The function of the Aeropnics pump is to deliver water and nutrient to the plants’ roots. The water delivery system and humidity levels are one of the most important factors of the system. The lack of soil and a growing medium makes the plant’s roots very susceptible to drying out and dying. This means the watering system has to be accurate and precise for the system to function properly.
With regard to watering the plants in an aeroponics system, there are several factors to consider. In this article, we will talk about how long to run the aeroponics pump and the factors to consider when doing so.
How Long Should You Run an Aeroponics Pump?
The amount of time to run the aeroponics pump would depend on the system. In a high-pressure aeroponic system, the watering cycles usually operate on a 15 sec ON and 3 – 5 minute OFF cycle. The running time ensures that the chamber maintains a high humidity level. This would also prevent the fine mist from combining into larger droplets.
In a low-pressure system, the watering cycle uses a 5-minute ON and 12-minute OFF cycle timer. The longer cycle is due to the fact that low-pressure systems do not rely on atomizing the water droplets. In this system, the roots get deeply saturated with water, then they will be given a longer duration of oxygen to help them absorb the nutrients.
Depending on your system, you can follow any of the time durations above. However, you should consider the factors that affect these time frames before going ahead.
Factors Affecting Nutrient Absorption
To ensure that your misting cycle is efficient, you should know more about the factors that affect a plant’s absorption abilities. Regardless of how often you mist proper absorption of essential minerals will determine the plant’s health and growth.
Plant Root Structure
If the plant root structure is healthy, you will find plenty of root hairs that increase the surface area of the root system. This makes it easy for the plant to absorb more water and nutrients.
The root structure of a plant is based on its species, however, plants in aeroponics don’t need to develop an extensive system. This is because an aeroponics system will deliver the nutrients and water directly to the plant, so the roots won’t have to search through the soil for nutrients as in traditional farming techniques.
While hairy and branched roots have a higher tendency to absorb water fast. They can be problematic as they will dry up fast.
The reservoir water temperature should be at a range between 60 °F to 70 °F to ensure that the plants absorb nutrients properly. You will have to perform regular checks using a thermometer to ensure that water remains within the temperature range.
If the water gets too warm, it could encourage the growth of algae and bacteria in the system which will negatively affect plant growth. To remedy this, add some ice to the reservoir.
If the water gets too cold or drops below 60 °F, you could add some hot water to increase the temperature. You could also use an aquarium heater to warm the water.
The droplets produced by the misting system should be small enough to be able to stick to the primary roots and root hairs without dripping off. If so, the water and nutrients will be absorbed much easily.
Using larger droplets could pose a problem as they would have more difficulty sticking to the roots. The weight of these particles would make them more likely to drip off of the root hairs leaving the plants without any nutrients or water.
Oxygen acts as an accelerant for nutrient absorption in the aeroponic system. You need to ensure there is a healthy oxygen supply to the roots as this allows them to absorb nutrients more easily.
Nutrients are another factor that determines if the plants will be able to absorb the nutrients faster or not. The best nutrients come in a 2 part mixture that is blended directly into the system. These nutrients contain macro and micro nutrients including Nitrogen, Calcium, potassium, phosphorus, Sulphur, Magnesium, Zinc, Boron, Iron, and Manganese.
Keeping the 2 parts separate in the nutrients helps to prevent the minerals from binding with each other. If this is not done, the micronutrients will bind and become much larger making it more difficult for the plants to absorb them.
Ensure you mix each part into the reservoir separately before adding them into the water.
There are lots of aeroponic nutrient solutions on the market to go for. When looking for nutrient solutions, go for one that is easy to use and can be used by all levels of aeroponic growers.
The Time of the Day
Plants will continue to take up nutrients regardless of the time of the day. However, most plants are focused on the photosynthesis process by a day, so they will take up more nutrients at night.
This makes it important to adjust the spraying interval according to the time of the day ensuring that the pumps water more frequently at night.
Different Methods of Watering Aeroponic Systems
When it comes to providing water and nutrients for plants in an aeroponics system, there are several methods to try out. Below are some of the most common methods.
Simple Interval Misting
The simple interval misting method is a regular method and one of the simplest methods to follow. In this method, a cycle timer will be used to control the on and off time in seconds and minutes. This routine will be repeated over and over 24/7. However, this doesn’t leave much room for adjustment.
The aim of this method is to maintain a 90-100% humidity level in the root section while ensuring that the droplet size is smaller than 100 microns. With this method, the spraying cycle is usually 3 to 15 seconds every 1 to 5 minutes. If the spraying cycle lasts longer than 15 seconds, you should wait for more time before the next one.
If this spraying method gives you the best results, you can keep it up throughout the life of the plants.
Using Continual Misting
For rooting clones or cutting, the best option for growers is the continual misting method. This is because the roots are yet to form, so having an off cycle for oxygen and nutrient uptake is not a necessity.
This method is not recommended or the best choice for the regular growth and flowering phase as it allows the water droplets to combine which makes it more difficult to maintain the right water temperature. The constant cycling of the pump creates heat which would raise the water temperature and hinder proper plant growth.
With continual misting, there is the possibility of clogged misters due to the excessive mineral buildup from constant spraying. The end result is a low quality and quantity crop yield due to the continual system.