Is Deep Water Culture the most effective hydroponic system?

Deep Water culture or Direct Water Culture is a hydroponic growing method that sustains plants roots in a well-oxygenated solution full of nutrients and water 24/7.
When we talk about “deep," we are trying to say that roots must be submerged deep in the water. So, the more water there is in the reservoir, the more stability in the nutrient solution and the less maintenance, and monitoring.
Simple, powerful, and effective
The DWC is a simple and very effective hydroponic system, and it works as follow:

  • A reservoir is filled with water (pH 5.5 -6.5) High pH for vegetative and Low pH for flowering.
  • An air pump is connected to an Air-stone placed within the reservoir.
  • Nutrients like Complete Hydroponic are added into the water.
  • Plants are placed in net pots above the nutrient solution in the reservoir.
  • Plants expand their roots to find the nutrients released into the water and the absorption process begins.
  • Once your roots hit the nutrient solution, you will witness an explosion of growth.
This is an example of the entire system:
The Kratky Method
The Kratky method is basically the Deep Water Culture, but the difference is that it doesn’t have a pump and the pots must be 50% exposed to the air and the other 50% below the lid; this is done so the roots can obtain the oxygen from the part that is exposed to the air.
This is how it works:
Recirculating DWC
If you want to go for a bigger Grow and want to keep the same system because now you have become a master in hydroponics, the recirculating DWC is the way to go.
You can have as many containers as you want, and they must be connected the big central reservoir.
The most important advantage is that you can grow more plants, and you only have to add water, nutrients, oxygen, and calibrate the central reservoir. Water and nutrients that feed the plants will be circulated from one bucket to another.

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Plants grow better in DWC
In the past, it was said that the most suitable plants to grow in DWC are those that don’t flower such as, lettuces and lots of different herbs. HOWEVER, it has been demonstrated that plants like Cannabis, Tomato, Strawberry, and Pepper among others, are able to thrive incredibly well in DWC compared to their grown-in-soil counterparts. Plants grown in Hydroponic Systems develop a better aroma, taste, and color; and it potency and nutritional value is overwhelmingly superior. 

Pros & Cons
  • You can experience an accelerated growth thanks to a better uptake of nutrients and oxygen obtained from the nutrient solution. For example, you can grow lettuce and harvest in 30 days instead of 60 in soil. The same apply to the plants mentioned above.
  • More air into the roots improves plants’ nutrient  absorption and increase cell growth rate
  • There’s no need for much fertilizer
  • It requires little maintenance.
  • Very easy to assembly
There are a few disadvantages of the DWC system. These disadvantages are:
  • If the air pump gets broken
  • If you are using a non-recirculating deep water culture system, it is difficult to maintain the temperature (Sometimes the water tends to get too hot from the submersible pump running continuously)
  • The nutrient concentration, water level, and PH may fluctuate wildly; it needs to be checked constantly
  • In small systems, it is very easy to over or under calibrate

Nutrients that work in DWC
Any types of mineral nutrients work well in the DWC. Now, if you are a beginner or an experienced grower, Complete Hydroponics is the best choice because it is easy to use,  its nutrient concentration are balanced and stable, few products are needed to achieve an outstating result, cost effective, better absorption ratios, and are made with natural and organic components for a better and healthier consumption.
For Veg:
For Grow:
For flower:

The suggested pH level of all types of plants are from 5.5 to 6.5, depending on the growth phase, and species of plants grown.
Usually, vegetative crops or crops that are in a vegetative phase need pH in the upper end, while fruits or plants that are in a flowering period require the bottom end of the pH level suggested above.
In order to keep your pH balanced, this is what we recommend:

Balance pH

Balance pH meters and Calibrators:

Background Conductivity
In few and simple words, Background conductivity measure the amounts of salts, acids, and bases accumulated in a solution when the water is absorbed or evaporated, and if this measure is too high, your plants are going to be exposed to a very serious risk of contamination, dryness, and possibly death.
For example: The common elements found in the water are Ca & Mg. So, If your water has a high concentration of Calcium (Ca) and Magnesium (Mg) and you decide to add a hydroponic base nutrient or any other additive rich in those elements, guess what! You are going to overload your plants and burn the hell out of them.

You need to keep the air temperature at 75 - 80oF, and root zone at 60 - 68oF. Too warm temperatures will decrease the oxygen levels within the system.

Nutrient replacement time frame
I would recommend to replace nutrients at least once per week. In other types of DWC like the Kratky Method, you can keep it up to 3 weeks, but it's better than you should check the solution regularly. When the pH is too low/too high, or the nutrient solutions completely change its color, and it's time to replace it.

Root depth
Barely submerge the roots into the nutrient solution. Keep the stem expose to the air. There is no need to wholly sink the roots. Keep about 1.5" of the roots above the water. These dry parts will help your plant to take up more oxygen from the surrounding environment.

The amount of light you get for your growing set up depends on your growing area size, kinds of plants, their growth phase, and types of lights.
I would recommend:
For Veg, flowering, and all purpose, the following lamps and its respective ballast:

Be advised that in this kind of systems, you have to take care of all factors that are responsible for a good and successful harvest, and these are temperature, pH, oxygenation, nutrients balance, and humidity. So, keep in mind that you must be able to know how to deal with them.

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