Deep Water Culture For Plants: How To Build A Recirculating Deep Water Culture System

The concept of a deep water culture (or DWC) is one of the most popular topics among hobbyists and professionals alike. There are many benefits to using a DWC system, but there are some drawbacks too.

One drawback is that it requires much more maintenance than other systems. Another drawback is that it takes longer to grow your plants.

In this article we will explain what a DWC is, why it’s beneficial, and how to build a recirculating DWC system. We’ll also provide some tips on growing with a DWC system.

What Is A Deep Water Culture?

A DWC is a type of hydroponics system which uses large volumes of water to grow plants. It works by diverting the flow of water through pipes or tanks filled with nutrient solution. The liquid waste from the plant roots is then pumped back into the tank where it is used again. When done properly, this method allows for faster growth rates and greater yields compared to other methods such as soil gardening, aeroponics, and hydrotonics.

Why Is It Called Deep Water Culture?

This style of hydroponics is also called nutrient film technique, or NFT. The name “deep water culture” came about because the plants are grown in a similar way to how aquatic plant aquariums work. But the plants are not actually in water; they’re grown in a container filled with a hydroponic solution.

You can also refer to this style of hydroponics as low-pressure cultivation. This is because the pressure in the nutrient solution is much lower than the pressure surrounding it.

Benefits Of A DWC System

There are many benefits to using a deep water culture hydroponic system. These benefits are one of the main reasons that this method has become so popular among hydroponic enthusiasts and commercial growers alike.

Some of the most notable benefits are listed below.

One of the most significant benefits of a DWC system is that it allows you to grow huge amounts of top quality produce. This method is perfect for situations where having abundant crops is important.

For example, a farmer may choose to use this method if he wants to grow hundreds or thousands of heads of lettuce at once. Or perhaps a large company that wants to grow massive quantities of herbs to sell may choose to use this type of hydroponic system.

Deep Water Culture For Plants: How To Build A Deep Water Culture System on

Another advantage of the DWC system is that it’s very easy to automate. When you have set up your tank, channels, and all of your other hydroponic equipment, you can set it on a timer and your plants will be watered automatically every single day.

If you live in an area that experiences drought conditions, a DWC system will allow you to grow your plants without having to worry about watering them. Since the plants are being watered continuously, you can rest assured that they will survive the drought and thrive.

One more advantage of this hydroponic system is that it has a high success rate. As long as you set everything up correctly and maintain it regularly, you should have no problems growing healthy plants.


Of course, everything has its downsides. Deep water culture hydroponic systems are no exception.

While these systems do have their advantages, they also have some downsides that you should be aware of before deciding whether or not to build one yourself or not. Some of these potential drawbacks are listed below.

One disadvantage of the DWC system is that it can be quite complicated to set up and maintain for beginners. Since this system uses a reservoir tank, tubing, air pumps, and all sorts of other hydroponic equipment, it can be difficult to set up.

You will also need to monitor the pH levels of your water, as well as add nutrients into the tank on a regular basis.

Another potential problem is that this style of hydroponic system requires a fairly high level of maintenance. If you do not routinely monitor the levels of your tank, tubing, and other equipment, there is a good chance that your plants will become diseased or even die.

Yet another disadvantage to this type of hydroponic system is that it requires quite a bit of electricity in order to operate. Since you’re constantly running an air pump for the system, your energy bills might skyrocket after installing one of these.

Finally, a DWC system is large and bulky. This can be a problem in some situations.

For example, if you only have a small space available for planting your hydroponic plants, a DWC system may not be the right choice for you.

What Kinds of Plants Can I Grow With a DWC System?

You can grow any type of plant that you could grow with any other type of hydroponic system with a deep water culture system. With that being said, deep water culture systems are well-suited for growing leafy greens such as lettuce, herbs, and other plants that like a lot of water.

Deep Water Culture For Plants: How To Build A Deep Water Culture System on

Since these plants need a lot of water to thrive, deep water culture systems are the perfect choice for growing them. You can even grow fruit or flowers with this system, although it may not be the best idea due to the fact that your plants will always be sitting in water.

Due to the fact that this system requires you to continually monitor pH levels, water levels, and nutrient levels, it is not a good idea to grow any type of vegetable that requires a long growing period. There’s also the fact that any plants grown in this system will always be wet, which may cause them to become diseased faster than usual.

Things to Consider Before You Build a DWC Hydroponic System

Before you go out and spend all the money on equipment, there are a few things that you need to think about first. By taking the time to assess your situation in regards to your gardening abilities and your needs, you can avoid the frustration of having to buy more supplies after you’ve already built your hydroponic system.

Take the following things into consideration before starting your project.


Sources & references used in this article:

A development of an automatic microcontroller system for Deep Water Culture (DWC) by MF Saaid, NAM Yahya, MZH Noor… – 2013 IEEE 9th …, 2013 –

Raft apparatus for growing plants by means of water culture by RS Farnsworth – US Patent 4,037,360, 1977 – Google Patents

Interlocking raft for deepwater culture hydroponics by JP Day – US Patent 9,807,950, 2017 – Google Patents

A study of oxygenation techniques and the chlorophyll responses of pelargonium tomentosum grown in deep water culture hydroponics by JD Butcher, CP Laubscher, JC Coetzee – HortScience, 2017 –

Effects of aeration on lettuce (Lactuca sativa) growth in deep water culture aquaponics by D Bodenmiller – 2017 –

Response of kale (Brassica alboglabra L.) to various planting media and application of liquid inorganic nutrition in DWC (deep water culture) hydroponic systems by CWB Yanti, R Dermawan, NS Nafsi… – … Series: Earth and …, 2020 –

The effect of drying temperature on chemical composition of chitosan powder from fishbone waste to hydroponic Deep Water Culture (DWC) application by A Ekawati, FS Arsyad, I Royani – Journal of Physics: Conference …, 2019 –



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