2019 was focused on proof of concept. The goals were:
- Research hydroponics methods that could work with treated wastewater.
- Construct some simple hydroponics systems to try out different techniques.
- Identify plant species that would grow well.
Three techniques were chosen for their simplicity and ability to be constructed using recycled parts from around the Test Center: Nutrient Film Technique, Ebb and Flow, and Dutch Buckets.
Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) System
The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) is probably the system people visualize when thinking about hydroponics.
The basic principle behind the NFT technique is to continually recirculate nutrient solution through a series of tubes (often 4-inch PVC pipe) into which the roots of the plants are suspended.
Ebb and Flow System
This system is a modified ebb-and-flow type with tomato plants being grown in containers filled with inert media that are few doses of treated wastewater 4 times per day.
Hybrid Dutch Bucket/Deep Water Culture System
This system combines two hydroponics concepts: deep water culture and “dutch buckets”. Deep water culture is really just that: using a deep vessel to hold an aerated nutrient solution into which the plant roots are suspended from above. Dutch Buckets typically use some sort of non-reactive media to support the plant which nutrient solution is constantly trickled through from the top.
Our system combines the deep aerated vessel and maintains a constant flow of treated wastewater.