Types of Hydroponic Systems and How Do They Work

The science of soilless gardening is known as hydroponics. The Latin term “hydroponics,” which means “working water,” is the root of the term. Water provides nutrients, moisture, and oxygen to plants in the absence of …


The science of soilless gardening is known as hydroponics. The Latin term “hydroponics,” which means “working water,” is the root of the term. Water provides nutrients, moisture, and oxygen to plants in the absence of soil. Plants thrive in hydroponics, from cucumbers to jalapenos to orchids, thanks to a precise feeding schedule. Hydroponic gardens produce gorgeous fruits and flowers in half the time with less space and 90% less water than traditional agriculture.

Despite the fact that hydroponics appears to be cutting-edge, its roots may be traced all the way back to Babylon’s legendary Hanging Gardens, one of the ancient world’s seven wonders. Channels were carved into the walls of the beautiful garden to divert the Euphrates River. Marco Polo wrote about seeing floating gardens in China in the 13th century. Hydroponics, on the other hand, isn’t just an antique invention. As recently as the 1990s, NASA experimented with growing aeroponic bean seedlings in zero gravity onboard a space station. Hydroponics is a time-tested and versatile way to conserve water while also increasing crop yields.

What is hydroponics? 

Hydroponic Systems

Grow plants without soil with hydroponics. The plants are grown in inert growing material and supplied with nutrient-rich solutions, oxygenation, and water via hydroponics systems. Using this method encourages rapid development, higher yields, and higher quality crops. In soil, the roots of a plant are always searching for the essential nutrition to sustain the growth of the plant. Plants don’t have to use any energy if their root systems are directly exposed to water and nutrients. Roots can use the energy they would have spent collecting food and water to grow the plant instead. As a result, the growth of leaves and the blooming of fruits and flowers is greatly accelerated.

Photosynthesis is the mechanism by which plants obtain their energy. Chlorophyll is a pigment found in plants that helps them to better absorb light (a green pigment present in their leaves). In order to break down the water molecules they’ve absorbed through their root system, they require the light’s energy. Carbohydrates, which plants rely on for energy, are created when hydrogen and carbon dioxide molecules come into contact. An important ingredient in the preservation of our planet’s habitability, oxygen is released into the atmosphere. In order for plants to photosynthesise, they don’t need soil. They rely on the soil’s water and minerals for their survival. It is possible to apply nutrients directly to a plant’s root system by flooding, misting, or immersing the plant in water. Direct exposure to nutrient-rich water has been demonstrated to be more successful and versatile than typical irrigation methods in hydroponics..

How does hydroponics work? 

By providing precise control over environmental factors like temperature and pH balance, hydroponic systems ensure that plants are exposed to the maximum amount of nutrients and water. Hydroponics is based on a simple principle: supply plants with exactly what they need at the right time. Plants cultivated in hydroponic systems receive fertilizer solutions suited to their specific demands. Control over the amount of light your plants receive is made possible by these devices. It’s possible to keep an eye on and tweak the pH level. Plant growth speeds up in a highly specialized and controlled environment.

Many dangers can be minimized if the plant’s environment is kept under tight control. A wide range of factors affect the health and growth of plants in gardens and fields. Plants can be infected by fungus in the soil. Your garden’s ripening vegetables can be stolen by wildlife such as rabbits. Pests such as locusts can wreak havoc on crops in a matter of hours. Gardeners can grow plants in a controlled environment thanks to hydroponic equipment. Seedlings can mature considerably more quickly without the soil’s mechanical barrier. Hydroponics produces healthier and higher-quality produce because pesticides aren’t used. When there are no obstructions in the way, plants can develop quickly and enthusiastically.

6 Types of Hydroponic Systems

1. Wick System

Wick System hydroponics

The wick hydroponic system is one of the simplest ways to produce plants, and it can be used by almost anyone. The wick system is unique because it does not require aerators, pumps, or power to operate. However, it is the only hydroponic system that does not need any electricity. Most wick systems use perlite or vermiculite as an absorbent medium directly inside which to place the plants. Wicks of nylon are placed around the plants and then lowered into the fertilizer solution.

A wick hydroponic system, because of its simple design, does not provide the plants with a substantial amount of nutrients, so you should avoid using it. As a result, it is suitable for little plants and herbs in the garden. In this technique, you can grow any plant that doesn’t require a lot of water. If you’re looking to cultivate peppers and tomatoes, you’ll want to avoid using this approach. As strong feeders, these plants will require more nutrients than the wick system can offer. Toxic mineral salts could build up as a result of uneven water and nutrient absorption in this system. When using this system, wash off any excess nutrients with fresh water every 1-2 weeks to keep the system running smoothly.

2. Water Culture

Water Culture hydroponics

In a water culture hydroponic system, the roots of the plant are placed directly into the nutrition solution. Unlike the wick system, the water culture system does not have this barrier between plants and water. Using a water diffuser or air stone, oxygen is released into the water. Net pots should be used to secure the plants in their right positions while using this arrangement.

Because the plant roots are placed in the nutrient system, the nutrients are easily absorbed by the plants in the water culture system. When plants are cultivated in water, they have direct access to nutrients and oxygen, resulting in a rapid rate of growth. There are many advantages to using water culture, including the fact that it is simple to set up and can be used with any type of plant. With this strategy, even giant plants with large foot systems can develop swiftly and easily There is only one problem with this hydroponic system, and it is caused by unclean conditions: root disease.

3. Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain)

Ebb and Flow hydroponics

Another popular hydroponic system is the ebb and flow system, which is used primarily by home gardeners. The plants are placed in a large grow bed that is filled with a growing medium, such as rockwool or perlite. Plants are carefully placed in the grow bed, and then watered until it is just below the surface of the growing media, which prevents the nutritional solution from overflowing.

The water pump that floods the grow bed has a timer that turns it off after a predetermined amount of time. The water in the grow bed will be emptied and returned to the pump in this situation. Nearly any variety of plant, including some root vegetables like carrots and radishes, can be successfully grown using the ebb and flow approach. However, if you’re going to use this approach, you should avoid using very huge plants. It’s possible that the amount of grow medium and nutrient solution in the grow bed may not be enough to accommodate larger plants because of their size. Pump controller malfunctions can cause the system to stop working until the pump is repaired or replaced.

4. Drip Systems

Drip Systems hydroponics

Hydroponics drip systems are simple to use and adaptable, making them ideal for growers who plan to make frequent adjustments to their plants’ watering schedules. A drip system uses a fertilizer solution that is pumped through a tube that delivers the solution directly to the roots of the plant. A drip emitter at the end of each tube controls the amount of solution that is injected into the plant. It’s possible to tailor the water flow to the specific needs of each plant.

Depending on your needs, these systems can be as tiny or as huge as you wish. A circulating or non-circulating system can also be used. Drippage from a circulating system is nearly constant. Nutrients that have not been used will be returned to the tank holding the solution. This hydroponic system may be used to cultivate a wide variety of plants because it can be easily adjusted in size and flow rate. Keeping the variable levels of nutrients and pH constant in a recirculated solution is the biggest challenge you’ll face if you adopt this method.

5. N.F.T. (Nutrient Film Technology)

N.F.T hydroponics

In spite of its straightforward architecture, the N.FT system is frequently employed because to its versatility in a wide range of settings. In these systems, a big reservoir holds the fertilizer solution. As a result, excess nutrients are returned to the reservoir through a series of sloped channels in the solution. To ensure that each plant gets the proper amount of nutrients from the nutrient solution, the solution runs down the slope and over the plant’s roots.

This sort of hydroponic system calls for the usage of net pots. This approach doesn’t use a grow medium in the majority of situations. It is advised that you use this technique with plants with smaller roots because the channels used are so small. It’s possible to grow a lot of plants at the same time using this system, despite the fact that it doesn’t have a lot of room for larger plants. Commercial farmers and home gardeners alike employ this approach since it is scalable.

6. Aeroponic Systems

Aeroponic Systems

However, aeroponic systems are simple to understand, but complicated to create.” Using this method, your plants will be hung in the air. Below the plants, two mist nozzles spray water into the air. The nutrition solution will be sprayed directly onto the roots of each plant using these nozzles. The water pump is directly connected to the mist nozzles. When the pump’s pressure rises, the solution is sprayed and any excess falls into the reservoir below.

Almost any form of plant can be grown in an aeroponic system as long as the reservoir is of the correct size. The reservoir, on the other hand, must be somewhat deep if you intend to cultivate large plants. A lack of root coverage could prevent the mist from reaching the roots. With an aeroponic system, all of the oxygen that a plant needs is available to it. Additionally, this system consumes less water than any other hydroponic system, which is fantastic for saving money and maximizing yields. A few problems, however, plague this method. There are a number of reasons why this is the case. Clogged nozzles can also be a pain to clean.

Reverse osmosis and hydroponics

A key component of hydroponics is water’s ability to revitalize the plants. Your hydroponic garden flourishes as a result of the nutrients it receives from the water. The water that sustains your plants should also be of the utmost importance to you if you care about their health. Sadly, the vast majority of water on the planet is tainted. Chlorine is used to sanitize municipal water reservoirs. In the United States, 85 percent of the water supply is considered hard water, according to the US Geological Survey (meaning it contains elevated levels of calcium and magnesium). Chemicals and VOCs can be leached into the groundwater supply via industrial spills, agricultural runoff, and garbage in landfills.

Through a semipermeable membrane, the water passes through a RO process, which removes 98 percent of all contaminants. Reverse osmosis removes heavy metals, salts, microorganisms, and total dissolved solids (TDS) from water (TDS). As a result, the water is extraordinarily pure. Plants can ingest only the nutrients they need by using RO water for hydroponics. RO water is used by the great majority of commercial hydroponic systems. Similar to hydroponics, reverse osmosis has shown that there is a better technique to grow plants than using water.


It’s crucial to know the features of each hydroponic system and to know what your hydroponic demands are before deciding which one is best for you. The wick or water culture systems, for example, are excellent choices if you’re a home grower looking for a simple system that requires minimal setup. The drip or N.F.T. system may be the best option if you wish to produce a big number of different types of plants. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each hydroponic system before making a decision.

Contact Sensorex today if you need assistance with your hydroponic system or if you’d like to take a look at our wide variety of sensors. Sensorex carries every sort of sensor you could possibly need for water treatment and measurement, including pH sensors, TDS sensors, dissolved oxygen sensors, and ORP sensors. Sensorex also carries a wide range of other sensors.

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