A Better Way to Hand-Water (And Re-Circulate!)
Many growers opt to hand-water their plants, believing that this method will simplify things and save time. Up until recently, the exact opposite was true, but with the arrival of the new Baseline Trays from Medusa Hydroponics, things are getting much, much easier! For the many hand-waterers out there: once you’ve tried this way of doing things, there’s no going back! And, chances are, you’ll probably want to go the whole hog and switch to using a dripper system, too!
When feeding your plants in soil and coco, it’s vitally important that you allow for at least 10% run-off . This ensures that the solution penetrates the substrate properly, distributing nutrients evenly. If your only means of collecting run-off is a saucer, it won’t take long before the saucer fills up completely… Leaving plants sat in liquid is a very bad idea – roots love oxygen and they hate being water logged! In these conditions, you can expect to see the rapid development of highly destructive root diseases like pythium, and with that, the potential for completely failed crops. Having excess nutrient solution lying around in the grow area can also increase humidity levels as it evaporates, which can negatively affect environmental conditions and increase the chances of issues with mildew and bud rot. One way or another, you NEED to get rid of your run-off!
Enter the Baseline Tray! Baseline Trays were designed after many months of testing and development. They sit underneath your containers like typical trays and saucers, but they raise containers well above any run-off and provide you with the ability to remove excess nutrients, either by piping it to a drain (known as ‘run to waste’) or by pumping it back through the system (re-circulating). This is all possible thanks to the inclusion of pre-drilled holes that you can use to connect 13mm or 25mm (internal diameter) pipework.
You can see how easy it is to connect fittings to the pre-drilled drainage holes
Baseline Trays feature three pre-cut holes for your pipework
Notice how the Baseline Tray is moulded with a dip in the centre, keeping containers well clear of any run-off
We’ve set up a demo at our Stoke-on-Trent retail outlet so that you can see how to use Baseline trays in both of these situations. To the right of the IWS Brain Pot we’ve set up a run-to-waste system and to the left of it is a recirculating dripper.
Run to Waste Layout with IWS Brain
How the Baseline Run-to-Waste System Works
The simplest way to ‘run-to-waste’ is to connect your Baseline Trays to pipework that leads down to a drain. This is a great solution if your Baseline Trays are located higher than the drainage point because you can let gravity do the work. If they’re on the same level, however, you’re going to need another solution. This is where the IWS ‘Run-to-Waste’ Brain Pot comes in. The Brain Pot features an internal MJ-500 pump that will move excess nutrients to wherever you need them to go. You’ll notice on the image below that the Brain Pot has six inlet points lined up in a row and one outlet point that sits on it’s own. The inlets are used to connect pipework to your Baseline Trays and the outlet point is connected to the Brain Pot’s internal pump. It’s from this outlet point that you can then pump nutrients away.Basic Run-to-Waste System
Run-to-Waste System with IWS Brain
IWS Brain Pot
The Inner Workings of the Brain Pot
Inside the Brain Pot is a float switch that sits right near the bottom. When the run-off from your Baseline Trays enters the Brain Pot through the inlet points, the float switch lifts up, which then activates the pump. The contents are pumped though the outlet point to wherever they need to go, and once the Brain Pot empties, the float switch drops back down and the pump automatically switches off. Clever, eh?
Running a Re-Circulating Dripper
The Brain Pot we’re demonstrating may be known as a ‘Run-to-Waste’ Brain Pot, but you can also use it as part of a re-circulating dripper system. In this instance, instead of pumping excess nutrients off to a drain, you simply pump them back to your nutrient reservoir tank. You can then pump the nutrients back out from your tank and out through your dripper system so that the nutrients move around in a loop. The Brain Pot will ensure that run-off is always taken care of, but you’ll need to make sure that the pump on your dripper system is connected to a timer.
Re-Circulating Dripper System
In-Store Dripper Set-Up
Take a look at the length of LDPE pipe that sits at the front. This pipe is feeding the dripper system. In the image above, the left hand side of the pipe is sealed off with an end stop, and the right hand side of the pipe (which is out of shot) is connected to the pump inside our 25 litre Flexi Tank Reservoir. Notice how this length of LDPE pipe sits neatly inside grooves that were pre-moulded into the Baseline Tray. These grooves keep things nice and tidy, preventing you from tripping over loose pipework, which could loosen up connections and cause leakages. The Guys at Medusa Hydroponics have thought of everything!