If you're even slightly interested in the field of hydroponics, there's absolutely no way you haven't heard of the ebb and flow. Back when it was first invented, the ebb and flow hydroponics system revolutionized soilless gardening and enhanced the growth of numerous plants that required heavy amounts of water to go by. Ebb and flow hydroponics also had a negative PR done to them and some of the negative aspects indeed seem to be well founded. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of an ebb and flow system and you can decide for yourself if it's fit for your growing needs, or if you need to move on to something else.
Pros of Using an Ebb and Flow Hydroponics System
1. Easy to Build - Ebb and flow systems are roughly on the same level of difficulty as water cultures, drip systems and the likes, which are quite easy to handle if you have the right set of plans. You don't have to be a hydroponics system expert to get an ebb and flow up and running.
2. Easy to Use - An ebb and flow hydroponics system is quite easy to use and manage, as it doesn't require a lot of technical knowledge to keep it running. Even better, if you're not building it yourself, it's almost plug-and-grow easy.
3. Nutrient Abundance - Since the ebb and flow systems work on a flood/drain concept, the grow tray will constantly get flooded with nutrient rich water, leaving them feeding off for as much as they want. This is also beneficial for plants that require heavy loads of water to work with, such as strawberries.
4. Low Cost - ebb and flow hydroponics system costs are usually very low in comparison to many other systems, because they don't require any high tech, expensive components that could make their prices skyrocket. Even better, if you're going to try and build the system on your own, you will get off quite cheaply.
Cons of Using an Ebb and Flow Hydroponics System
1. Higher Risk - There are several risks involved with using an ebb and flow system: the flood/drain component could malfunction, causing the flood of the area you've installed the ebb and flow in. Another risk is that of ruining your plant yields, due to the flooding mechanism. Because many plants require a lot of water on their roots, but need not get their corona wet, ebb and flow hydroponics systems can actually be dangerous to your plants. The strawberry is the most well known plant that can suffer from this in an ebb and flow hydroponics system.
2. Breakdowns - Because the ebb and flow system is ran with the help of a pump controller, which is usually prone to breaking down, the risk of the entire system breaking down is also higher than with many other system types.
3. Plant Toxicity/Deficiency - ebb and flow hydroponics systems flood the plants with water, allow them to suck up their required nutrients, then drain the water back in the tank. Over time, continuously draining the water will have salt building up on the roots or the growth media, which will block out certain chemical elements from reaching the plant, causing a deficiency.
4. Unstable pH levels - When water and nutrient solutions are drained back from the growth tray and into the nutrient container, the pH level of the solution changes dramatically. This can have devastating effects on your plants in time, blocking out certain chemical elements, or allowing others to run out of control and cause toxicities.