While most growers using hydroponics systems enjoy this purely organic garden because it yields healthier and better-tasting food, there is a common complaint which most have to deal with: the unpleasant odors and smells that often result.
For best hydroponic system, this may not be as much of a concern but if you happen to be running one in a grow room at home, chances are you have probably had to deal with unpleasant odors. While you can't make too many changes to the organic materials or growing medium that may cause the pungent smells, you can take a number of steps to keep your hydroponics system from smelling horrible.
Yes, with the right knowledge and care, it is possible to run an effective and odor-free hydroponic system. Here are 5 tips for avoiding and minimizing unpleasant odors in your hydroponics systems.
1. Limit the Organic Materials in the System As Much As Possible
As the root cause of most of these odors is the organic materials, you can reduce the smells by avoiding the introduction of unnecessary organic material into your nutrient solution or growing medium.
Odor-causing bacteria tend to thrive in such organic environments, so substitute organic growing medium like coconut fiber for inorganic ones like expanded clay, perlite etc. When going from crop to crop, be sure to clean and then replace the growing medium to remove all unwanted organic matter that may be left over. Keep the reservoir that houses your nutrient solution sealed tight and in a dark place, so as to prevent foreign organic materials and light from affecting its contents.
2. Ensure Microbial Balance At All Times
According to Dr. Christopher Kline, a master gardener and contributing editor at Garden & Greenhouse, it is especially important to take steps to maintain microbial equilibrium in your nutrient solution in order to prevent your hydroponics system from having bad, overpowering odors.
This is because there are some microbial species which produce these unwanted smells, but there are also several beneficial microbes which can be introduced to the system to aid growth. Start off with using a clean, sterilized water source when creating the nutrient solution, then add in the nutrients and inoculate with a mixture of beneficial microbes. Once optimal pH balance has been achieved, a healthy hydroponics system could be boosted with more beneficial bacteria to suppress pathogens.
3. Consider Setting Up Carbon Filters
This is an easy and popular way to remove odors from any area, but they also help clean the hydroponics system and release odorless air. Carbon filters are very effective and require little maintenance to function properly.
Installing carbon filters in your hydroponics system will help with air filtering and provide odor control by reducing the prevalence of bad odors.
4. Keep Nutrient Solution Well Oxygenated
In addition to starting with and maintaining a clean system, you need to keep the nutrient solution well oxygenated. This will further assist in swinging the equilibrium to favor all the beneficial microbes that plants need. It also provides the oxygenated solution to the entire system including plant roots.
Purchase an inexpensive air pump and use this regularly, together with an air stone, to add oxygen to the nutrient solution. Depending on the size of your hydroponics system, you may need a bigger or more powerful air pump. Consulting with a professional could help you determine the best pump for your system's oxygenation needs.
Figure 1 Hydroponic Drip System
5. Replace Nutrient Solution and Flush System Often
Every week or every other week, you should replace your nutrient solution to ensure that it remains clean, stable and free of unwanted organic matter. Additionally, conduct checks on your pipes, pump, and reservoir and clean them out regularly.
Pump all of the old, used nutrient solution into a bucket until the pump is only able to draw air, then add some sterile, pH balanced water back into the tanks and let this run again through the system. Remove dead leaves, stems and plant foliage and ensure the entire area is clean and flushed.
When you are sure that the reservoir is all cleaned out, you can replace the solution with fresh nutrient solution. If you are a non-professional grower who finds this method too cost prohibitive, then you can try regulating your nutrient concentration and pH balance more so you don't have to do this as often.
Eric Gibs is a writer / blogger who concentrates on home improvement and creating a healthy home. Those passions pushed Eric to become a self-taught hydroponics gardener. You can follow him at Blog - PlaceCallHome.com, Twitter - @EricPlaceHome and Facebook - Facebook.com/placecallhome.