This is my solution to solving many of the problems with NFT(Nutrient Film Technique), DWC(Deep Water Culture), and Flood/Drain Gravel media bed systems used in common Aquaponic and Hydroponic grow methods. This has the potential to be a bit of a game changer.
The main problem with growing plants in NFT systems is high temps. during Summer months. Adding a large mass of water to the pipe should eliminate that issue entirely.
The main problem Growing in gravel media is separating the root ball from the gravel during harvest/and planting as well. A 2" pot will literally pop into and out of these systems.
The main problem when growing in DWC(deep water culture) is having to Super Filter out the water and add air stones. Any small particulates that cling to the roots of the plants will cause root rot/suffocation of the plant. So... just like in flood/drain beds. This is no longer an issue.
This simple and low maintenance design should solve ALL of these problems and More! I plan on building and starting trial tests soon.
1. These can be mounted high so they are easy on your back.
2 .They can be spaced out as far and wide as desired and still share the same Bell Syphon or other Syphon type. Enabling the user to make use of unused space up over head in the greenhouse.
3. Having air flow around the lower leaves will create a much fuller plant(lettuce) or give space for strawberries to fall through so they stay fresh longer once ripe (Unlike with gravel). More air flow helps with nutrients and disease as well.
4. Temperature stable.
5. Super filtration(or any filtration) not required.
6. No more carbon sequestration into the system through roots of plants. If you have a gravel media bed for nitrification/and mineralization... then you will have to clean it out far less often. Just put in worms(for aquaponics) and keep the gravel covered. Gravel clean-outs will be required far less often.
7. These would require less energy/maintenance/failure points due to not requiring massive amounts of air to get pumped into the system every few feet. The system will pull in vast amounts of air each cycle.
8. Easy planting/harvest. Just pop the plants in/out. No bending over to fight heavy rafts or pull from gravel.
9. Your lettuce(etc.) plants can be a month old the day you pop them in. More yields/harvest per year.
10. The water channels get flushed at both the end and beginning of each cycle! Less build up.
11.Single maintenance point located at syphon... provided the ball valves are used on the inlet side and water under pressure is used.
12. Adaptability: The speed at which the water inters the system is limited if using a Bell Syphon. There is only a small range. However, you can just change the amount of water it takes to fill the system on each cycle by simply adding or subtracting pipes. Helping you figure out what works best for you in your particular climate.
13. Mobility: These have the potential to be mobile. Customers in your market may like being able to pick-your-own lettuce/basil/etc. Lettuce looses 80% of its vitamins within 12hrs of being picked.
14. Multi level capabilities. These can be stacked. One syphon per level of course. More plants per square ft per year. The better air flow would be Awesome for this.
1. More expense to set up in initial costs since you have to purchase all items.
2. Harder/more complex to set up. (though time saved on back side)
3. Many more pieces.
Prototype has been built and is working. I integrated it into my current aquaponics system. You can follow the thread in the following link... or the YouTube video series in the link after that to see it in action!