Drip Systems are used widely in both indoor and outdoor applications. This is something almost any family member, gardener or not, would understand. Drip systems can be designed many different ways, depending on the builder. Usually you have a reservoir that holds your nutrient solution. From the reservoir the solution is run through a main water line from which there are smaller lines leading directly to the base of the plant sites. You can find already manufactured drip systems, but you can also easily build one as well.

Advantages of Drip Systems

  1. Can use any type of media.
  2. Cost to build is low.
  3. You can have constant feed of solution or a timed system.
  4. You can choose to reuse the water or run to waste.
  5. You are constantly flushing the solution from the top down, so you don’t have a lot of salt build up.
  6. Since you can use large containers, you can grow long term with a drip system.

Disadvantages of Drip Systems

  1. Can clog easily, so may not be good with organics.
  2. More time consuming at initial set-up.
  3. Since you usually use more media than compared to other hydroponics methods, the absorption rate is slower.

Drip systems are probably the most widely used type of hydroponic system in the world. Operation is simple, a timer controls a submersed pump. The timer turns the pump on and nutrient solution is dripped onto the base of each plant by a small drip line. In a Recovery Drip System the excess nutrient solution that runs off is collected back in the reservoir for re-use. The Non-Recovery System does not collect the run off.

A recovery system uses nutrient solution a bit more efficiently, as excess solution is reused, this also allows for the use of a more inexpensive timer because a recovery system doesn’t require precise control of the watering cycles. The non-recovery system needs to have a more precise timer so that watering cycles can be adjusted to insure that the plants get enough nutrient solution and the runoff is kept to a minimum.

The non-recovery system requires less maintenance due to the fact that the excess nutrient solution isn’t recycled back into the reservoir, so the nutrient strength and pH of the reservoir will not vary. This means that you can fill the reservoir with pH adjusted nutrient solution and then forget it until you need to mix more. A recovery system can have large shifts in the pH and nutrient strength levels that require periodic checking and adjusting.

A hydroponic drip system is rather simple. A drip system works by providing a slow feed of nutrient solution to the hydroponics medium. We recommend using a slow draining medium, such as Rockwool, coconut coir, or peat moss. You can also use a faster draining medium, although you will have to use a faster dripping emitter.

The downside to a system like this is that the drippers / emitter are famous for clogging. We prefer not to use drip systems, but it can be an effective method for growing if you can avoid the clogs that plague this type of system. The reason the system gets clogged is because particles from nutrients that build up in the emitter. Systems that use organic nutrients are more likely to have this kind of issue.