The Deep Water Culture (DWC) and the Kratky system are two of the most popular hydroponic systems today. They share many similarities which make people think they’re actually systems.
In reality, there are many differences between a Kratky hydroponic system and a DWC system. In this article, we are going to explore both systems and reveal which is best for you.
What is a Kratky System?
The Kratky system is best described as a variation of the DWC system that doesn’t require a water pump or electricity. In this system, the roots are suspended in the nutrient solution. As the plant grows, the root system will reach into the nutrient solution and take in nutrients.
To provide the system with oxygen, there is an air gap in the lid. The roots are only 25% submerged in water so the remaining 75% can get oxygen while the other parts get water and nutrients.
No electricity required – Definitely one of the biggest benefits of the Kratky system is that you won’t have to spend extra on electricity to use this system. This makes the system a better option for DIY farmers or growers living in remote areas where electricity is a problem and they do not have access to arable land.
Low maintenance – When you’ve set up the Kratky method, you won’t have to always check up on the plants until after several days. The system is a hands-off hydroponic setup that can work perfectly without your supervision. The only requirement for this system is that you monitor the nutrient level and add more nutrients when the system runs out.
Minimal cost – When setting up the Kratky system, you won’t need a lot of funds to get started. The low cost is also due to the simple materials that are required for the process. You won’t need pumps, hoses, and timers, which are a must with other hydroponics systems.
Easy to set up – While other hydroponics systems are easy to set up, the Kratky system would be the easiest. You will only need a few materials to set it up and there is no expert knowledge required.
Temperature is harder to control – The Kratky system makes it very difficult to control the temperature. Temperature fluctuations can be easily controlled if the system is placed indoors. In addition, covering or burying the reservoir can reduce the effects of quick temperature changes.
Stagnant Water – This is also a problem you will face with DWC but more problematic in the DWC. Stagnant water is an attraction for water-borne diseases and pests. You can easily control the best by ensuring the lid is well closed. Another problem is that stagnant water at warm temperatures would to root rot. This problem can be solved by adding enough nutrient solution to cover 25% of the root system and leaving the rest in an open-air gap.
Only works bests in a covered area – If you’re planning to use the Kratky method in the outdoors, you might not get the best results. This method only works best when used indoors or in a greenhouse. If you want to get the best results out of the Kratky method, you will have to use it in a covered area. In addition, you need to ensure that rainwater does not get into the system. If it does, it can dilute the nutrient solutions as well as alter the pH.
Not suitable for larger plants – One of the benefits of the Kratky system is that plants grow faster and better, leading to higher yields. However, this does not apply when growing larger plants. When growing larger plants on the Kratky method, you will find that they grow much slower than they would in DWC or other hydroponic methods.
What is the Deep Water Culture System?
The DWC system is a more advanced technique that has a higher chance of success. In this system, the roots of the plants are completely submerged in water that contains the needed nutrients.
There is an air pump and air stone that provides the needed oxygen. The DWC requires constant electricity and daily monitoring which makes it very tiring. Root rot is also common in the DWC system as the roots are completely submerged in water.
A wide variety of plants can be grown – The DWC system supports a wide range of plants whether you’re trying to grow leafy greens or many other crops. The diversity of options is what makes the DWC system better than the Kratky system. You get to grow crops like rice and cotton which have been shown to thrive in a DWC system.
Better results and yield – DWC systems have a higher chance of success. There is so much information available on how to start and run a DWC system, as well as, how to watch out for common issues that would reduce your chances of success. The abundance of guides makes it easier for beginners to avoid mistakes and actually get good results with the system.
Easy to set up – DWC systems are also easy to set up. They are not easier than the Kratky method, but more complicated. Once you’ve figured out how to use the air pump and air stone, it gets easier from there. Since the DWC doesn’t use a re-circulating system, maintenance should not be a problem afterward. Overall, this system is easy and would not require much maintenance to get results.
Diseases – Water-borne diseases are one of the biggest problems with DWC systems. The stagnant water could it easier for pathogens to thrive. To get the best results, you to check on the health of the plants regularly. If you notice any disease leaves on any plant, it would be best to get rid of it and find a solution to prevent the disease from spreading to other plants in the system.
pH fluctuations – Plants require a certain pH range to perform optimally. It is important to maintain this pH level in the water. You can use a home pH testing kit to check and maintain the needed pH, however, pH fluctuations are very common with DWC systems and can be very problematic for the plants.
Kratky vs. DWC: Which Hydroponic System is Better?
Comparing both options, you can tell that the DWC system is a better choice. If you’re only growing leafy greens and you don’t want to monitor the process every day, you might want to stick to the Kratky method. However, if you want to grow a wide range of plants and enjoy bigger and faster growth, then the DWC method is best for you.