Hydroponic system: what & how it works


Consider how much water is consumed in traditional agriculture, particularly with spray irrigation.

Big pivots are used to spray large amounts of water onto wide swathes of land, all of which are exposed to sunshine and evaporation.

Furthermore, 99% of irrigation water travels through the root zone and is lost to the water table, which is a major waste.

Drip irrigation feeds plants through polyethylene tubing that is submerged beneath the soil surface.

Furthermore, a thin layer of plastic mulch is employed to keep moisture in the soil by shielding it from sunlight, so this method eliminates evaporation, but there is still a significant loss of water moving past the roots and back into the water table.

Wait a minute! What if we can grow plants without soil?

What if we can provide plants with full nutrients, but, there is no soil?

Yes! I am talking about the hydroponic system.

It’s the art of gardening without soil, in the absence of soil water goes to work providing nutrients, hydration and oxygen to plant life.

Because of the differences in the two methods of growing plants, hydroponics consumes one-third less water than traditional agriculture, which is a significant advantage in our water-stressed area.

What is a hydroponic system?

Plants are grown hydroponically, which means without soil.

Hydroponic plants are nourished with nutrient-rich solutions, oxygen, and water while being planted in inert growing media.

This technique encourages quick development, greater yields and improved quality.

When a plant is growing in soil, its roots are constantly looking for the food it needs to survive.

The plant doesn’t need to expend any energy to maintain itself if its root system has direct access to nutrients.

It is possible to focus on the energy that the roots would have used to find nutrients for the development of the plant.

As a result, fruit and flower blooming as well as leaf growth flourish.

How does a hydroponic system work?

The cultivation of plants in nutrient solutions, with or without sand, gravel, or other inert material to give mechanical support, is known as hydroponics.

The fundamental distinction between hydroponics and traditional soil-based agriculture is that nourishment in hydroponics comes from water-soluble fertilizers rather than soil; consequently, there is no mud in hydroponics.

The basic tenet of hydroponics is to provide plants with their requirements at the precise moment they require them.

You have control over how much and how long plants are exposed to light.

It is possible to monitor and modify pH levels.

Plant development is accelerated in an environment that is highly tailored and controlled.

The uncertainty of growing plants outside and on the ground is eliminated by hydroponic systems.

Seedlings mature significantly more quickly when the mechanical resistance of the soil is removed.

Hydroponics produces significantly healthier and higher-quality fruits and vegetables by doing away with pesticides.

Plants are free to develop quickly and vigorously in the absence of barriers.

Components of a hydroponic system

Credit to: https://www.vecteezy.com/

Growing media

Inert media that sustain the plant’s weight and secure its root system are frequently used to produce hydroponic plants.

Although growing media can replace the soil, it does not give the plant its independent nutrients.

Instead, the plant receives moisture and nutrients from the porous media, which it absorbs from the nutrient solution.

Numerous growing media are also pH-neutral, so they won’t interfere with your nutritional solution’s pH balance.

Air stones and air pumps

If the water is not appropriately aerated, submerged plants can quickly drown.

Your nutrient solution reservoir is filled with small bubbles of dissolved oxygen thanks to air stones.

They must be connected to an external air pump using tubing made of opaque food-grade plastic (the opacity will prevent algae growth from setting in).

Net pots 

Hydroponic plants are kept in net pots, which are mesh planters.

Comparing net pots to conventional clay or plastic pots, the drainage is also superior with net pots.

What are the different types of hydroponic systems?

Deep water culture systems

One of the simplest and most often used hydroponic systems available is the DWC system.

A deep reservoir of the oxygen-rich nutritional solution is covered by a DWC system that suspends net pots housing plants.

The plant has constant access to food, water, and oxygen thanks to the roots being immersed in the solution.

The longevity of the plant depends on the water’s ability to oxygenate properly because the root system is always floating in it.

To provide oxygen to the entire system, add an air stone connected to an air pump at the bottom of the reservoir.

The air stone’s bubbles will also aid in circulating the nutritional solution.

Wick systems

In a wick system, plants are nestled in growing material on a tray that is set on top of a reservoir.

In this reservoir, a water solution with dissolved nutrients is stored.

As water and nutrients move up the wick, they are absorbed by the growth medium around the roots of the plants.

Wick systems are passive hydroponics, meaning they don’t use mechanical parts like pumps to function.

It is therefore the ideal choice when electricity is either unavailable or unstable.

Capillary action is the mechanism through which wicks systems operate.

