddler. Moreover, the system does not even require constant maintenance. Deep water culture takes up little space.
Unlike other hydroponic techniques, when it comes to deep water culture there are no pipes and multiple reservoirs and frames involved.
One simple large enough reservoir is all that is needed to grow a sizeable amount of vegetables. Setting up the deep-water culture setup is affordable.
Very little equipment is needed to set up a system. This makes the entire setup very affordable and easy to maintain. One can enjoy the benefits of hydroponically grown vegetables at a fraction of the cost.
The various types of deep-water culture
There are a variety of deep-water culture setups out there. Each of them serves the same purposes but vary in design.
Some of these deep-water culture setups are:
The traditional deep water culture method
This is the most basic form of deep-water culture. With this system, plants are held over water held in a reservoir.
To set up this system, one needs the following things; buckets, an air pump, an air stone, net pots, growing substrates for example wood fiber, pH control kit, air tubing, and hydroponic nutrients.
Putting everything together is quite simple. One needs to connect the air pump to the tubing and then to the air stone.
Then, mix water with the hydroponic nutrients. Afterward, pour the water with the nutrients into the bucket.
The air stone is then placed inside the water-filled bucket. Plants can then be grown hydroponically.
As a farmer, it is guaranteed that the plants will experience exponential growth. They have water, oxygen, and nutrients right in their vicinity.
Recirculating Deep Water Culture
DWC is amazing for people trying out their luck in hydroponics. Once success has been achieved with a simple deep-water culture setup, it is natural for people to want more.
However, it may be unfeasible to buy hundreds of buckets and individual air pumps to grow more crops. It makes more sense to connect the entire system to feed multiple plants from one main reservoir.
This is what is known as recirculating deep-water culture. This system is, however, a little more complicated but is nothing that cannot be mastered.
It consists of multiple plants connected to one main reservoir via a series of pipes. At this point it is important to mention that you need to use safe pipe that don’t leach toxins.
The reservoir contains the nutrient-rich water. This water is constantly kept aerated by an air pump connected to the reservoir.
The nutrient-rich water is pumped from the reservoir, through the pipes to the plants, conveying the much-needed nutrients and oxygen. After a while, the water is then conveyed back to the reservoir.
This phenomenon explains why this system is known to be recirculating. The water circulates to the plants and then back to the reservoir.
Though it has a very silly name, bubbleponics is an extremely clever method used in hydroponics to increase the growth rate in plants.
In the other methods of deep-water culture, seeds are placed in net pots and then suspended over water.
They are then left to germinate and extend their roots to the water in the reservoir beneath. This normally takes a considerable amount of time.
With bubbleponics, the germinated shoots are fed with drops of nutrient-rich water, conveyed to them by a system of pipes much like in drip irrigation.
The pipes are fitted above the plants and the reservoir. They are designed to drip water directly onto the roots of the germinating plant and feed it at least for the first weeks of its life. This design speeds the growth of young plant shoots reducing waiting periods.
What is the best deep-water culture setup (DWC)?
When it comes to picking out a good deep-water culture setup it is best to look out for certain traits.
The first characteristic is size. A good DWC system should be big enough to accommodate the plants being grown.
It needs to be light enough to move around without any hustle. The reservoir must have a water capacity large enough to accommodate adequate water to be used by the plants.
Finally, one must check that the system purchased is easily expandable to accommodate more plants if and when the need arises.
Best Deep Water Culture Kits Today
Following this rubric, the following are some of the best deep-water culture setups out there in the market:
The DWC hydroponic bucket kit 5 Gallon
This is a product created by the PowerGrow systems company. This system is very affordable, easy to set up, and maintain.
It comes complete with a bucket to be used as a reservoir, an air pump, tubing, air stone, starter plugs, a drain, and an instruction manual.
DWC Hydroponic bubbler bucket Kit
Also produced and sold by PowerGrow, this is another very useful and inexpensive deep-water culture setup. This hydroponic bubbler can be used to grow multiple crops.
It comes with 4 buckets, 4 air pumps, 4 air stones, water drains, air tubing, and also an instructions manual. This system allows for expansion.
One can easily grow a lot of plants using one simple system made up of 4 buckets without breaking the bank.
The Atwater Hydropod
This system uses the recirculating deep-water culture method. It is, therefore, environmentally friendly as it saves water. It comes with a bucket, air pump, air stone, air tubing, pH control kit, and drain.
All these parts are very easy to set up as the system also comes with an instruction manual that acts as a guide.
Active Aqua Root Bucket System Grow Kit
This is an inexpensive DWC system to invest in. Apart from its affordability, the system has many other advantages.
It comes with a multipurpose hose that can be used to supply oxygen to the plant and also convey water. The bucket used in the system is 8 inches high.
It thus allows plants to grow to optimal heights. It also comes with a water-tight seal. The seal has the sole purpose of ensuring that there are no leaks in the system.
Dreamjoy Hydroponic kit
This deep-water culture method used the recirculating technique. Though many DWC systems prefer the use of one or more buckets, the Dreamjoy kit uses a system of pipes instead.
The kit provides 36 different spots to grow plants in. The system needs to be connected to a reservoir tank and water pump, to facilitate the circulation of water within the pipes.
One can easily set up the kit alone without needing any technical assistance. The dreamjoy is light and portable and will give value for money.
Aunifun hydroponics kit
This is an easy to use hydroponics kit. It comes with a basin, a basin cover, and a planting basket. Of all these are made from dark-colored plastic.
This reduces the amount of light penetrating inside and hence eliminates the growth of algae and keeps the plants healthy.
The beauty of most of these systems is that they can be implemented in limited space.
It is time you also set up your own hydroponic vegetable garden at your backyard or balcony today.