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Hybrid Flood/Drain/NFT design!

Discussion in 'Aquaponics Ideas' started by great08, Aug 26, 2017.

  1. great08

    great08 New Member

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    Here is a link to the design I already drew out in Sketchup if you want to download it...

    https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/mo...d601491/Flood-and-Drain-NFT-Hybrid-Grow-Pipes

    Here are my thoughts on the Pros vs Cons.

    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.

    Hypothesis

    Possible benefits:
    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.

    Possible Downsides:

    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.
     
  2. Murray

    Murray Site Admin Staff Member

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    Question:
    What makes you think the water in your system will be any better than the same water would be in DWC?
    What will make the water in your NFT cleaner than the same water in DWC?
     
  3. great08

    great08 New Member

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    Hello Murray! Thank you for responding. I bought your 3 DVD set a long time ago and still watch them from time. Thank you for everything.

    My main desire/goal when making the new design (yet to begin testing so I don't even know if it will work) was to find a solution to the high temps found in NFT. I am attracted to the NFT solely due to not having to bend over with my back that seems to be on its way out. I just live in a hot climate on the Gulf Coast now. So the water won't be cleaner. Just cooler. Did I write cleaner? I will have to edit that typo.

    Compared to DWC the actual water quality may very well be able to be run through this system at a much lower standard. As in I can possibly(in theory... though possibly not) run water straight from the fish tank if required. As if it were another gravel media bed. Not that it would perform the duties of one. No air stones/extra maintenance that comes with the DWC either.

    I am leaning more towards having a split flow running fish waste through a gravel bed first to the sump. The split coming off just after the sump to some of these pipes. So the largest particulates get processed before making it into the pipes. Though plants in flood/drain gravel don't mind since they are surrounded by air each cycle. Just like the roots in this system will.

    My current system that I will be running the test prototype on has one of the sump/fish tank combos. So I will be running dirty for the tests. May as well test that out too. There are a couple koi in the mix so some larger "debris" will be involved. Lol

    Not having to run an array of swirl filters and separate mineralization tanks could come in handy for a lazy man such as myself. I would rather dump the gravel beds out once and a great while than deal with those. I am in love with gravel beds and aim to keep them in the future if possible.

    Marty
     
  4. Murray

    Murray Site Admin Staff Member

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    Hi Marty, There is always filtration to be done. Media beds are really good at that for both mechanical filtration and bio filtration. The split delivery (we call it CHOP2) is also a very good design idea.
     
  5. great08

    great08 New Member

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    Hey Murray,

    I am a huge fan of you guys Chop designs! I aim to use them. The 3 koi we have in the mix can live an average 20 - 60 years (record was 225 years). So I aim to keep them that long if possible. Not to mention the rest of the batches of fish it will protect over the years. Things happen and the CHOP design keeps that in mind. I am sure I will make a mistake at some point and they will kick the bucket. Maybe I won't.

    I am going to make a move to design my life differently in a few years. There are permaculture orchards, Aquaponics, ponds, grazing animals, and bees ahead. One step at a time. Aquaponics first. My kids love this stuff. I hope to pass it on to them.

    Human beings have the capability to design their own garden of Eden. I find it amazing so few do it.
     
  6. great08

    great08 New Member

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    Last night I went to Lowe's and Home Depot looking for the needed parts. For the external bell syphons I wanted to use a short 12" piece of 4" x 4" fence post. Now I am realizing the end caps only come it fancy angular designs. I am searching online for a flat end cap. If I don't find it I will go with a small square bucket.

    I drilled a test hole in a piece of scrap 4" pvc pipe and I cannot attach a fitting to the curved surface.

    I almost think the 2gal square buckets would work about perfect though.

    1. It would provide ample space for more fittings. Ensuring the water flow in is fast enough to keep the siphon from breaking too early.
    2. It's volume would be a mini reservoir! This would create THREE possible pluses. A. The "flushing" effect in the pipes would be greater in duration. B. There would be enough room to put in one of the 4" pvc pipes around with notches cut in to catch randomize roots and increase reliability(if that even happens). C. There would be enough room to install a mechanical flusher. Bonus from that would be that you could use a massively more amount of water flow... aka more sections of pipes per flush point! I have a toilet reservoir mechanism in mind. Of course that would lessen the "pipe flush effect"duration time with more pipes. Should not be required though.

    Marty
     
  7. Murray

    Murray Site Admin Staff Member

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    There is this device called a "Flout"
     
  8. great08

    great08 New Member

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    That is a neat looking contraption. The only thing I can see at first glance that would be a long term reliability issue would be the section of flexible hose bending a million times a year. I wonder how many times it would take to break.

    Murray,

    Do you know if the bell siphon can be upsized to a larger diameter and still function?
    Say something like a 2" stan with a 3" bell... or something like a 3" Stan with a 4" bell. I suspect due to fluid dynamics/gravity the bells and Stan pipes would have to be different lengths... and the water flow around them in their mini reservoir would have to be dramatically increased to keep the syphons from breaking before all the water was drained.

    I have only built two systems so far with both using 1 inch Stan pipes and 2 inch bells. They have no moving parts and I love them for that. Just keep it clean and it works.

    After looking around online I am going to likely go with a round bucket. I can't find any square buckets at my local stores that are sturdy enough. I will just put both the intakes... and the exhaust pipe on the bottom. Which will of course get in the way of setting up the bucket.

    I hear that local bakeries are a good source for free square buckets. I will ask around when time is available.

    I already have two 4" x 4" x 4' long pvc pipes set up! I was going to reuse them for a short overhead NFT strawberry setup on my new system. Now they will become the prototype. If they are too small(most likely) I will just mount them up and use like originally planned.

    Marty
     

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