When the wick comes into contact with the porous growing media, it functions like a sponge, absorbing the water it is submerged in and delivering the nutritional solution.

Wick system hydroponics is only useful when used with growing media that transmits nutrients and water effectively.

The materials that work well with hydroponic wick systems are vermiculite and coco coir.

Nutrient film technique systems

Nutrient film technique (NFT) systems suspend plants above nutrient solution streams that continuously flow over the ends of their root systems.

The tilting canals holding the plants allow water to run down the length of the grow tray before emptying into the reservoir below.

An air stone is then used to aerate the reservoir’s water.

A submersible pump is then used to return the nutrient-rich water to the top of the channel from the reservoir.

The nutrient film technology’s hydroponic system circulates water.

The plant roots are not submerged in water with an NFT system. Instead, the water just touches the tips of their roots (or “film”).

Although systems utilizing the nutrient film technique recycle water continuously, it is recommended to drain the reservoir and replenish the nutrient solution about once per week.

Ebb and flow systems

A grow bed is flooded with nutrient solution from a reservoir below in ebb and flow hydroponic systems.

A timer is a feature of the submersible pump in the reservoir.

The pump starts to fill the grow bed with water and nutrients when the timer goes off.

When the timer expires, gravity gradually empties the grow bed’s water supply and flushes it back into the reservoir.

The device has an overflow tube to make sure flooding doesn’t go above a specific point and harm the plant stalks and fruits.

Drip systems 

In a hydroponic drip system, the aerated, nutrient-rich reservoir dispenses fluid to individual plants via a web of tubes.

The roots of the plants are surrounded by a growing medium that is slowly dripped with this solution, keeping the plants moist and well-fed.

Credit to: https://www.vecteezy.com/

Drip irrigation is the most popular and commonly utilized hydroponics technology, especially among commercial producers.

Drip irrigation can be used on a single plant or in large irrigation systems.

There are two types of drip system hydroponics: recovery and non-recovery.

Recovery systems drain extra water out of the grow bed and into a reservoir so that it can be recirculated during the subsequent drip cycle.

These systems are more popular with smaller, at-home growers.

In non-recovery systems, the surplus water drains from the growth media and is squandered.


In aeroponics systems, plants are suspended in the air and their bare roots are exposed to a nutrient-rich mist.

Aeroponics systems are enclosed structures, such as cubes or towers, that can house several plants simultaneously.

A reservoir holds the water and nutrients, which are then pumped through a nozzle where the mixture is atomized and dispersed as a fine mist.

Substratum media are not necessary for aeroponics to exist.

The roots’ continuous contact with air enables them to take up oxygen and grow more quickly.

Systems that use aeroponics use the least amount of water of any hydroponic method.

In actuality, growing a crop aeroponically uses 95% less water than growing it in an irrigated area in aeroponics systems, plants are suspended in the air and their bare roots are exposed to a nutrient-rich mist.

Aeroponics systems are enclosed structures, such as cubes or towers, that can house several plants simultaneously.

Advantages of Hydroponic system for Gardeners

1- Prolonged growing season.

2- Better growth and output.

3- A greater plant density.

4-The ability to grow plants anyplace.

5- Reduced water use.

6- Fewer pest issues; and easier harvesting of mature plants.

Disadvantages of the hydrochloric system for gardeners

1-Costly to set up.

2-Susceptible to power shortages.

3-Needs continuous monitoring and maintenance.

Water saving and hydroponic system

Given that hydroponic plants grow solely in water, one would assume that soilless farming consumes more water.

Contrary to popular belief, certain hydroponic systems can save up to ten times the amount of water used in conventional field agricultural production.

The simple answer is that the water is being used to feed the plants rather than being dumped into the ground where it would be wasted.

Closed-loop hydroponic systems cycle their water supply, which is held in a reservoir, resulting in no run-off.

however, this is the core of how hydroponics may conserve water.

Water is re-circulated and reused for thirteen days; only on the fourteenth day is it thrown, and even then, it is not a total waste because it can be used in other non-hydroponic uses.

The water utilized in hydroponics is limited to the water consumed by the plant as it takes nutritious water up into its system via osmosis and the water evaporates through the plant leaves.

Nutrient water is not exposed to sunlight while being given to the plants, resulting in evaporation.


[1] https://www.freshwatersystems.com/blogs/blog/what-are-hydroponic-systems

[2] https://www.trees.com/gardening-and-landscaping/advantages-disadvantages-of-hydroponics

[3] https://daisyfreshhydroponics.com/hydroponics/how-does-hydroponics-save-water/

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