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Are you in the middle of a system overhaul in your grow room? Making a move from a soil-based operation to a soilless one is a big move. It’s also challenging to move from one hydroponic set up to another. Making the switch is a leap of faith, especially for your future crops, but can lead to massive payoffs if you take your time to get it right.

The Current Culture Recirculating Deep Water Culture System (RDWC) is one of the systems making the switch easy. It's a hydroponic set up which reduces grow room maintenance and overall nutrient expenditures, all while improving yields. But as you set up and begin your first crop in their RDWC, you'll want to know how to get the best harvests out of the design. What is the correct setup? Are there any beneficial system add ons, and what is the ideal growing conditions for this design?

The Benefits of Moving to Current Culture Recirculating Deep Water

Constant Nutrient Supply:

Current Culture RDWC provides a constant supply of well aerated and nutrient dense water to the developing root systems of your plants. It’s a series of ‘deep water’ containers, connected via a constantly moving current of freshwater. Recirculating systems are superior to non-recirculating ones, as the water, oxygen, and nutrients are on a continuous course from one end of the system and back again. There are no stagnant areas or plants which receive more or less nutrient attention than others.

Reduces Nutrient Waste:

A deep water system also has benefits over other methods like ebb and flow because it reduces nutrient waste. Cutting down the need to resupply the reservoir with nutrients regularly can really cut down costs. As any grower knows, nutrients are one of the most expensive costs to a grow.

Reduces Water Waste:

Any system which operates without recirculation wastes water, and some systems much contend with higher levels of water evaporation. The design of the Current Culture RDWC reduces evaporation and minimizes water consumption. When compared to other types of hydroponics systems, the RDWC has surprisingly little waste.

The Best Time to Introduce Plants to the Current Culture RDWC

There are two schools of thought on when the best time is for seedling introduction into the Current Culture RDWC. Some indoor growers, wait until their seedlings have formed a healthy root mass. The assumption is a healthy root mass not only predicts a healthy plant but sets the plant up for success by having the roots firmly established.

The second school of thought is to start the seedlings straight in the RDWC system. This method may be better used to more experienced growers, who have run a crop or two through the system already and understand its basic function. Seedlings require a slightly different water level within the individual tanks, roughly ⅕” below the root cups planting deck.

Reducing Organic Buildup and Biofilm

The bane of every hydroponic grower's existence is keeping the water clear and clean. Because most operations run hot and humid, it’s a challenge for even long-time growers to avoid water borne disease. Learning how to avoid the algae, the mold, the mildew, and biofilm is the key to many successful harvests.

With the Current Culture RDWC, they recommend introducing a water chiller into the system. In a warm environment, like the one your plants grow in, a water chiller keeps the nutrient solution between 66 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures over 72 degrees Fahrenheit can lead to root rot and infestations from waterborne diseases.

Many growers using the Current Culture system also use UC Roots additive to prevent build up and root rot. This product is one of those recommended by Current Culture themselves, and when used correctly will prevent roots from getting slimy, and turning brown. UC Roots breaks down root build up, further preventing diseases from spreading throughout the system.

Minimize Maintenance and Clean Up

One of the few downsides to hydroponics systems is the general maintenance required on all the moving parts and annoying system cleans.

According to Current Culture, there should be no routine maintenance beyond cleaning between harvests. However, no matter what hydroponic system you implement, a cleaning schedule is mandatory. Many a lazy gardener has ended up with serious issues with their next crop due to failure to properly clean in-between.

If you’ve already incorporated a water chiller into your Current Culture RDWC, you are already set to reduce your time cleaning it. Less organic build-up, less work to do between cycles.

Another helpful addition if your grow room, if the space permits, is a Top-Off Reservoir. Current Cultures recommends using one with at least 10 percent more water than your entire system as is. This pairs well with a nutrient doser and automation. It facilitates quick and easy system flushes and less work monitoring water levels.

Cleaning the Current Culture RDWC (plants removed)

  1. Pull out root mass and discard air stones.
  2. Drain the system completely, with no leftover debris.
  3. Wipe all pieces down including the air hose, net pots, and lids. Use a with sterilizing solution.
  4. Run a mixture of regular water and sterilizing solution through the entire system for at least six hours.  Fill the buckets to the top.
  5. Scrub inside of modules as well as inside joints with a bottle brush.
  6. Rinse out the system until water runs clear and drain out the remaining solution until the system is as empty as possible.
  7. Remove remaining water with a wet/dry vacuum.
  8. Wipe dry with a towel and complete the drying process under HID lights for further sterilization.

Further Optimizing the System

There are of course many other tips and tricks for getting the most out of your Current Culture hydroponics set up, far too many to explore in detail here. Current Culture has an entire page dedicated to their general recommendations on grow room conditions throughout the course of your grow, as well as an excellent problem-solving resource. When in doubt about your system design, struggling plants, or approach, always refer back to the source material. With a little investment, moving your grow room to a Current Culture Deep Water system can pay off with only one crop cycle.

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