DWC or Deep Water Culture is any hydroponic growing system where the roots of the plant sit directly in an oxygenated nutrient solution. The simplest DWC system is:
- A light proof 5 gallon bucket
- A plant rooted in rockwool and covered by a substrate like hydroton to protect light from reaching the root zone.
- A plastic net pot for holding the plant and cube above the nutrient solution below.
- An air pump pushing dissolved oxygen into the nutrient solution inside of the bucket.
Pros of a DWC system:
- Deep water culture systems can grow plants extremely fast with powerful root systems. In a system like this, the root zone is always in contact with the two things it needs the most – oxygen and nutrients.
- The startup costs of setting up a small DWC system are minimal compared to that of a RDWC system.
- Sharing is caring, unless the plants have a root problem. In a simple DWC setup, the nutrient solution is isolated to a single plant which helps in containing potential outbreaks of root disease.
Cons of a DWC system:
- There is no effective way to keep the nutrient solution cool if your grow room temperatures rise. Higher root zone temperatures (72F+ 22C+) are a big problem and a potential breeding ground for root diseases.
- DWC systems require more manual labor for larger setups. Each DWC bucket needs to be drained, filled and regularly checked throughout the growing cycle.
Important Tips for Deep Water Culture:
- Keep an eye on the pH and EC of the nutrient solution inside of each container. If the EC is high or the water levels are low, top the reservoir off with fresh water. If the pH of the nutrient solution is outside of 5.8-6.2, correct the pH of the top-off water to push the nutrient solution in the direction you need to go.
- You really can’t overdo it with air stones. Pathogens and root diseases don’t do well in oxygen rich environments. The more dissolved air you can push into the nutrient solution, the better.
- If your root enclosures leak light, wrap them with light-proof panda film – white side out. This will help reflect light back on to the plants, and keep your root zone dark and cool.
- Minimize or eliminate organic nutrients. Kelp, humic/fulvic acid, carbohydrates and amino acids will feed and magnify outbreaks of harmful bacteria in your reservoir.
- If you experience any slime or rotten smell at the root zone, do not share or cross contaminate anything that these infected plants have touched. Remove potential problem plants from growing room and clean the area and shared equipment with bleach and water.