- Innovative and simple solution for planting flood and drain hydroponic and aquaponic systems - Crops can be sown in rows much like regular soil cultivation and then thinned at various stages to make room to grow out some larger plants. Cuttings from the thinnings can be sold as young veggies. The garden becomes productive and earning all through the growth cycle.
- Improves Flood & Drain System Versatility - Crops can be easily handled and moved in-track: FTM channels can be easily lifted from the system intact and transported to other areas for grow out or sale. Growers can also transport the track with the crop to the sales location, to show consumers the freshest produce that retains the most nutrition and flavor of live vegetables.
- Solves many traditional raft DWC and NFT system difficulties when dealing with high temperatures and humidity - Superiority of flood & drain hydroponics method: Root systems of plants do not require and may not do well being continually soaked in water. Plants breath through their roots . Constant flooding impairs this breathing, especially during high ambient temperatures. Intermittent interaction with the nutrient solution and air allows the plant to breath easier and allows nutrient ions to be more easily absorbed by the root zone.
- Reduces farmer work load and increases System Design and Crop Choices - More convenient for growers to do targeted management, such as de-worming, pruning, foliar fertilization, etc.
The FTM is similar to the media-controlled method of flood & drain system, but the planting container is changed from deep plant bed to a long fiber stuffed track. The stuffed tracks are easily handled and portable allowing for easy maintenance of the resident plants. The fiber tracks are light weight and require only shallow water to work effectively.
Use of coir grow media fiber strips as a medium: coir fiber provide an optimal environment for rooting and microbial life. It provides humidity, ventilation and a stable anchor for the plants to root into. Coir also has superior nutrient exchange capability, with added anti-fungal properties that promotes sprouting and rooting.
Plastic channel or track: use of the track allows the grow media fiber strips to be clamped or fixed firmly from the bottom while the upper portion of the fiber can be easily separated by the grower for seeding, transplanting, cutting, harvesting and even adjustment of crop spacing. The flexibility allows you to grow radishes or dandelions and other root or tuber crops. Future testing will use the same principle for potatoes and carrots.
A U-shaped track or channel holds strips of grow media fiber strips. T track or channel maybe vented on sides or bottom and may have various designs of claw type shapes or appendages to hold the grow media strips in place. In some cases, the clamp or strap may be used to secure the grow media fiber strips in the channel.
A number of long strand grow media fiber strips. These grow media fiber strips can be manufactured with any material able to hold enough water for the plants to absorb and drain to allow the plants to breath. Such materials include coco coir fiber, rockwool, PP or other synthetic fiber, etc.
External shallow system water toughs or trays hold the FTM and nutrient water. These system toughs are connected to the feeder and drainage systems of compete hydroponics installation.
- The system toughs are installed and prepared as for regular flood and drain method of operation required to supply nutrient solution to the plants. Flood and drain systems are universally known and generally accepted by experienced hydroponics growers.
- The FTM components are prepared.
- The grow fiber strips are cut to a suitable length and height as required for the project according to the type of crop, height of system trough and required water level.
- These cut grow media fiber strips are stuffed in the U shaped channels, filling the internal width of the channel. After stuffing, the grow media fiber strips are held in place by the claw like appendages on the side of the plastic channel. The channel size can be selected according crop type and planting method.
- The stuffed FTM channels are then placed in the system toughs in preparation for flood & drain operation. Flood & drain operation in the system toughs can be controlled with electronic time to control the frequency and duration of the water supplied to the system toughs and the irrigation of the resident plants. Flooding frequency and duration is controlled by the grower to provide the appropriate amount of water for optimal growth depending on crop type, weather conditions, and state of growth.