These days, the fascinating world of alternative farming is gaining more and more momentum. And people belonging to all sorts of fields, from engineering to teaching, are now trying their hand at hydroponics.
While some people inculcate hydroponics as a business and leave their jobs to take up farming full time, that is not a necessity. Most hydroponic systems are highly scalable. They can be used to grow a few plants in your backyard as well as grow hundreds of crops for commercial sales with equal efficiency.
So, what exactly is hydroponics?
The science behind this concept is quite simple. Plants usually need regular access to soil, water, and sunlight to grow. Through hydroponics, we substitute soil with nutrient-rich water.
Additionally, many hydroponic plants are grown in a carefully curated environment, so you can control the conditions required for the plant to grow.
Seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? That is why people from non-agricultural backgrounds are so excited to try their hand at it. The theory seems easy to understand, but once they start considering the execution, most people tend to get overwhelmed. Not to worry, we will help you understand the details.
There are many types of hydroponic systems including Nutrient Film Technique, Deep Water Culture, Wick Hydroponics, Dutch Bucket Hydroponics, and Ebb and Flow System. The one that you choose is determined by the kind of crops that will be grown and where they will be grown.
What is Dutch Bucket Hydroponics?
A Dutch bucket setup, also known as a Bato bucket setup, is perhaps the simplest hydroponic system to build. It is a variation of the media bed technique. Here, the media bed system is broken into smaller buckets. All of these buckets are connected through the same irrigation and drainage lines, so this method is highly water-efficient.
How does it work?
dutch bucket hydroponics functions on three main elements - circulation, drainage, and timing.
The flow of the system begins with a reservoir in which you will add enough water and nutrients to feed every bucket in your system. The water is pushed to an irrigation line through a pump located in the reservoir.
This irrigation line has little drip emitters so that water can reach the growing media in each bucket. There is enough water for each plant, and then the excess water drains out through a single, shared drainage line. Thus, the extra water flows back to the reservoir where it started.
Because of a unified irrigation and drainage line, water can be recirculated. That makes this system much more efficient than traditional methods of farming.
It is also a comparatively passive technique. If you install a timer so that the pump runs at regular intervals, this system can run unattended for a few weeks while you’re on a vacation, before the water needs to be changed.
How can you build a Dutch bucket setup at home?
If you’re just a beginner who wants to grow hydroponic vegetables at home but doesn’t want to invest significant amounts of money to pursue hydroponics as a business, this guide is perfect for you. It is simple, low-budget and will lead to effective results.
For the sake of explanation, let’s assume that you wish to build a basic, eight-bucket system. Here’s how you should go about it.
1. Firstly, you’ll have to decide where you want to build your Dutch bucket setup. It can be on a table or a platform. If you do not have access to these, even a spot on the floor will do.
2. Cut a 2-inch wide PVC pipe to about 8 feet and lay it down in the area that you’ve set aside. This will be the drainage pipe for the system.
3. Position a total of eight buckets, four on each side of the drainage system. While spacing them a foot or so apart works for most systems, the actual distance will depend upon the plant that you’re growing. On the drainpipe, remember to mark the position of the buckets.
4. Using a drill, cut holes into the top of the drainpipe wherever the aforementioned marks are present.
5. Now, attach a PVC elbow to one end of your drainpipe. This will connect the pipe to the reservoir placed below.
6. Drill small holes into the side of each bucket, which will help the flow of excess water to the drainage pipe. Attach a rubber grommet to these holes, to cover the sharp edges.
7. Now, cut small pieces of a 1-inch wide pipe and sand them down so that the elbows will easily connect to these. Each piece should be 6-inch long.
8. Slide one piece into each bucket. And attach PVC elbows to these, in a way that they are pointing down.
9. It’s time to place your Dutch buckets in their positions and connect the elbows connecting the buckets to your main drainage pipe. The drainage system is complete and we’re almost halfway there!
10. Now, we will place the growing media in the buckets. It is wise to always place them in a paint strainer bag and not directly into the bucket. Otherwise, the growing media might drain into the reservoir and damage your pump.
11. Place a ½ inch wide poly tube across the tops of your buckets, to form the irrigation line.
12. Drill 8 holes into it and insert drip emitters into each one, to ensure a smooth flow of water.
13. At the place where the irrigation line starts, attach a pump by the means of a hose clamp. And place this pump directly into your reservoir. Don’t give up, you’re almost done!
14. Add water to your reservoir. And voila, your system is ready!
But before you go proclaiming to your friends and family that you’re now an expert at Dutch bucket hydroponics, make sure you conduct a test run and check the system for any leaks. With regular checks and the correct combination of growing media along with seedlings, this system is sure to reap plenty of fresh produce for you.
It works well with almost every plant, but the system is especially suitable for tall and vining fruits and veggies like tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, squashes, and beans. These usually require a large number of nutrients as well as substantial space, which other systems cannot provide.
So, what are you waiting for? Get started today and soon enough, you’ll be able to experience fresh, homegrown veggies.
At Brio Hydroponics, we aim to make fresh and nutritious food accessible to people across the country. And while we are one of the biggest organizations in the field of commercial hydroponic farming in India, we also strive to create solutions for individuals, so that they can easily grow hydroponic plants in their homes and offices.